ANTH 1220 Cultural Anthropology A04
Slot 10 (TuTh 1:00-2:15)


Instructor: Brian Schwimmer
Office: 433 Fletcher Argue
Phone: 474-8999

Course Description

Contemporary international migrations and communications are bringing us into direct contact with peoples of many regions with different values and ways of life. We are, accordingly, faced with the challenge of tolerating and appreciating other cultural perspectives in order to avoid the dismal alternatives of increased ethnic nationalism, hostility, and violence. In this course you will be introduced to the basic concepts and findings of cultural anthropology, the systematic and comparative study of human institutions and behaviour, and will achieve an understanding of the cultural diversity with which we are increasingly confronted and the common humanity that runs through it. We will be covering the major specializations within cultural anthropology with an emphasis on the comparative study of contemporary cultures. Over the next few months, you will learn to understand and appreciate the wide array of cultural differences that have developed throughout the world and gain new insights into the patterns and dynamics of your own traditions.

The lectures, readings, and assignments for this course are designed to give you an overview of the whole subdiscipline of cultural anthropology and its specializations. We will cover methods, theories, and empirical findings that will enable you to:
  1. describe the main principles of the anthropological analysis of culture and behaviour;
  2. apply anthropological concepts and theories to specific ethnographic case studies;
  3. evaluate competing theoretical approaches and interpretations;
  4. develop a knowledge and appreciation for cultural orientations other than your own;
  5. understand your own cultural background from a comparative perspective


Bates and Fratkin: Cultural Anthropology, 2nd edition
Heider: The Grant Valley Dani: Peaceful Warriors

The Bates text is a general text devoted to a full survey of the concepts, sub fields, and comparative findings of cultural anthropology.

The Heider text is an ethnographic case study which is to be read in co-ordination with the general text to give detailed empirical illustration of the main points and concepts.

In addition to print materials, some parts of the course will be substantially augmented through the availability of Web based instructional material.
See links available in the course syllabus. Also refer to supplemental notes for the Dani.

Tests and Assignments

Your grade will be based on two term tests and a final exam as follows

Term test 1 February 8
Term Test 2 March 15 25%
Final APR 26 1:30 PM FR Kennedy Brown Gym 50%


The following grade ranges apply:

A+ 90 - 100 A 80 - 89
B+ 75 - 79 B 70 - 74
C+ 65 - 69 C 60 - 64
D 50 - 59 F <50

Note: All grades in this course are subject to final review by the Department of Anthropology.

View Syllabus
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