Intro to Anthro 2018 – Welsch, Vivanco, Fuentes

What is Intro-to-Anthro about?

This is an outline for an introductory course based on Anthropology: Asking Questions about Human Origins, Diversity, and Culture by Robert L. Welsch,‎ Luis A. Vivanco,‎ and Agustín Fuentes, published in 2017 by the Oxford University Press. The question of “What is Intro to Anthro about?” is best answered by taking an Introduction to Anthropology.

The course outline is divided into three sections. I divided most of the 19 chapters of Welsch, Vivanco and Fuentes into two parts, but left two of the shorter chapters as stand-alones. The course outline is ideal for a 14-15 week course that meets three times each week, leaving room for exams and other activities. The outline can be easily adjusted for other formats or structured for independent reading. The links in [brackets] point to related material on Living Anthropologically and previous Intro to Anthro classes.

A. Key Concepts for ‘What is Intro to Anthro About?’

1. How did anthropology begin?

2. How do anthropologists study?

  • Chapter 1, “Anthropology: Asking Questions About Humanity” (15-29).
  • Two Bears, Davina. 2006. “Navajo Archaeologist Is Not an Oxymoron: A Tribal Archaeologist’s Experience.” The American Indian Quarterly 30(3):381-387.
  • Amuyunzu-Nyamongo, Mary. 2006. “Challenges and Prospects for Applied Anthropology in Kenya. In African Anthropologies: History, Critique and Practice, edited by M. Ntarangwi, D. Mills, and M. Babiker, 237-249. Dakar: CODESRIA.

3. What is culture in anthro?

Chapter 2, “Culture: Giving Meaning to Human Lives” (31-39)

4. Is culture always changing?

Chapter 2, “Culture: Giving Meaning to Human Lives” (39-53)

5. What is evolution in anthropology?

6. What is the evolutionary process?

7. What are some anthropological methods for studying the past?

Chapter 4, “Anthropological Methods: Researching Human Beings and Their Pasts” (83-99)

8. How do cultural anthropologists conduct research?

Chapter 4, “Anthropological Methods: Researching Human Beings and Their Pasts” (100-113)

9. