Introduction to Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology

University of Toronto Mississauga

Anthropology is the global and holistic study of human biology and behaviour, and includes four subfields: biological anthropology, archaeology, sociocultural anthropology and linguistics. The material covered is directed to answering the question: What makes us human? This course is a survey of sociocultural and linguistic anthropology.
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24HR Notes for ANT102H5

Available 24 hours after each lecture

Victor Barac, Todd Sanders

ANT102H5 Syllabus for Victor Barac, Todd Sanders — Fall 2018

ANT102H5F – Fall 2018
Lecture: Mondays and Wednesdays 15:00-16:00 or 16:00-17:00 IB 110
V. Barac (linguistic anthropology)
Office hours: Thursdays 13:00-15:00; and by appointment
T. Sanders (socio-cultural anthropology)
Office hours: Thursdays 13:00-15:00; and by appointment
Head Teaching Assistant:
Stephen Berquist (
Course Description
Socio-cultural and linguistic anthropology are two of the four major sub-disciplines of American
anthropology, which also includes biological anthropology and archeology. The central claim
these two subdisciplines make is that both language and culture play a significant role in shaping
human experience – as significant a role as does biology. Linguistic anthropologists argue that
language lies at the root of culture insofar as cultural beliefs and ideas must always be conveyed
through words and symbols if they are to be shared among individuals. Socio-cultural
anthropologists explore how the knowledges, beliefs and ideas that make up culture – as well as
embodied practices, emotions, and so on – are socially and historically constituted rather than
natural. They are not shared by all humans but instead depend on the particularities of time and
place. Socio-cultural anthropology shows that human categories including kinship, gender, the
body and race are not primarily determined by genes, pigmentation, or physiological reflexes.
Rather, they are socially and culturally constituted because they mean different things to
different people and because people across the world do very different things with and to them.
This class combines the subfields of linguistic and socio-cultural anthropology to invite students
to critically interrogate who we are and what we do.
Course Objectives
To introduce ideas about “culture”, “society” and “language”: what they are and what
role they play in shaping human lives;
To explore some basic methods and modes of analysis characteristic of socio-cultural
and linguistic anthropology;
To raise awareness of ethnocentricity, cultural relativism and essentialist thinking;
To use anthropological concepts and examples to understand contemporary social
To train students to listen to a 50-minute lecture and grasp its central point.
Course Readings
The course has a Reader that is available at the UTM bookstore and on reserve in the library. (If
the bookstore runs out of Readers, you can order one and prepay, and they will call you when it’s
ready). Students are expected to have completed the scheduled readings before each lecture.
Students will find study questions for many course readings on Quercus. Though preparation
time varies, students should budget for on average around six hours per week. Optional extra
readings are suggested for those with the time and inclination to go further, but these will not be
examinable materials. Students who do not do the required readings are unlikely to pass the
There will be a few movies during the course, and these will be examinable material. Students
should not aim to grasp every detail of the movies but the central point or take-home message.
Midterm and Final Exam
The midterm and the final exam will cover the socio-cultural and linguistic anthropological
topics dealt with in the readings and movies and elaborated on in lectures. The midterm will
examine class materials covered to that point. The final exam will not be cumulative; it will
examine only class materials from the second half of the course. The mid-term will be multiple-
choice questions; the final will be a mix of multiple-choice and short answer questions. Each
test/exam is worth 50% of the course grade. Final marks are tentative until approved by the
Department Chair and Dean’s Office, and recorded in the Office of the Registrar.
Grade Weighting
50% midterm test
50% final exam
You are expected to arrive and be settled in your seat by the beginning of class (ten minutes past
the hour) and to remain until the end of class. Unless you become ill, do not begin packing up
books or stand to leave before the end of class; this is distracting to all. If you cannot stay for the
entire period, please sit near the door and leave quietly.
Recording Devices & Posting Notes
The use of any audio or visual recording devices – tape and digital recorders, camcorders,
cameras, cell phones, etc. – is strictly prohibited. All lecture materials are copyrighted by the
instructors and must not be posted in any form online or elsewhere. Students who make lectures
or lecture notes available online will receive a ‘0’ for the course.
In lectures, students are expected to pay close attention. Refrain from talking during lectures and
films. Even quiet talking is distracting and disrespectful to your fellow students and instructor.
