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  1. Welcome to SA1003 Introduction to Anthropology: Themes!

    This module has two basic aims: 

    1. To introduce you to anthropology by way of some key themes in the discipline. These will-
    2. Encourage you to 'think like an anthropologist' in the way you approach the questions you face, the arguments you encounter, and the lives of other people.


    If there is one idea you need to take away from this module, it is that there is never only one way of thinking about the world or organising life. There are many, and all of them are equally valid on their own terms. The challenge of being an anthropologist is to understand these different ways of being a person, and to think and write about them without presuming that *our* way is better. This is harder than it sounds!


    This reading list is intended to be quite economical. It is not padded out with hundreds of extra sources, but focuses on what you need to read to deal with the lectures and assessments. You will find, however, that you get more out of your studies (and better results!) the more you read. Staff in the library, your lecturers and personal tutor will be able to give you advice on how to search for other relevant material on topics that interest you. There is plenty more out there to explore!


    Important Dates and Deadlines


    -       Week 3, 10/11: Formative Essay Deadline (submit to Personal Tutor)

    -       Week 8, 13/11: Assessed Essay Deadline (electronic copy, submitted via BBL, by 12:00 noon)

    -       Week 12, 12/12: Class Test

  2. Week 1, 26/09: Being an anthropologist 4 items
    In this session, we are looking at what anthropology is, what anthropologists do, and what the discipline can teach us about being human.
    1. Body ritual among the Nacirema - Horace Miner 1956

      Article Essential reading

    2. Small places, large issues: an introduction to social and cultural anthropology - Thomas Hylland Eriksen 2010

      Book Essential reading Read especially the introductory chapter. This book is very useful, however, and it would be wise to read the whole thing.

    3. Conformity and conflict: readings in cultural anthropology - David W. McCurdy, Dianna Shandy 2016

      Book Essential reading Read especially 'Eating Christmas in the Kalahari' by R. Lee

    4. The invention of culture - Roy Wagner 1981

      Book Recommended reading Read the first chapter. This is a hard book to read, but has been very influential.

  3. Week 2, 3/10: What exactly are we studying? 8 items
    The second session in this module is dedicated to working out what anthropologists study. At one level this is simply a matter of explaining some theoretical terms, especially 'society' and 'culture'. However, it's more complicated than that, as we will see.
    1. Anthropology and anthropologists: the modern British school - Adam Kuper 1996

      Book Essential reading Read especially chapters 1 and 2, but the whole book is very useful

    2. American kinship: a cultural account - David Murray Schneider 1980

      Book Essential reading Read 'The Family'

    3. Frontiers of anthropology: an introduction to anthropological thinking - Murray J. Leaf, Bernard Grant Campbell 1974

      Book Essential reading Read 'Are there social groups in the New Guinea Highlands?' by R. Wagner

    4. The invention of primitive society: transformations of an illusion - Adam Kuper 1988

      Book Recommended reading

    5. The rules of sociological method and selected texts on sociology and its method - Émile Durkheim, W. D. Halls, âEmile Durkheim 2013

      Book Recommended reading

    6. Local knowledge: further essays in interpretive anthropology

      Chapter Recommended reading Read Chapter 3, pp 55-70, From the native's point of view: On the nature of anthropological understanding

    7. An introduction to theory in anthropology - Robert Layton 1997

      Book Recommended reading

    8. Culture: the anthropologists' account - Adam Kuper c1999

      Book Recommended reading

  4. Week 3, 10/10: Grasping the world: why do people classify things? 6 items
    If we want to understand how other people live, we need to get to grips with the kind of world they live in. Understanding how and why people classify things is a good place to start.
    1. Primitive classification - Emile Durkheim, Marcel Mauss, Rodney Needham 1969

      Book Essential reading Read the chapter on 'Zuñi, Sioux'

    2. Purity and danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo - Mary Douglas 1966

      Book Essential reading Read 'The Abominations of Leviticus'. This book is also available as an electronic edition.

    3. Good to eat: riddles of food and culture - Marvin Harris 1998

      Book Recommended reading Read Chapter 4, 'The Abominable Pig'

    4. The savage mind - Claude Lâevi-Strauss, Claude Lâevi-Strauss 1966

      Book Recommended reading This book is quite difficult to read, but worth the effort. 'The logic of the concrete' is the most useful chapter.

    5. Molders of mud: ethnogenesis and Rwanda's Twa - Christopher C. Taylor 06/2011

      Article Recommended reading

  5. Week 4, 17/10: Nature and culture 7 items
    We saw in the last session that other people classify the world into categories that are very variable. If we follow this reasoning to its conclusion, it follows that Western notions of what is 'natural' and therefore proper or necessary aren't universal. Is there any such thing as 'nature'?
    1. Genesis as myth, and other essays - Edmund Leach 1969

      Book Recommended reading Read 'Virgin Birth'

  6. Week 5, 24/10: People and things (gifts/commodities) 7 items
    Why are things valuable? Why do people want to have more stuff? Are all people motivated by wealth? These are questions that will lead us in this session to question the relationships between people and things.
    1. Stone Age economics - Marshall David Sahlins 2004

      Book Essential reading Read 'The Original Affluent Society'

    2. The gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies - Marcel Mauss 2002

      Book Essential reading Read the introduction and Chapters 1-3. This is 50-odd pages to read, but it's well worth while.

