Update: This post is part of a series on teaching four fields Introduction to Anthropology. Please see:
- My current Introduction to Anthropology course, Anthropology 2017
- The follow-up 2016 Version of Introduction to Anthropology
- The previous 2014 course themed on Entangling the Biological
- The Introduction to Anthropology 2013
- The stable pages on Introduction to Anthropology that were the original launch for the blog and website
For my 2015 Introduction to Anthropology course, I got a first look at the 3rd edition of Anthropology: What Does It Mean to be Human? by Lavenda and Schultz. I adopted this textbook since their first edition and did a review of the 2nd edition. I commented on revisions for this 3rd edition, and from an initial look, it seems like this version addresses some of my earlier concerns.
I am also excited to be adopting War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views edited by Douglas P. Fry. During the height of the Diamond-Chagnon-Pinker alliance, I originally highlighted the hardcover version of War, Peace, and Human Nature, and pined for a reasonably-priced paperback. The paperback was just released in February 2015, and I’m hoping that for an Introduction to Anthropology course this collection will show how anthropologists and others can bring together archaeology, primatology, biological anthropology, and sociocultural perspectives around a common theme.
For an ethnography, I am returning to Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz and her short but powerful Labor and Legality: An Ethnography of a Mexican Immigrant Network. I used this book in my 2013 Introduction to Anthropology course, and the issues remain very relevant–see Ryan Anderson’s interview with Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz on Savage Minds, Legality, Race, and Inequality as well as the Open Anthropology issue World on the Move: Migration Stories edited by Alisse Waterston.
Unfortunately I will not be returning to Lila Abu-Lughod’s Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Although I was excited to use this book for my 2014 Introduction to Anthropology course, I found that in many cases the students found the exact opposite message to the one Abu-Lughod was trying to convey. When confronted with long and lurid excerpts, what Abu-Lughod critiques as a “pornography of bondage” (2013:102), the pornography became more powerful than the critique. I fear that with Charlie Hebdo, Abu-Lughod’s message has even less chance of being received. There is some irony here, in that Abu-Lughod had already pointed out the particular politics of these framings in France:
That books about bad Arabs who force and enslave girls have a special place in the politics of European immigration is revealed by the enthusiastic reception of such books in France. Three of the classics I discuss in this book were first published or publicized there. . . . French anxieties about North African immigrants are particularly intense, as these Arab Muslims form a postcolonial underclass in the restless suburbs. (2013:97)
I do suppose that my 2015 Introduction to Anthropology course is something like a three-book advertisement for Oxford University Press! But Oxford UP has reciprocated: I will be trying to use this course to construct a genuinely four-field anthropology reader that can go with an Introduction to Anthropology course and specifically supplement the Lavenda and Schultz textbook. So I’ll post updates–and be grateful for your suggestions–along the way.