Many Peoples, One World

Why are cultures and societies so different, and simultaneously, so similar? We explore these questions by reading various ethnographic studies, meanwhile developing an anthropological perspective on economy and politics, social organization, kinship and family life, ideology and ritual, ecology and adaptation. We also focus on the sources and dynamics of inequality. Against this background, we examine some of the theoretical and methodological approaches used by anthropologists in their explorations into human culture and society.

(Re)Presenting Culture

Anthropologists use ethnographic writing and films to present cultures to outsiders. Both inscribe/transcribe social life, but the portraits they create differ. Theoretical considerations as well as stylistic conventions influence both the shape and the content of the final product. In this course we examine closely a body of films to explore how each genre (e.g., observational, realist, non-narrative) serves to inscribe experienced/observed realities. Topics addressed include: How does film/video allow for a holistic framework, including historical background? How do visual portrayals conceal or highlight the perspective of the author/filmmaker? What is the relationship between the audience and the subject? To what extent do the subjects of ethnographies have control over how they are represented? Throughout, comparisons are made with written ethnographies as well as with Hollywood filmmaking influences.

Exploring the World Through Research

How do social scientists gather primary data for the study of social life? This workshop course provides an opportunity for students to learn and practice the fundamental non-positivist research techniques necessary to study of social phenomena, namely interviewing, participant observation, and focus group discussions. Workshops and field projects will provide the opportunity for students to use these techniques on topics of their own interest. Methodological and theoretical perspectives will be examined, as will methods for recording, analyzing, interpreting and writing up qualitative data.