Intro to Anthro 2021

This was the homepage for Introduction to Anthropology 2021. The textbook was Anthropology: What Does it Mean to Be Human? by Robert Lavenda and Emily Schultz. In the words of Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot, this course attempted to “show an underlying faith in the richness and variability of humankind” (Global Transformations 2003, 139). For recorded lectures, see the YouTube Playlist:

Part 1: Evolving

Anthropology explores what it means to be human

  • Chapter 1, “What is anthropology?”

Evolution & Myths

  • Module 1, “Anthropology, Science, Storytelling”

Evolution is Life in Process

  • Chapter 2, “Why is evolution important to anthropologists?”

Primate Flexibility

  • Chapter 3, “What can the study of primates tell us?”
  • Barbara Smuts, “What are Friends For?” Natural History (1987)

Learning to Move

  • Chapter 4 (part 1), “What can the fossil record tell us about humankind?”

Survival of the Generalist

  • Chapter 4 (part 2), “Fossil record”

Part 2: History & Culture

Human variation is more complicated than biological race

  • Chapter 5, “How does the evolutionary study of human variation undermine notions of biological race?”

Archaeology Methods

  • Chapter 6 (part 1), “How do we know about the human past?”
  • Module 2, “Dating Methods in Paleoanthropology & Archaeology”

Gender Archaeology

  • Chapter 6 (part 2), “How do we know about the human past?”
  • “Women’s Art in the Upper Paleolithic”
  • April Nowell and Melanie Chang, “Science, the Media, and Interpretations of Upper Paleolithic Figurines.” American Anthropologist (2014)

Auditioning Domestication

  • Chapter 7 (part 1), “Why did humans settle down?”
  • Jared Diamond, “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.” Discover (1987).

Stratified Complexity

  • Chapter 7 (part 2), “Why did humans build cities and establish states?”
  • Michael Wilcox, “Marketing conquest and the vanishing Indian: An Indigenous response to Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse.” Journal of Social Archaeology (2010)

Social Life

  • Chapter 8, “Why is the concept of culture important?”
  • Meredith Small, “Our Babies, Ourselves.” Natural History (1997)

Cultivating Reflexivity

  • Module 3, “On Ethnographic Methods”
  • Laura Bohannan, “Shakespeare in the Bush.” Natural History (1966)


  • Chapter 9, “Why is understanding human language important?”
  • Module 4, “Components of Language”

Part 3: Humankind Today


  • Chapter 10, “How do we make meaning?”


  • Chapter 11,“Why do anthropologists study economic relations?”
  • Richard Borshay Lee, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari.” Natural History (1969)


  • Chapter 12,“How do anthropologists study political relations?”


  • Chapter 13, “What about sex, gender, and sexuality?”
  • Alexandra Kralick, “What Our Skeletons Say About the Sex Binary.” Sapiens (2018)


  • Chapter 14 (part 1), “Where do our relatives come from?”


  • Chapter 14 (part 2), “Why do our relatives matter?”


  • Chapter 15, “What about social inequality?”

Medical Anthro

  • Chapter 16, “What is medical anthropology?”

This course is part of a series of Intro-to-Anthropology courses online. My latest attempt from 2022 is one that outlines Human Problems & Human Potential. There were three other courses that used previous editions of the textbook Anthropology: What Does it Mean to Be Human? (2018, 2017, and 2016). In 2020 I used the textbook Through the Lens of Anthropology.