Turn off mobile phones, and do not use laptops for email or other non-class-related activities.
Email Policy
Emailing should be reserved for urgent matters only. Substantive issues concerning course
materials, or everyday course-related business, should be raised during office hours. Email
should not be used as an alternative to meeting with instructors or TAs, nor to receive private
tutorials or to ask about materials covered in lectures you missed. We endeavour to answer
emails within two business days. Weekends and holidays are not business days. Address all
email queries to the Head TA in the first instance.
If you must email for urgent matters, treat email as a form of professional communication. Please
write courteously and clearly; do not use text-messaging abbreviations. Be sure to provide a
summary of the email topic in the Subject line (do not just write 'Hi' or leave the Subject blank,
or your email may be rejected as junk mail by the U of T server). Include your name and student
number. Use your UTOR email address: the university server often rejects hotmail and other
accounts as potential spam. Do not send attachments unless approved to do so.
Missed tests and exams
Students who miss the midterm test for reasons beyond their control (i.e., illness or an accident)
may, within 72 hours of the missed test, submit to Professor Sanders a written request for special
consideration explaining the reason for missing the test; appropriate documentation, determined
by the instructor (a medical certificate, accident reports, etc.), must be attached. All
documentation must be emailed to the instructor AND submitted in its original form to Joanna
Trochanowski in HSC300 by the 72-hour deadline. Late requests for special consideration will
not be considered.
Medical documentation must include an original U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury
form (available at stating that the student was examined and
diagnosed at the time of the illness and, in the case of tests, on the day of the test or immediately
after (i.e. the next day), and must indicate a serious degree of incapacitation on academic
functioning (e.g. unable to attend classes, write a test/examination). A statement from a
physician that merely confirms a report of illness and/or disability made by the student is not
acceptable. Students who do not comply with this regulation will receive a ‘0’ for the test. The
make-up test will be essay format and held one week after the original test date.
Important: By submitting a request for special consideration, students grant the Department of
Anthropology permission to verify the authenticity of Medical Certificates by contacting medical
offices. Students are not to make any changes to Medical Certificates. Students who submit
forged or altered documentation are subject to severe academic penalties.
Make-ups for missed final exams are arranged by the Registrar’s Office and follow similar
procedures (see student handbook for details). Briefly, students who cannot write a final
examination due to illness or other allowable causes must file an online petition and provide
original supporting documentation to the Office of the Registrar within 72 hours of the missed
examination. Late petitions will not be considered. If illness is cited as the reason for a deferred
exam request, a U of T Medical Certificate must show that you were examined and/or diagnosed
at the time of illness and on the date of the exam, or by the day after at the latest. Students must
also record their absence on ROSI on the day of the missed exam or by the day after at the latest.
If the Registrar approves a deferred exam request, a non-refundable fee of $70 is required. These
requirements may change and students should check the Registrar’s Office for the latest
information. The format for the make-up exam will be essay questions.
Academic Integrity
The course instructors and TAs do not condone any form of plagiarism, fraud, misrepresentation
or cheating and will utilize the University systems to act against these offences. Please see the
University's “Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters” for details.
We welcome students with diverse learning styles and needs in this course. Those with a
disability/health condition who may require accommodation should contact the course instructors
and/or the AccessAbility Resource Centre at the start of the course. The Centre is located in
Room 2037, Davis Building. Phone: (905) 569-4699; email:
September 10th: Introduction to the Course
September 12th: What is Socio-Cultural Anthropology?
Hall, E.F. and T. Sanders 2016. Fracking Big Ben: science, policy, and fractivism in the United
Kingdom. Practicing Anthropology 38(3), 59-60.
Miner, H. 2012 [1956]. Body ritual among the Nacirema. In Conformity and
Conflict. Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Fourteenth Edition. Pearson, pp. 287-291.
Muehlebach, A. 2016. How to kill the demos: the water struggle in Italy.
September 17th: Fieldwork
Lee, R. 2012 [1974]. Eating Christmas in the Kalahari. In Conformity and
Conflict. Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Fourteenth Edition. Pearson, pp. 13-19.
Sterk, C. 2012. Fieldwork on prostitution in the era of AIDS. In Conformity and
Conflict. Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Fourteenth Edition. Pearson, pp. 20-30.
Optional Additional Reading:
September 19th: Identity and Difference
