Introduction to Anthropology

Introduction to Anthropology – 2014 – Entangling the Biological

For spring 2014, another round of Introduction to Anthropology–another chance to figure out What is Anthropology? But most importantly, another attempt to introduce anthropology as a way of thinking about and living in the world. As I noted in my Cultural Anthropology 2013 update, I’m excited to try teaching Lila Abu-Lughod’s new book Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Abu-Lughod’s 2002 article has been on my must-teach list since it came out, and it speaks to one of the most pressing issues of our time, the need to disaggregate the false images and blanket-statements about Muslims. The original article was written before Iraq, so this book is a much-welcome update.

The Abu-Lughod book will be a change from my previous 2012-2013 Introduction to Anthropology which featured Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz, Labor and Legality: An Ethnography of a Mexican Immigrant Network as a short ethnography. At the time of book orders, it appeared an anthropology of immigration reform might be dated, as US legislation seemed imminent. That has not been the case, and I already miss the Gomberg-Muñoz perspective, some of which I was able to address in my recent Peoples and Cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean course.

The other change is to not use the introductory reader Applying Anthropology. I’ve been back and forth on this 10th edition, sometimes purchasing individual articles as an e-book, sometimes assigning it, but am now moving toward a selection of pdf and web-linked articles. I’m starting off with Horace Miner’s Body Ritual among the Nacirema and am hoping to develop a four-field introduction-to-anthropology reader that can supplement a number of textbooks.

I will continue to use my preferred textbook, Lavenda and Schultz’s Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human? They are in the process of revising this textbook for a 3rd edition, and I’ve been happy to contribute to revisions.

At the same time, I’ve been discussing textbooks with Christopher DeCorse, who ran across my preliminary review of his co-authored four-field textbook Anthropology: A Global Perspective. I had been favorably impressed with the 7th edition and they are reviewing the text for the next round.

One of our first topics is to understand some of the key voices in biological anthropology. I’ve recently updated the Anthropology Blogs 2014 list, which is a great opportunity to discuss the people I’ve found useful for learning about biological anthropology and for attempting to write a companion to the traditional biological anthropology curriculum of an introduction to anthropology course.

Entangling the Biological in Introduction to Anthropology

I’ve learned a tremendous amount from all the participants in the fabulous session at the 2013 American Anthropological Association meetings, Entangling the Biological: Steps Toward an Integrative Anthropology. Highlighting the participants with active blogs, was great to see Agustin Fuentes, John Hawks, Jonathan Marks, Julienne Rutherford, and Adam Van Arsdale, with a great panel overall.

I’ve also learned a great deal from Kate Clancy at Context and Variation on Scientific American; Patrick Clarkin; Barbara J. King at NPR 13.7 Cosmos and Culture, and Daniel Lende at Neuroanthropology. Anne Buchanan, Holly Dunsworth, and Ken Weiss continue to put out high-quality and frequently-updated posts at The Mermaid’s Tale.

Hope to not be leaving too many people out, but some starters toward entangling the biological with introduction to anthropology!

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