BMCC- Intro to Anthropology

Department of Social Sciences, Human Services And Criminal Justice
Course Title: Introduction to Anthropology Course #: Ant 100 Section 1901 & 2000
Instructor: Prof. Gareth A Edel Class hours: 3 Credits: 3 Semester: Spring 2016
Class Meeting Date and Time:
Section 1901- Tuesday and Thursday 7-8:15 PM Section 2000 – Tuesday and Thursday 8:30-9:45 PM
Office Hours: The Professor is available for the hour between 6pm- 7pm, or flexibly by appointment.
Professor Email address:
Course Description: From the Department: “The evolution and behavior of human beings as cultural animals are the focus of this course. Students are introduced to the basic concepts and methods of the major divisions of anthropology: physical, social and cultural, archeology, and linguistics. Emphasis is placed on preliterate societies to facilitate the study of the interrelation of various aspects of culture.” I offer the additional note that Anthropology is the study of Humanity – including individual human activity, shared society, and both contemporary and historical ways of life. Anthropology asks how culture shapes and is shaped by the lives of participants in relation to the world they live in, and by looking at multiple cultures, it offers us a chance to consider the strengths and weaknesses of our own culture. The course introduces students briefly to the four fields of anthropology, with a special focus on cultural anthropology. Students will be introduced to concepts, key methods, and theories used in anthropology, with a focus on cultural anthropology. Students will be asked to try to develop a critical cultural appreciation and the perspective of an anthropologist in practice over the course of the semester. Foremost is the goal of developing sensitivity to cultural difference and a recognition of how the variety of cultures and cultural difference impact all of human life.
Required Texts:
Monaghan, J. & Just, P. (2000). Social and cultural anthropology: A very short introduction. Oxford University
Press. ISBN: 0192853465/978-0192853465
*Additional readings are required but provided digitally online. Students for whom online access may be a problem may request access to paper copies from the professor.
** Students will be expected to do library and online research and find readings and materials related to their class projects over the course of the semester.
Assignments & Grading
Weekly readings (completed prior to class on Monday) will be expected and are necessary to do other work and maintain participation in class discussions. Prior to each assignment, a written explanation of the expectations for that assignment will be provided.
Reading & response questions: Submitted before class each Monday for discussion in the Wednesday section. 10%
Each week, each student is responsible for submitting 2-4 questions reflecting the reading. From these
questions, discussion questions for the Wednesday meeting will be selected. Submitted questions will
be graded on how well they demonstrate that you have done the reading.
Reading Quizzes: Short unscheduled quizzes given irregularly to check that students are reading. 5%
Class Participation: Primarily discussion, and brief in class exercises. 15%
Portfolio: Cultural Observation & Field Notes (10%) and write-ups of In Class Exercises (5%) 15%
Midterm Examination 20%
Final Examination 15%
Semester Research Project 20%
The project has 5 stages that are cumulative and graded upon submission: 1) List of possible topics/research questions;
2) Annotated list of possible sources; 3) Introduction section and outline (2-3 pages); 4) draft (5-8 pages); and
5) final complete submissions (10 pages). Final project must use course materials, terms, and concepts in their project.
Extra Credit – Options may be made available with faculty approval, such as Book Reports on an ethnography, additional fieldwork, or extra reading on topics in the course.
Each week is followed by lecture/discussion topic and each date is followed by a reading assignment to be completed in
preparation for the beginning of that class. Students are expected to have read completely each assignment before the class on the
date on which it is listed. Written assignments are also listed; similarly, they must be completed and received digitally prior to the
class or on paper at the class for the date listed. Generally, Reading for the week is due for the Monday class while written
assignments are scheduled for the Wednesday class where semester schedule allows.
Week 1 – What is Anthropology & Settling In.
Tuesday First Class – Review Syllabus & Introduction
Thursday The Idea of Culture
Assigned Reading: New York Times Articles:
Sarah Varney (Aug 21, 2015). “A racial gap in attitudes towards hospice care” New York Times
Sarah Maslin Nir (Aug 14 2014). “Fighting a McDonald’s in Queens for the right to sit. And sit. And sit. New York Times.
Week 2 – Introducing the “Four Fields” of Anthropology
Assigned Reading: Introduction to Ember, Ember & Peregrine (2014) Textbook
Week 3 – Ethnography and “the field”
Tuesday No Class Scheduled (All CUNY)
Assigned Reading: Social and cultural anthropology: A very short Introduction Chapters 1-2 (Pages 1- 52)
Week 4 – Organizing Society and Structure
Tuesday Assigned Reading: Social and cultural anthropology: A very short Introduction Chapters 3-5 (Pages 53- 106)
Assignment Due: List of possible Research topics for the semester project and initial research questions.
Week 5 – Beliefs, Cosmology, Values, and Exchange
Tuesday Assigned Reading: Social and cultural anthropology: A very short Introduction Chapters 6- End (Pages 107- 146)
Assignment Due: Selected Research Project topic
Week 6 – Reflexivity, Storytelling, Disclaimers, and Writing
Tuesday Assigned Reading: Tricia Ross (1994). Black noise- Rap music and Black culture in contemporary America. Wesleyan
University Press. SELECTED PAGES: p.xi- xvi, from the “Introduction”
Kjetil Tronvoll (1998) Mai Weini- A Highland village In Eritrea- A study of the people, their livelihood, and land tenure during
times of turbulence. Red Sea Press Inc. SELECTED PAGES: xv-15 “Introduction”
Week 7 – Social Theory
– Reciprocity, Social Order, and The Gift:
Assigned Reading: Marcel Mauss (1990). The gift- The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies, Routledge Press,
Translation by WD. Halls. READ CHAPTER 1 (P10- 24) AND CONCLUSION (P.83-107).
