Cultural Anthropology 2019

In my Cultural Anthropology 2018-2019 course, I adopted a package of books by Kenneth J. Guest:

This page is a rough version of the course outline for Cultural Anthropology 2019. The pages preserve student comments from Cultural Anthropology 2018. See Cultural Anthropology 2020 for reflections on this course and an updated outline using Guest’s third edition of Essentials of Cultural Anthropology.

For 2021, see the reflections on Is anthropology more important than ever? when I tried a new textbook: Introducing Anthropology: What makes us human?

Part 1: The Culture Toolkit

Humanity / Nationality


  • Edith Turner, “There are No Peripheries to Humanity”
  • Lucas Bessire, from Behold the Black Caiman


  • Nancy Scheper-Hughes, “Mind(ing) the Body: On the Trail of Organ-Stealing Rumors”
  • Keisha-Khan Perry, “‘If We Didn’t Have Water’: Black Women’s Struggle for Urban Land Rights in Brazil”



  • Chapter 3, “Fieldwork and Ethnography”
  • Fieldwork: “Mapping a Block”

Chapter 4, “Language”

Laura Bohannan, “Shakespeare in the Bush”

Number Our Days

  • Barbara Myerhoff, excerpt from Number Our Days

Part 2: Considering History & Power

Becoming White

  • Chapter 5, “Race and Racism”
  • Karen Brodkin, “How Did Jews Become White Folks?”
  • Fieldwork: “Initiating a Classroom Conversation about Race”

Stupid Deaths

  • Paul Farmer, “‘Landmine Boy’ and Stupid Deaths”


Audra Simpson, from Mohawk Interruptus

Part 3: Making Sense of Change

Jonathan Rosa and Yarimar Bonilla, “Deprovincializing Trump, decolonizing diversity, and unsettling anthropology”

Chapter 8, “Sexuality”
Deborah Gould, “Life During Wartime”

Gillian Tett, from Fool’s Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan (281-285)
Philippe Bourgois, “From Jíbaro to Crack Dealer” (238-249)

Chapter 12, “Politics and Power”
Margaret Mead, “Warfare is Only an Invention”

Chapter 13, “Religion”
George Gmelch, “Baseball Magic”

Daromir Rudnyckyj, “From Wall Street to Halal Street”
Kenneth J. Guest, “Fuzhounese Chinese Undocumented Workers”