About ANTH 021 OL2

Introduction to cultural anthropology, using fieldwork-based concepts and methods to study diverse cultural views and practices, varied forms of social organization, and contemporary global issues.


Dates: July 18 - August 12, 2022; Asynchronous Online Course

Section Description

This is a course about the experience of being human and the diversity of human experience across the planet. For that reason, you are all already experts in the subject matter and raw material of this course; we all have intimate experience with it. At the same time, there are aspects of human life, because they are rooted in the contexts of very different cultures, societies, and ecologies, about which most of us know very little. In such areas, we need to work hard to make sure that our assumptions, based on our own experience and cultural modes of thought or cognition, do not color our understandings of those cultures. We need to carefully examine our own ethnocentric bias and to be aware of what we take for granted in our encounters with other cultures. This course is thus about the complex relationship between shared human universals and sociocultural diversity. It is also about the multilayered and very personal individuals, stories, and daily realities which make up what we might assume to be monolithic, exotic and inaccessible societies.

Section Expectation

In this course we will examine many areas and facets of human life; in most cases, the separation between these areas (i.e. language, or sexuality, or conflict) is artificial, and they overlap extensively. One focus of this course is the question of how these phenomena may be studied. Ethnography, anthropology’s signature technique, will be our lens for thinking about human social life, and will lead us to important discussions of how we talk about, interact with, and represent other cultures, and how we relate them to our own. In this course, your primary textbook is human life itself. Your workbook is the atlas. And your answer key is your own experience of being human.


TENTATIVE Evaluation Structure 1. Unmapping: Your Semester-Long Project Early in the semester, you will be asked to start researching a bounded territorial expanse of the planet’s surface. The first step is that you will be given a set of criteria from which you will be asked to select four geographic coordinates (of longitude and latitude). Throughout the semester you will slowly build your knowledge of the cultural landscape in the region you’ve been assigned through a series of homework assignments asking things like: •Do the people in your coordinates belong to “a” culture with a name? •What languages do the people in your coordinates speak? •What nation-states are they part of? •What religions and belief systems are present in the coordinates you’ve been assigned? •Have any languages or cultural groups disappeared in historical memory from the region you’re studying? As the semester goes on, the questions and challenges will get deeper and more complex. Such homework assignments will come approximately every other week, and will total five. Many of these homework assignments will ask you to apply the concepts in the readings to the people in the area you’re looking at. In your final paper (6-8 pages double-spaced) you will be asked to synthesize all of this information. The goal of the paper will be to dive into some critically important question surrounding the area in your coordinates. The semester-long project is worth a total of 60% of your grade. There are five homework assignments, each of which is worth 7% of your grade, for a total of 35%. Your final paper itself is worth 25%. Our course has its own research guide, provided by the Library: http://researchguides.uvm.edu/anth021steinberg 2. Late-Semester Midterm Exam Late in the semester you will have a cumulative exam on material from the readings and lectures. The format will be largely multiple choice. Worth 20% of your grade. 3. Reading Quizzes Two quizzes, one early in the semester, and one about halfway through, multiple choice. 7.5% of your grade each, 15% total. 4. Participation Measured through timeliness, general community activity, and especially attendance as assessed through noted absences. Incorporates poster presentation: 5% of your grade.

Course Dates



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