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ANTH 1002: Anthropology in the world

Unit coordinator and lecturer (weeks 7–12): Ryan Schram

Lecturer (weeks 1–6): Holly High

The complete syllabus (or "unit outline") is available on the official USYD web site.

USYD students who are enrolled in ANTH 1002 can find more information on the class Canvas site.

Class description

As humans, culture completes us, but we also create culture through our words and deeds. Social and cultural anthropologists are engaged in both cultural description and cultural criticism: their work contributes to understanding the world and changing it. Anthropologists challenge many dominant beliefs about how the world works. In this class, you will be introduced to the unique perspective of cultural anthropology on human experience through a study of how anthropologists have contributed to debates on contemporary issues of global importance. You will learn how anthropological understandings of culture and society help us to rethink the way we live and the world we inhabit.

Learning structure

Self-paced activities

Activity FrequencyLocation
video presentations and study notesweekly Canvas
assigned and recommended readings weekly Canvas

Live question-and-answer

Nb. All sessions run for an academic hour (50 minutes) and start at 5 minutes after the hour. All times are Sydney local time (UTC+10 until Oct. 4, then UTC+11).

Day and timeLocation
Wed. 4 p.m. Zoom via Canvas


Day and timeCodeLocation
Mon. 12 noon M12A Carslaw 350
Mon. 1 p.m. M13A Carslaw 350
Mon. 3 p.m. M15A Zoom via Canvas
Wed. 11 a.m. W11A Woolley N497
Wed. 12 noon W12A Woolley N497
Wed. 12 noon W12B Physics Road Learning Hub LG17
Wed. 1 p.m. W13A Zoom via Canvas
Wed. 1 p.m. W13B Zoom via Canvas
Wed. 3 p.m. W15A Zoom via Canvas
Thu. 10 a.m. R10A Physics Road Learning Hub LG18

Weekly plan

Module 1: Rethinking birth (Holly High)

Week 1 (Aug. 24): Ritual and rites of passage

Required readings: Eriksen (2015b)

Week 2 (Aug. 31): Birth as ritual and cultural

Required readings: Davis-Floyd (1994), Behrmann (2003)

Week 3 (Sep. 7): Rethinking birth with anthropology

Required readings: Shostak ([1982] 2000)

Module 2: Rethinking childhood (Holly High)

Week 4 (Sep. 14): Human nature and culture

Required readings: Eriksen (2015c)

Week 5 (Sep. 21): How a child and a culture create each other

Required readings: Briggs (1970)

Week 6 (Sep. 28): Reflexivity

Required readings: Allison (1991)

Module 3: Rethinking cooperation (Ryan Schram)

Week 7 (Oct. 12): The obligations of the gift

Required readings: Eriksen (2015a)

Recommended readings: Mauss ([1925] 1990), Marx ([1867] 1972)

Week 8 (Oct. 19): Spheres of exchange

Required readings: Piot (1999)

Recommended readings: Bohannan (1959), Bohannan (1955), Nairn (1976)

Week 9 (Oct. 26): Global gifts and moral economies

Required readings: Cliggett (2003)

Module 4: Rethinking multiculturalism (Ryan Schram)

Week 10 (Nov. 2): The meaning of difference in plural societies

Required readings: Gershon (2012)

Week 11 (Nov. 9): Whiteness as culture and as capital

Required readings: Shankar (2020)

Week 12 (Nov. 16): Anthropology and cultural critique


Allison, Anne. 1991. “Japanese Mothers and Obentōs: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus.” Anthropological Quarterly 64 (4): 195–208. doi:10.2307/3317212.

Behrmann, Barbara L. 2003. “Uncovering Your Own Birth History.” The Journal of Perinatal Education 12 (4). doi:10.1624/105812403X107008.

Bohannan, Paul. 1959. “The Impact of Money on an African Subsistence Economy.” The Journal of Economic History 19 (4): 491–503. doi:10.1017/S0022050700085946.

———. 1955. “Some Principles of Exchange and Investment Among the Tiv.” American Anthropologist, New Series, 57 (1): 60–70. doi:10.1525/aa.1955.57.1.02a00080.

Briggs, Jean L. 1970. “Inuttiaq’s Children.” In Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family, 109–37. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Cliggett, Lisa. 2003. “Gift Remitting and Alliance Building in Zambian Modernity: Old Answers to Modern Problems.” American Anthropologist 105 (3): 543–52. doi:10.1525/aa.2003.105.3.543.

Davis-Floyd, Robbie E. 1994. “The Ritual of Hospital Birth in America.” In Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology, edited by James Spradley, 323–40. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. 2015a. “Exchange and Consumption.” In Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, 4th ed., 217–40. London: Pluto Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt183p184.16.

———. 2015b. “Religion and Ritual.” In Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, 4th ed., 264–85. London: Pluto Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt183p184.18.

———. 2015c. “The Social Person.” In Small Places, Large Issues, 4th ed., 52–73. An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (Fourth Ed.). London: Pluto Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt183p184.8.

Gershon, Ilana. 2012. “Legislating Families as Cultural.” In No Family Is an Island: Cultural Expertise Among Samoans in Diaspora, 114–37. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. https://doi.org/10.7591/9780801464027-008.

Marx, Karl. (1867) 1972. “Capital, Vol. 1 [Selections].” In The Marx-Engels Reader, edited by Robert C. Tucker, 309–43. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Mauss, Marcel. (1925) 1990. “Selections from Introduction, Chapters 1-2, and Conclusion.” In The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, translated by W. D. Halls, 1–14, 39–46, 78–83. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Nairn, Charlie, dir. 1976. Ongka’s Big Moka. Granada Television. https://sydney.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/61USYD_INST/2rsddf/asp_summonEthnographicVideoOnlineVolume2PostSep2015AustraliaASP2086420_ant2.

Piot, Charles. 1999. “Exchange: Hierarchies of Value in an Economy of Desire.” In Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa, 52–75. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Shankar, Shalini. 2020. “Nothing Sells Like Whiteness: Race, Ontology, and American Advertising.” American Anthropologist 122 (1): 112–19. doi:10.1111/aman.13354.

Shostak, Marjorie. (1982) 2000. “First Birth.” In Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, 170–91. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Acknowledgement of country

This is an acknowledgment that the Sydney University Department of Anthropology occupies the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and furthermore that our work as anthropologists brings us into contact with many communities whose sovereignty is denied.

1002/2020/start.txt · Last modified: 2020/08/25 21:43 by Ryan Schram (admin)