University of British Columbia
Department of Anthropology
Winter Term 2012 (T2)
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Instructor: David Geary
“Cultural analysis is intrinsically incomplete.
And, worse than that, the more deeply it goes the less complete it is.”
― Clifford Geertz
Lectures: Neville Scarfe 100
Monday and Wednesday 3:00-3:50 pm
Gregory Gan; Lorenzo Lane
Rafael Wainer; Clayton Whitt
Course webpage: http://www.elearning.ubc.ca/lms/login-to-vista/
This course provides an introduction to cultural anthropology offering broad insights into
its disciplinary origins and the development of its foundational paradigms. Through an
exploration of key aspects of its practice over the past century and in the contemporary
moment, we will cover a wide variety of topics that will not only teach us about other
peoples and cultures different from our own, but will also help us to improve our
understanding of our own society and its customs, values and beliefs; each can shed light
upon the other. Topics to be explored include economics and globalization, family and
kinship systems, religion and magic, culture change and adaptation, language and
communication, and legal and political systems. Throughout the course students are
encouraged to think critically about the discipline’s future and the kind of possibilities
cultural anthropology may offer them, as they become increasingly active members of
society and citizens of the world.
Format: The class consists of two components: Lectures and Discussion Sections lead by
Teaching Assistants. Attendance is mandatory and punctuality expected. Your TA will
provide details as to how their individual sections will be run.
You can find the course syllabus, overheads used in lectures (updated weekly), exam
templates, and other miscellaneous materials related to the course atwww.vista.ubc.ca. You
will need a Campus Wide Login (CWD) ID to log on (for more info, visit www.cwl.ubc.ca).
1 I expect this course will be a fun challenge. It will be a challenge in the sense that it will
suggest to you alternative ways of being and knowing. By the end of the class, students
who have satisfactorily fulfilled the requirements of this course should be able to
understand the following:
• Appreciate cultural and social difference, and how human diversity is produced
and shaped by local and global patterns.
• Articulate a critical understanding of anthropology and its history, its object of
study, and its various approaches to the study of people, culture, and social
• Become critically aware of ethnocentrism, its manifestations, and consequences in
a world that is progressively interconnected.
• Use anthropological concepts and ways of asking questions to understand
contemporary social, economic, and political issues.
• Identify and critically assess ethical issues that arise in the practice of
anthropology and ethnography.
Office Hours & Contact Information: We invite and strongly encourage you to make use
of your TA’s and Instructor’s office hours. Office visits at other times can be arranged by
appointment. Our offices are located in the Anthropology and Sociology building,
directly across NW Marine Drive from the Rose Garden.
David Geary (ANSO 156) Phone: 604-822-3797 [email protected]
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 4:30 – 5:30 (or by appointment)
Teachings Assistants: TBA
(available at the University Bookstore - please be sure to purchase the correct edition)
Kottak, Conrad Phillip. 2012. Mirror for Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Cultural
Anthropology. Eighth Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill. [Note: a cheaper
electronic version of this book is available]
Spradley, James and David W. McCurdy (eds.). 2012. Conformity and Conflict:
Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Fourteenth Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
ASSESMENT AND GRADING:
• Class participation (10%)
• 2 Short Response Papers (15% x 2 - 30%)
• Midterm Quiz (20%)
• Final Exam (40%)
Class participation (10%): Your TA will determine how specifically she or he will
evaluate your performance, but you should expect to be assessed in terms of your
2 attendance, participation, and your contributions to the discussions. Part of this grading
will be based on your weekly Comment Cards. Beginning with the second tutorial, each
week you will write a brief comment and question based upon one of the assigned
readings. These will be used in aid of discussions in the tutorial groups, where you will
hand them in at the end of the session. The cards will not be returned to you.
Response Papers (30%): You will write a 500-word response (about 1.5 pages of double-
spaced text in12-point font and with 1” margins) on two assigned readings in Conformity
and Conflict by Spradley and McCurdy. These are due in your tutorials on February 1
and March 22. In this paper you will summarize the author’s point first, and then
articulate an effective response, critique or commentary that conveys to your readers (i.e.,
your TA and your instructor) your increasing capacity to think within the terms of the
discipline and what you have learned in the course. If you need help consider the
following: How did the reading surprise you? Did it they make you think differently
about anything? Yes/no? How? Most of these essays we are reading in the class are from
a different time period, how do you think the author(s) would respond to the world/the
discipline/our society today? Is a concept or idea proposed by an author useful to think
with? How so? More information on these assignments will be delivered in class.
Midterm Quiz (20%): You will be tested on basic concepts and issues raised in the course
lectures and assigned readings. The quiz will last 50 minutes and combine multiple-
choice, true/false and short answer questions.
Final Exam (40%): The final examination will test your knowledge of the assigned
reading materials and lectures. Like the mid-term quiz, it will be made up of a mix of
multi-choice and short answer questions based on the readings and lectures.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS & POLICIES
1. Attendance. Class members are expected to attend lectures; to study the assigned
readings, films and discussion groups; and to write the assignments, the midterm and
final exam. The lectures and films will introduce materials not found in the readings
and you may be tested on these. I welcome your questions and comments during and
outside of class time. Please also feel free to bring to class any experiences, reading, or
observations you have which bear upon course themes.
2. Laptops, Cell Phones. Those who wish to use laptops for note-taking are welcome
to sit in the front 5 rows of the class. Please refrain from using laptops elsewhere in
the lecture hall. Please switch off cell phones prior to entering the lecture hall.
3. Scholarly Standards. Your response papers must adhere to scholarly standards and
styles. A style sheet with examples for preferred formatting of bibliographies and
citations is included with the instruction sheet for course assigned, available for
download on the class website. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students discovered
to have purchased or copied parts or the entirety of papers will be