Assignment Due: Annotated list of possible sources for Semester Research Project.
Week 8 – Language as Culture
Tuesday Assigned Reading:
Alessandro Duranti (2003). “Language as culture in US anthropology” Current Anthropology, v.44(3), pp. 323-347.
Select either:
Penelope Brown & Stephen Levenson “‘Uphill’ and ‘Downhill’ in Tzeltal” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, v3(1) 46- 74
Assigned Reading: EE Evans-Pritchard (1956). “The problem of symbols” A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion Edited
by Michael Lambek, Blackwell, Pp.145-157
Week 9 – Mid-term Exam week
Tuesday -Mid-term Review
Thursday -Mid-Term Examination
Week 10 – Medicine and Health
Assigned Reading:
Paul Farmer (2014) “Diary- Ebola”, London Review of Books, Vol 36 # 20, pp 38-39
Paul Farmer, Et al. (2006) “Structural Violence and Clinical Medicine” PLOS Medicine Oct 24 2006
Week 11 –Archaeology
Tuesday Reading Assignment:
Selections “Ch.2 How archaeologists work”(p.22-41) and “Ch 6. Deciphering archaeological finds” (p.132-137) from
Brennan (1973) Beginner’s Guide to Archaeology, Dell Press
Selections “Experimental archaeology”(p.82-86), “Gender Archaeology” (p. 95- 9), and “non-linear processes and
archaeology (p. 136-139)” from Renfrew & Bahn (2005) Archaeology the Key Concepts, Routledge Press
Assignment Due: Draft work of Final Project due- Initial Outline and Introduction (around 5 pages).
Week 12 – Evolution, Physical and Biological
Tuesday Reading Assignment:
Watch/Do the Multimedia Presentation:
Richard Lewontin- “Not So Natural Selection” New York Review of Books, May 27, 2010
Week 13 – Difference/Classification – Race
Tuesday Reading Assignment:
Review the American Anthropological Association’s webpage for understanding Race. Pay particular attention to the section on
Human Variation: .
George Armelagos & Alan Goodman (1998). “Race racism and anthropology” p. 359-379, in Building the New Biocultural
Synthesis, Alan H. Goodman and Thomas L. Leatherman, Editors
Assignment Due: Draft work of Final Project due – Filled in Outline/Initial Draft expanded (around 10 pages including previous draft’s
Week 14 – Difference/Classification- Gender/Sex
Tuesday Anne Fausto-Sterling (1996) “The five sexes.” In Rosenblum & Travis (Eds). The meaning of difference. 68-73. MacGraw Hill
Read the Blog Post at “Living Anthropologically” entitled “Anthropology, Sex, Gender, Sexuality: Gender is a Social
Construction” by Jason Antrosio,
Week 15 – Open Week (Topic TBA)
Assignment Due: I will collect Student Portfolios to review contents,
Week 16 –
Tuesday (last day of classes) Last class meeting.
Assignment- Final Project troubleshooting and discussion of final thoughts.
Rule #1- You are here to learn. Your fellow classmates are here to be in this class, and you should be respectful to your
classmates and to our shared endeavor. You must attempt to be engaged and respectful to classmates. Class time is for class work,
and you should feel free to tell the faculty member in private if you feel other classmates are distracting or disrespectful. Gender
biased or inappropriate language: Students should attempt to use non-gendered language; it demonstrates attentiveness to the
course’s emphasis on attentiveness to the value of difference, is more professional in writing, and promotes respectful dialogue in
the class.
Technology: Students may use laptops for note-taking, but if a student is seen using their computer for non-class related
activities they will lose that privilege. Blank paper and pens will be available for students unprepared for note-taking. STUDENTS
Attendance: You can miss 2 classes over the course of the semester without excuses and with no grade penalty, but any
further absences without excuse will cost points off the final grade. Students are responsible for making up materials and finding out
what they missed for any class absence (even excused absences). Serious situations, major illnesses, and crises may allow for
alternative work outside of class time in extreme cases with faculty approval.
Lateness: Participation and class lessons will cover material necessary for success in this class; additionally the professor
takes seriously that lateness constitutes disrespect for the class as a whole. Students will sign an attendance sheet each class and
those who arrive after the attendance is taken must speak to the professor at the end of class to be marked in late. Failure to be
marked in late will result in the student not being marked for attendance. Chronic lateness will be calculated against the
participation grade.
College Attendance Policy:
At BMCC, the maximum number of absences is limited to one more hour than the number of hours a class meets in one week. For
example, you may be enrolled in a three-hour class that meets twice a week. You are allowed 4 hours of absence (not 4 days). In
the case of excessive absences, the instructor has the option to lower the grade or assign an F or WU grade.
In the online classes attendance is based on your timely postings on the discussion board. Make sure you check both your BMCC
email and announcements at least once a day in case there is any relevant information on the course.
Plagiarism: We will discuss citations, and academic practice in class, but any demonstrated plagiarism will automatically
cause the offender to fail the assignment.
BMCC Policy on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity Statement:
Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s ideas, words or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one’s own creation. Using
the idea or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as
direct quotations, require citations to the original source. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent
does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism.
Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities:
Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments for this course must contact the Office
of Services for Students with Disabilities. BMCC is committed to providing equal access to all programs and curricula to all students.
Other Notes:
The library has guides designed to help students to appropriately identify a cited work. The full policy can be found on BMCC’s web