Nelkin, D. and M. Lindee 1995. ‘The power of the gene’ (ch. 1, pp. 1-18) and ‘Creating natural
distinctions’ (ch. 6, pp. 102-126) In The DNA Mystique: The Gene as Cultural Icon. New York:
W. H. Freeman & Company.
September 24th: Gender
Kulick, D. 1997. The gender of Brazilian transgendered prostitutes. American Anthropologist
99(3), 574-585.
Martin, E. 1991. The egg and the sperm: how science has constructed a romance based on
stereotypical male-female roles. Signs 16(3), 485-501.
Optional Additional Reading:
September 26th: Film. Paradise Bent: Boys will be Girls in Samoa (753904)
October 1st: Age, Aging and Generation
Blacking, J. 1990. Growing old gracefully: physical, social and spiritual transformations in
Venda society, 1956-66. In Anthropology and the Riddle of the Sphinx: Paradoxes of Change in
the Life Course. pp. 121-130. (ed. P. H. Spencer). London: Routledge.
Optional film: To Find the Baruya Story: An Anthropologist at Work with a New Guinea Tribe
(by Allison & Marek Jablonko, & Stephen Olsson).
October 3rd: Time and Personhood
Parry, J. 1982. Sacrificial death and the necrophagous ascetic. In Death and the Regeneration of
Life (eds) M. Bloch & J. Parry. pp. 74-110. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
October 15th: Kinship and Relatedness
Carsten, J. 1995. The substance of kinship and the heat of the hearth: feeding, personhood, and
relatedness among Malays in Pulau Langkawi. American Ethnologist 22(2), 223-241.
Thompson, C. 2001. Strategic naturalizing: kinship in an infertility clinic. In Relative Values:
Reconfiguring Kinship (eds) S. Franklin & S. McKinnon. pp. 175- 202. Durham: Duke
University Press.
Optional Additional Reading:
October 17th: Race and Ethnicity
Chin 1999. Ethnically correct dolls: Toying with the race industry. American Anthropologist
101(2), 305-319.
Fish, J. M. 2012. Mixed blood. In Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology.
Fourteenth Edition. Pearson, pp. 217-225.
Optional Additional Reading:
October 22nd: Film. Race: The Power of an Illusion (751242)
October 24th: MID-TERM
October 29th: Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
October 31st: Language and Communication
Bruce W. Rowe and Diane P. Levine 2009 “Introduction: The Nature of Communication.” In A
Concise Introduction to Linguistics, Second Edition, 1-21. Allyn and Bacon / Pearson.
November 5th: Language Origins
George Yule. 2014. “The Origins of Language.” In The Study of Language, 5th Edition. 2-9.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Charles Hockett. 2017. “The Origin of Speech.” In Making Sense of Language: Readings in
Culture and Communication, Third Edition, edited by Susan D. Blum, 30-36. New York, NY:
Oxford University Press.
November 7th: Learning to Speak and Communicative Competence
Laura Ahearn 2012 “Language Acquisition and Socialization.” In Living Language: An
Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology, 50-64. Wiley-Blackwell.
November 12th: Phonology
Nancy Parrott Hickerson 2000 “A World of LanguagesThe Descriptive Study of Languages.”
In Linguistic Anthropology, Second Edition, 67-84. Thomson/Wadsworth.
November 14th: Morphology and Syntax
Nancy Parrott Hickerson 2000 “A World of LanguagesThe Descriptive Study of Languages.”
In Linguistic Anthropology, Second Edition, 84-91; 95-98. Thomson/Wadsworth.
November 19th: Semantics and Pragmatics
J. L. Austin 2017 “How to Do Things with Words.” In Making Sense of Language: Readings in
Culture and Communication, Third Edition, edited by Susan D. Blum, 214-218. New York /
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
James P. Spradley and Brenda J. Mann 2008 “How to Ask for a Drink.” In Conformity and
Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology – 2008 Edition, edited by James Spradley and
David W. McCurdy, 76-84. Allyn and Bacon / Pearson.
November 21st: Language, Culture, and Thought
Harriet Joseph Ottenheimer. 2013. “Language and Culture.” In The Anthropology of Language:
An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology, Third Edition, 17-44. Belmont, CA: Cengage /
Guy Deutscher 2012 “Whorf Revisited: You Are What You Speak.” In Conformity and Conflict:
Readings in Cultural Anthropology, Fourteenth Edition, edited by James Spradley and David W.
McCurdy, 49-56. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall / Pearson.
November 26th: Language and Society
Shalini Shankar 2017 “Speaking Like a Model Minority: “FOB” Styles, Gender, and Racial
Meanings Among Desi Teens in Silicon Valley.” In Cultural Anthropology: Contemporary,
Public, and Critical Readings, edited by Keri Vacanti Brondo, 76-87. New York / Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
November 28th: Writing Systems
Writing Systems. In The Routledge Linguistics Encyclopedia, Third Edition, Kirsten Malmkjaer
(ed.). Routledge, pp. 554-561.
December 3rd: Language Variation
Zdenek Salzmann 2007 “Language Variation.” In Language, Culture, and Society: An
Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology, Fourth Edition, 173-195. Boulder, CO: Westview Press
/ Perseus.
December 5th: Language, Power, and Politics
Lionel Wee 2017 “Language Politics and Global City.” In Making Sense of Language: Readings
in Culture and Communication, Third Edition, edited by Susan D. Blum, 504-513. New York /
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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