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ANTH 1002: Anthropology in the world

Semester 2, 2022

Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human. It begins with the assumption that diversity is the defining characteristic of humanity, and more specifically by the capacity to acquire a specific way of life and set of roles in a system. Hence, anthropologists conclude (1) there is no right, correct, or normal way for people to live or to create a community for themselves, and (2) by looking at humanity in a global frame, each person can also gain critical insight into their own life. If there are so many ways of life that people have created and continue to create for themselves, then anthropologists say we each must ask why do I have to be this way? and isn’t there some alternative way people can adopt? This class introduces the tools of anthropology with the aim of equipping students to question their own existence and the authority of dominant ideas.

A busy, colorful series of abstract figures representing people in a chain linking arm in arm and rows of cash and abstract shapes. A Dalle-2 generated image using the prompt: “An oil painting depicting cash remittances among transnational families in the style of Keith Haring.” See https://labs.openai.com/s/X3lXfMsHvnbKffkihNafJ2fp.


Coordinator and lecturer (weeks 1–7): Ryan Schram

Lecturers: Leo Couacaud (weeks 8–10) and Cate Massola (weeks 11–13)

Weekly plan of lectures and topics

Week & Date Topic Main reading Other reading
1 Anthropology as “ruthless criticism” Marx ([1843] 1978)
Aug 01 1. Why do we need anthropology?
Aug 03 2. Anthropology as critique
Module I: Gifts and commodities
2 Society as a system of total services Eriksen (2015b) Mauss ([1925] 1990)
Aug 08 1. Society as a total system
Aug 10 2. The obligations of the gift
3 A world of commodities West (2012) Marx ([1867] 1972)
Aug 15 1. Commodities, capitalism, and private property
Aug 17 2. Global capitalism and its contradictions
4 Spheres of exchange & The efflorescence of exchange Sharp (2013) Bohannan (1959); Bohannan (1955); Sahlins (1992)
Aug 22 1. Spheres of exchange in historical perspective
Aug 24 2. The efflorescence of exchange
Module II: Kinship and care in the global economy
5 Family matters Eriksen (2015c) Carsten (1995)
Aug 29 1. Kinship is culture, not nature
Aug 31 2. Kinship as social action
6 Global gifts and body shopping Zharkevich (2019) Krause and Bressan (2018); Leinaweaver (2010); Vora (2009)
Sep 05 1. Global gifts
Sep 07 2. The commodification of kin
7 Care as capital after the Fordist social contract Mazelis (2015); Nelson (2000)
Sep 12 1. Rules as resources
Sep 14 2. Informal economies of care
Module III: Ethnic pluralism in comparative perspective (Leo Couacaud)
8 Ethnicity and cultural diversity Eriksen (2015a) Couacaud (2016)
Sep 19 1. Monday lecture
Sep 21 2. Wednesday lecture
B Mandatory school closure for seasonal celebrations. No class, Sep 26–Oct 3
9 Managing diversity in plural societies Gowricharn (2015); Eriksen (1997) Eriksen (1994)
Oct 03 1. No Monday lecture
Oct 05 2. Wednesday lecture
10 Migration and multiculturalism in Western societies Vertovec (2007) Rex (1996); Taussig (1991)
Oct 10 1. Monday lecture
Oct 12 2. Wednesday lecture
Module IV: The possibility of “decolonization”—Museums as sites of encounter (Cate Massola)
11 Indigenous creations in cultural institutions Clifford (1988) Thomas (1991); Morphy (2001); Rubin (1984)
Oct 17 1. Monday lecture
Oct 19 2. Wednesday lecture
12 Decolonising cultural institutions Andrews (2021) Riley (2021); Eldridge (1996); Jones and Birdsall-Jones (2014); Leatherdale (2022)
Oct 24 1. Monday lecture
Oct 26 2. Wednesday lecture
13 Community collections Massola (n.d.) Berk (2022); University of Sydney Library and Sentance (2021)
Oct 31 1. Monday lecture
Nov 02 2. Wednesday lecture
14 Reading week
15 Final exams period


Andrews, Jilda. 2021. “Value Creation and Museums from an Indigenous Perspective.” In Museums, Societies and the Creation of Value, edited by Howard Morphy and Robyn McKenzie, 1st ed., 225–39. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003139324-17.

Berk, Christopher D. 2022. “Tasmanian Aboriginal Material Culture, Compensation, Belonging.” Museum Anthropology 45 (1): 15–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/muan.12235.

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

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

Carsten, Janet. 1995. “The Substance of Kinship and the Heat of the Hearth: Feeding, Personhood, and Relatedness Among Malays in Pulau Langkawi.” American Ethnologist 22 (2): 223–41. https://doi.org/10.2307/646700.

Clifford, James. 1988. “On Collecting Art and Culture.” In The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art, 215–51. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Couacaud, Leo. 2016. “Does Holiness Have a Color? The Religious, Ethnic, and Political Semiotics of Colors in Mauritius.” Signs and Society 4 (2): 176–214. https://doi.org/10.1086/688513.

