Anthropology Courses

Anthropology Course Textbooks

For anthropology courses, the pages and posts of Living Anthropologically can be integrated with four-fields textbooks to create an Introduction to Anthropology. See also What is Anthropology? and the Anthropology Blogs for useful anthropology course resources. The category of Living Anthropologically titled “Anthropology Courses” features related blog posts.

Introduction to Anthropology Courses

Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human?, Lavenda & Schultz

Lavenda and Schultz, Anthropology: What Does it Mean to be Human? is my preferred textbook in four field Introduction to Anthropology courses. See Introduction to Anthropology 2018 for a course outline. I previously taught Anthropology 2017 and Anthropology 2016 using the3rd edition of Lavenda & Schultz. I prefer the Lavenda and Schultz textbook series because of its academic sophistication, manageable length, and reasonable price. I’ve also written a review of the 2nd edition and earlier links from the second edition to the sections on Biological Anthropology. For those who might still have the first edition, I previously wrote 1st edition cross-referenced links.

Anthropology: Asking Questions about Human Origins, Diversity, & Culture, Welsch,‎ Vivanco,‎ & Fuentes

New for 2018, I’ve written an Intro to Anthro 2018 course outline using Anthropology: Asking Questions about Human Origins, Diversity, and Culture by Welsch, Vivanco, and Fuentes. Although I have previously criticized the Welsch and Vivanco account of the role of colonialism (see How did anthropology begin? and Anthropology’s Unfinished Revolution), I decided this textbook was important enough to try to make work as an anthropology course.

Cultural Anthropology Courses

Although many anthropologists teach cultural anthropology as a standalone anthropology course that can function as an introduction to anthropology, I prefer to teach it as a follow-up on a more general anthropology course. My Cultural Anthropology 2016 course used Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Global Transformations. For Cultural Anthropology 2018, I will use the textbook and reader edited by Kenneth Guest.

Cultural Ecology

I’ve been especially happy with being able to develop a Cultural Ecology course that examines some of the fundamental issues in anthropology. The backbone of my course is Tim Ingold’s The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Ingold is hardly an introductory text! However, it can function as a renewal and appreciation of some of the root issues for introductory anthropology courses.

Other Textbooks for Introduction to Anthropology Courses

Through the Lens of Anthropology, Muckle and González

I have been very impressed with the public anthropological work of co-authors Bob Muckle and Laura González. I am also a fan of the University of Toronto press and their Teaching Culture blog. I have not yet been able to review Through the Lens of Anthropology: An Introduction to Human Evolution and Culture, but it is “next up” on my list of to-review anthropology textbooks.

Applying Anthropology, Podolefsky, Brown, & Lacy, editors.

Applying Anthropology continues to be the only four field reader for Introduction to Anthropology, and I’ve used it through the 10th edition. See the Applying Anthropology cross references. For those who are still using the 9th edition, or articles from it, please see the cross-references at Applying Anthropology 9th Edition.


Anthropology, Ember, Ember, and Peregrine.

Ember Anthropology has some of the best references, and in some places comes closest to the perspective of Living Anthropologically. Ember Anthropology also has some of the worst sections, along with some idiosyncracies.


Anthropology: The Human Challenge, Haviland, Prins, Walrath, McBride

Haviland is a conceptual favorite for treatment of evolution, human nature, and race. However, this is a very long, encyclopedic, and expensive textbook. Moreover, the Haviland series seems to occasion vitriol as “preachy liberal anthropologists.”


Essence of Anthropology 3rd Edition, Haviland, Prins, Walrath, McBride

The condensed Haviland Essence of Anthropology could be an ideal four-field textbook, shorter than the encyclopedic Haviland. However, it’s difficult to find this textbook for less than $90, making it more expensive than some of the comprehensive textbooks.


Anthropology: Appreciating Human Diversity, Conrad Kottak

Kottak’s textbook is usually dependable and includes contemporary references. The 14th Edition of the four-field Anthropology: Appreciating Human Diversity seems to show signs of wear, as shuffling chapters and inserting pop culture references has its limits.


Window on Humanity 5th Edition, Conrad Kottak

Window on Humanity is the condensed version of Kottak’s Anthropology: Appreciating Human Diversity. As of 2012-2013, this condensed version was more updated than the comprehensive textbook, much easier to read, and less expensive. However, this version is still expensive, with no color photographs.


Anthropology, Barbara Miller

Barbara Miller’s four-field anthropology textbook went into second edition for 2008, but there have not been more updates. Miller may be headed back to cultural anthropology course textbooks. This textbook has some very interesting sections, but is uneven.


Introducing Anthropology, Michael Alan Park

Park’s 5th Edition of Introducing Anthropology has a well-written conversational style. For a four-field text it is short and relatively inexpensive. However, this textbook comes close to biological determinism, or portraying culture as an overlay on biology. It also shows little updating for the 5th edition.


Anthropology: A Global Perspective, Scupin and DeCorse

The 7th Edition of Scupin and DeCorse is a major upgrade from previous editions. The authors have admirable four-field experience and a particularly strong focus on political economy–they see themselves working in the tradition of Eric Wolf. There are some troubling references to human universals and evolutionary psychology. The text is still relatively expensive, but it is worth considering.

For anthropology courses, Living Anthropologically can be integrated with four-fields textbooks for introductory anthropology classes, as well as sociocultural anthropology.
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