Intro to Anthro 2017

This was the homepage for Introduction to Anthropology 2017 using the 3rd edition of Anthropology: What Does it Mean to Be Human? In 2021, I used the updated 5th edition and was able to record the lectures in a YouTube Playlist:

One interesting feature of the 2017 course was an attempt to tackle “ten big questions” that anthropology addresses. The questions for Anthropology 2017:

  1. Is Capitalism the Best Economic System?
  2. Why Does Politics Matter?
  3. Is Kinship Important?
  4. Is Marriage Natural?
  5. Is Social Inequality Inevitable?
  6. Is Nationalism Bad?
  7. Is Health Subjective?
  8. When Did Globalization Begin?
  9. Why Does Globalization Feel New?
  10. What Will Happen in the Future?

Part 1: Human Nature, Race, Evolution

Horace Miner, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema,” American Anthropologist (1956)

L&S, chapter 1, “What is Anthropology?” (3-20) (via anthropology blogs)

Is Race Genetic?

Lavenda & Schultz, chapter 3, “What about Human Variation?”
Michael Yudell, Dorothy Roberts, Rob DeSalle, and Sarah Tishkoff, “Taking race out of human genetics,” Science, 2016
Yolanda Moses, “Why Do We Keep Using the Word ‘Caucasian’?” Sapiens, 2017.

L&S chapter 4, “What Can the Study of Primates Tell Us?” (97-118)
Barbara Smuts, “What are Friends For?” in Natural History (1987)

Chapter 5 (part 1 of 2), “What Can the Fossil Record Tell Us?”
“The Latest on Homo naledi” by John Hawks in American Scientist (2016)

L&S chapter 5 (part 2 of 2), “How Did Homo sapiens Evolve?” (133-161)

Part 2: Domestication, Agriculture, Culture

How Do We Know about the Human Past?
Chapter 6, “How Do We Know about the Human Past?”
“New Women of the Ice Age” by Heather Pringle in Discover (1998).

L&S ch. 7 (pt 1 of 2), “Why Did Humans Settle Down, Build Cities?” (193-212)
“The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” by Jared Diamond in Discover (1999).

L&S chapter 7 (part 2 of 2), “Why Did Humans Establish States?” (213-228)
How the Inca Leapt Canyons by John Noble Wilford in The New York Times (2007)

Lavenda & Schultz chapter 8 (part 1 of 2), “How Does the Concept of Culture Help Us?” (229-236).
“Our Babies, Ourselves” by Meredith Small in Natural History (1997)

L&S chapter 8 (part 2 of 2), “How Does the Idea of Cultural Relativism Help Us?” (237-246)
L&S module 3, “On Ethnographic Methods” (247-259)
“Shakespeare in the Bush” by Laura Bohannan in Natural History (1966)

Thu 3/23: L&S ch. 9, “Why Is Understanding Human Language Important?” (261-284)
“How Language Shapes Thought” by Lera Boroditsky in Scientific American (2011).

L&S chapter 10, “How Do We Make Meaning?” (289-322)

Part 3: Anthropology 2017 & Global Transformations

1. Is Capitalism the Best Economic System?
L&S chapter 11, “Why Do Anthropologists Study Economic Relations?” (323-348)
Richard Borshay Lee, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” in Natural History (1969).

2. Why Does Politics Matter?
L&S ch. 12, “How Do Anthropologists Study Political Relations?” (349-372)
Jack Weatherford, “Tribal Politics in Washington” in PoLAR – Political and Legal Anthropology Review (1993)

3. Is Kinship Important?
L&S ch. 13 (part 1of2), “Where Do Our Relatives Come From?” (373-388)
Jason Antrosio, “Anthropology, Sex, Gender, Sexuality: Gender is a Social Construction” blog-post on Living Anthropologically (2012)

4. Is Marriage Natural?
L&S chapter 13 (part 2 of 2), “What is Marriage?” (388-414)
Alice Dreger, “When Taking Multiple Husbands Makes Sense” in The Atlantic (2013)

5. Is Social Inequality Inevitable?
L&S chapter 14 (part 1 of 2), “What about Social Inequality?” (415-434)

6. Is Nationalism Bad?
L&S chapter 14 (part 2 of 2), “What about Nation and Nationalism?” (434-446)
Richard Handler, “Let’s Keep Arguing About Flags and Statues” in Sapiens (2016).
Peggy Levitt, “Why We Need Transnational Social Protection for Migrants” in Sapiens (2017).

7. Is Health Subjective?
L&S chapter 15, “How is Anthropology Applied in Medicine?” (447-474)

8. When Did Globalization Begin?
L&S module 5, “Background to the Global Political Economy” (475-478)
Charles C. Mann, “The Real Story of Globalization” in The Wall Street Journal (2011)

9. Why Does Globalization Feel New?
L&S chapter 16 (part 1 of 2) “What about Globalization?” (479-501)
Rubén G. Rumbaut, “Immigration’s Complexities, Assimilation’s Discontents” in Contexts (2008)

10. What Will Happen in the Future?
L&S ch. 16, (part 2 of 2) “Can We Be at Home in a Global World?” (501-509)

This course is part of a series of Intro-to-Anthropology courses online. In 2024 I am using the new textbook The Human Story: An Introduction to Anthropology with this course outline. There were three other courses that used the textbook Anthropology: What Does it Mean to Be Human? (2021, 2018, and 2016). There was one attempt in spring 2022 as a textbook-free article-only version: Human Problems & Human Potential. I also attempted in fall 2023 to introduce anthropological insights as a first-year seminar titled People: Discovering Anthropology.

There were two courses using the textbook Through the Lens of Anthropology, in 2020 and Intro to Anthro 2022. For a full recorded lecture series from fall 2022, see:

Living Anthropologically means documenting history, interconnection, and power during a time of global transformation. We need to care for others as we attempt to build a world together. This blog is a personal project of Jason Antrosio, author of Fast, Easy, and In Cash: Artisan Hardship and Hope in the Global Economy. For updates, subscribe to the YouTube channel or follow on Twitter.

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