Eldridge, Deborah. 1996. “Aboriginal people need to control their own culture.” In Curatorship: Indigenous perspectives in post-colonial societies—Proceedings, 18–22. Ottawa: Published by the Canadian Museum of Civilization with the Commonwealth Association of Museums and the University of Victoria.

Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. 1994. “Nationalism, Mauritian Style: Cultural Unity and Ethnic Diversity.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 36 (3): 549–74. https://doi.org/10.1017/S001041750001923X.

———. 1997. “Multiculturalism, Individualism and Human Rights: Romanticism, the Enlightenment and Lessons from Mauritius.” In Human Rights, Culture and Context: Anthropological Perspectives, edited by Richard Wilson, 49–69.

———. 2015a. “Ethnicity.” In Small Places, Large Issues, 4th ed., 329–44. An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (Fourth Edition). London: Pluto Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt183p184.21.

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

———. 2015c. “Kinship as Descent.” In Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, 4th ed., 117–35. London: Pluto Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt183p184.11.

Gowricharn, Ruben. 2015. “Creole Hegemony in Caribbean Societies: The Case of Suriname: Creole Hegemony in Caribbean Societies: The Case of Suriname.” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 15 (2): 272–91. https://doi.org/10.1111/sena.12147.

Jones, Tod, and Christina Birdsall-Jones. 2014. “Meeting Places: Drivers of Change in Australian Aboriginal Cultural Institutions.” International Journal of Cultural Policy 20 (3): 296–317. https://doi.org/10.1080/10286632.2013.786059.

Krause, Elizabeth L., and Massimo Bressan. 2018. “Circulating Children, Underwriting Capitalism: Chinese Global Households and Fast Fashion in Italy.” Current Anthropology 59 (5): 572–95. https://doi.org/10.1086/699826.

Leatherdale, Verity. 2022. “Indigenous Heritage Curator Appointed to Chau Chak Wing Museum.” The University of Sydney (blog). March 2, 2022. https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2022/03/02/indigenous-heritage-curator-appointed-to-chau-chak-wing-museum-.html.

Leinaweaver, Jessaca B. 2010. “Outsourcing Care: How Peruvian Migrants Meet Transnational Family Obligations.” Latin American Perspectives 37 (5): 67–87. https://doi.org/10.1177/0094582X10380222.

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.

———. (1843) 1978. “For a ruthless criticism of everything existing.” In The Marx-Engels reader, edited by Robert C. Tucker, 12–15. New York: Norton. http://archive.org/details/marxengelsreader00tuck.

Massola, Catherine. n.d. “Community Collections: Returning to an (Un) Imagined Future.” Museum Anthropology.

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.

Mazelis, Joan Maya. 2015. “‘I Got to Try to Give Back’: How Reciprocity Norms in a Poor People’s Organization Influence Members’ Social Capital.” Journal of Poverty 19 (1): 109–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/10875549.2014.979458.

Morphy, Howard. 2001. “Seeing Aboriginal Art in the Gallery.” Humanities Research 8 (1): 37–50. https://doi.org/10.3316/ielapa.200200366.

Nelson, Margaret K. 2000. “Single Mothers and Social Support: The Commitment to, and Retreat from, Reciprocity.” Qualitative Sociology 23 (3): 291–317. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005567910606.

Rex, John. 1996. “The Political Sociology of a Multicultural Society.” In Ethnic Minorities in the Modern Nation State: Working Papers in the Theory of Multiculturalism and Political Integration, edited by John Rex, 30–48. Migration, Minorities and Citizenship. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230375604_3.

Riley, Lynette. 2021. “The Use of Aboriginal Cultural Traditions in Art.” Curriculum Perspectives 41 (1): 85–92. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41297-020-00124-2.

Rubin, William. 1984. “Modernist primitivism: An introduction.” In “Primitivism” in 20th century art: Affinity of the tribal and the modern, 1–15. New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Sahlins, Marshall. 1992. “The Economics of Develop-Man in the Pacific.” Res 21: 13–25.

Sharp, Timothy L. 2013. “Baias, Bisnis, and Betel Nut: The Place of Traders in the Making of a Melanesian Market.” In Engaging with Capitalism: Cases from Oceania, edited by Kate Barclay and Fiona McCormack, 227–56. Research in Economic Anthropology 33. Bingley, Eng., UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Taussig, Michael T. 1991. “An Australian Hero.” In The Nervous System, 53–77. London: Routledge.

Thomas, Nicholas. 1991. “The European Appropriation of Indigenous Things.” In Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific, 125–84. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

University of Sydney Library, and Nathan Sentance. 2021. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols.” https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/24602.

Vertovec, Steven. 2007. “Super-Diversity and Its Implications.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30 (6): 1024–54. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870701599465.

Vora, Kalindi. 2009. “Indian Transnational Surrogacy and the Commodification of Vital Energy.” Subjectivity 28 (1): 266–78. https://doi.org/10.1057/sub.2009.14.

West, Paige. 2012. “Village Coffee.” In From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea, 101–29. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Zharkevich, Ina. 2019. “Money and Blood: Remittances as a Substance of Relatedness in Transnational Families in Nepal.” American Anthropologist 121 (4): 884–96. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13316.

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