    3. Gifts and commodities - C. A. Gregory, Marilyn Strathern 2015

      Book Recommended reading

    4. Barter, exchange and value: an anthropological approach - Caroline Humphrey, Stephen Hugh-Jones 1992

      Book Recommended reading Read especially 'Qualified Value' by M Strathern

    5. Argonauts of the Western Pacific: an account of native enterprise and adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea ; with a preface by Sir James George Frazer - Bronislaw Malinowski 1922

      Book Recommended reading This is a classic, even if some of the language is a *bit* dated. Read especially Chapter III 'The essentials of the kula'

    6. Small places, large issues: an introduction to social and cultural anthropology - Thomas Hylland Eriksen 2015 (electronic resource)

      Book Recommended reading Read Chapter 11

  7. Week 6, 31/10: Inequality and domination 6 items
    Is inequality natural and inevitable? Why do some people seem to have more worth than others? In this session we explore why people end up unequal and how that inequality is brought about.
    1. Egalitarian societies - James Woodburn 1982

      Article Essential reading

    2. Inequality among men - Andrâe Bâeteille 1977

      Book Essential reading Read the chapter 'The Two Sources of Ineqaulity'

    3. Poverty and inequality - Andre Beteille 2003

      Article Recommended reading

    4. Social inequality: selected readings - Andrâe Bâeteille 1969

      Book Recommended reading Read 'The Caste System in India' by M.N. Srinivas

    5. Death: &, the right hand - Robert Hertz, Robert Hertz c1960

      Book Recommended reading

  8. Reading week 1 item
    1. There is no lecture or seminar during reading week. You should use this time to catch up on your reading and to work on your assessments.

  9. Week 8, 14/11: Colonialism and development 10 items
    So far, we have been looking at different applications of the cultural relativism that is such a central part of anthropology. But the discipline also exists in relation to other things - importantly global systems of inequality which have shaped its history. To be responsible anthropologists, we need to acknowledge and understand the colonial legacy of our discipline.
    1. Anthropology & the colonial encounter - Talal Asad 1998], c1973

      Book Essential reading Read Asad's introduction

    2. Orientalism - Edward W. Said 2003

      Book Recommended reading

    3. The colonial exchange - Henrika Kuklick

      Chapter Recommended reading

    4. Embodying colonial memories - Paul Stoller

      Chapter Recommended reading

    5. Cultures of consultancy - R. L. Stirrat 01/03/2000

      Article Recommended reading

    6. Yali's Question - Frederick Errington, Deborah Gewertz November 15, 2004 (Hardcover)

      Book Other reading

    7. Africa, empire, and anthropology: a philological exploration of anthropology's heart of darkness - Andrew Apter 10/1999

      Article Other reading This is a rather dense paper, which is quite difficult to understand. However, it is a very useful resource in that it has a very good bibliography, which you may find useful.

  10. Week 9, 21/11: Race and Ethnicity 11 items
    This lecture will look at the development of racial ideas in Western science and culture, contrasting the various ‘scientific’ approaches to the view of race as a social construct. We will briefly consider the concept of ‘ethnicity’ and how this relates to race.
    1. "Race" and the Construction of Human Identity - Audrey Smedley 09/1998

      Article Essential reading

    2. Ethnicity: anthropological constructions - Marcus Banks 1996

      Book Essential reading especially Chapter 2, ‘Ethnicity unearthed’

    3. AAA Statement on Race 09/1998

      Article Recommended reading

    4. Ethnicity and nationalism: anthropological perspectives - Thomas Hylland Eriksen 2010

      Book Recommended reading Ethnic classification: us and them (Chap.2)

    5. How Real Is Race? Using Anthropology to Make Sense of Human Diversity - Carol Mukhopadhyay and Rosemary C. Henze 2003

      Article Recommended reading

    6. 'Race', Nature and Culture - Peter Wade 03/1993

      Article Other reading

    7. Race, nature and culture: an anthropological perspective - Peter Wade 2002

      Book Other reading (see Chapters 1 & 2; available at PLA)

    8. From savage to Negro: anthropology and the construction of race - John P. Jackson,, Lee D. Baker 12/1999

      Article Other reading

  11. Week 10, 28/11: Rights and wrongs 14 items
    Here is another problem for a culturally relativist anthropology: what do you do when you know that other people do terrible things to each other? Should we understand violence and the infliction of pain as part of a culture that should be respected? Or should we intervene? What right do we have to criticise other people?
    1. Unsettling power: domestic violence, gender politics, and struggles over sovereignty in Ghana - Saida Hodžić 09/2009

      Article Recommended reading This is the source for the Ghanaian case we saw in class. It's a really useful article

    2. Female circumcision and genital operations in Egypt and the Sudan: a dilemma for medical anthropology - Daniel Gordon 1991

      Article Essential reading You will also find the commentaries on this article useful (immediately after it in the same issue of the journal), especially the one by Nancy Scheper-Hughes

    3. Anthropology and human rights - Ellen Messer 10/1993

      Article Recommended reading

    4. Anthropology news

      Journal Recommended reading This issue of Anthropology News contains a useful debate on the proper relationship between anthropology and human rights

    5. Culture and rights: anthropological perspectives - Jane K. Cowan, Marie-Bâenâedicte Dembour Dembour, Richard Wilson 2001

      Book Recommended reading

    6. Human rights, culture and context: anthropological perspectives - Richard Wilson 1997

      Book Recommended reading

    7. Journal of Anthropological Research - Carole Nagengast, Terence Turner, Ellen Messer, Elizabeth M. Zechenter

      Journal Recommended reading Special Issue on Universal Human Rights versus Cultural Relativity. 1997. Vol 53(3); see especially introductory article.

  12. Week 11, 5/12: Summary and Revision Lecture 1 item
    1. This lecture comprises an overview of the main themes that have emerged in the course of this module. It also serves as a review session for the forthcoming in-class test. 

  13. Week 23, 12/12: Class Test 1 item
    1. The final week's session is devoted to an in-class test, which counts for half the mark for this module. You should check your timetable carefully for this week, as the test may be held at a different time and place to the normal lecture hour.

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