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Welcome to ANTH 1002

Welcome to ANTH 1002

Ryan Schram

Mills 169 (A26)

ryan.schram@sydney.edu.au

31 July 2017

Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/1002/1.1

Welcome to anthropology

This class is an introduction to the study of anthropology. It builds on what many of you started to learn in ANTH 1001, but if you have not yet taken 1001, don't worry. You can also come at anthropology fresh in this class.

What is anthropology?

Anthropology is a study of human life in all of its forms and so it has had to be very diverse. Social and cultural anthropology is one branch of anthropology. It seeks to explain human behavior by looking at it in context, especially the social and cultural forces which affect how people think and act, and the structures and institutions which guide and control them.

Because anthropology looks at what people do in a larger cultural context, anthropology is relevant to understanding a lot of issues and problems. A broad perspective makes us question and rethink things we might take for granted, the things that everyone thinks are normal.

Get to know people

Stand up and stretch!

Look around the room.

Say hello to the people near you and introduce yourselves.

Move around if you have to find people.

What are the biggest social problems today?

Take a minute to get to know the people in your class.

Stand up, look around, greet people around you.

Ask each other what you think about this:

What are the biggest problems societies face today?

Take note of what people say. Write some ideas down.

The mechanics of the class

This class consists of lectures on Monday and Wednesday, and one weekly tutorial, starting next week.

Every week, we give you a weekly learning module on Blackboard. This is where we give you an overview of the week's topic, key terms to learn, and “task” to prepare for tutorial discussion that week. Also, you submit a weekly writing assignment on this page.

When you need help with Blackboard, email elearning@sydney.edu.au.

The readings

The required readings can be found:

Recommended supplemental readings can be found in eReadings too.

Lecture, tutorial and the weekly writing assignment all relate to the readings. Readings give you in depth description and explanation of the main ideas of the class. Bring a copy of the readings to class every week.

Weekly writing assignments

On Blackboard, you will find weekly learning modules for the whole semester. Each weekly learning module contains a question asking for your interpretation. Some of the questions are quite broad and can be answered many different ways. There are no right answers. They are not tests. The readings help you to think deeply about these questions and come up with your own ideas about them.

You write this and submit it online each week by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Your tutor will send a weekly email giving you a sense of how everyone answered the question.

The essay

The main essay of the class is due on Friday of Week 7 by 4:00 p.m. on Blackboard/Turnitin. (No hard copies are needed.)

We will give you more information about the essay in the coming weeks. Basically you will choose several of the “ethnographic case studies” from the class readings and films, plus one we will give you, and argue for a common pattern among them.

Ethnographic case studies are the main sort of thing anthropologists create. They look up close at a single situation, community or event, and describe it in detail.

The final exam

During the reading week, we will have one comprehensive final assignment. It will cover the main ideas from the whole class. You will be given a set of essay questions that you will have to address by applying the ideas of class to specific examples and synthesizing the themes from class.

A tropical island in the South Pacific

Putting people's lives in a cultural context

Anthropology is not the only way to see this map, or the world. Anthropology looks at the world through a specific set of lenses.

Some key elements of the anthropological perspective are:

  • Society and social forces are real. Social forces determine how individuals think, act and cooperate with each other. To understand why people live a certain way, we must look at how their life fits into a larger social context as part of a system.
  • Societies are not fixed or inflexible. Social rules are not simply constraints on individual choices.
  • Cultural differences are not accidents; they are part of a system. When people acquire cultural patterns of thought and behavior, they are also being recruited to a larger social whole which works toward specific goals.
  • Cultures don't die. All cultures change, but changes in a culture do not mean that the culture is being lost. Many kinds of change help a culture to adapt to new kinds of situations, and find new ways to reproduce itself and continue to pursue its goals.
  • Dichotomous categories often mislead us. Real situations cannot be understood in either-or terms. Modernity-tradition, rational-emotional, etc. distort the real situations in which people live.

Culture and the contemporary world

Classical anthropology has a bias towards continuity. When things change, it's because something from the outside is interfering with the rules and structures of society.

Yet societies change all the time, and new ways of life come into being all the time, but classical anthropology tends to ignore these facts.

So we have to update some of anthropology's key ideas in order to understand contemporary societies.

A guide to the unit

1002/1.1.txt · Last modified: 2017/07/30 15:46 by ryans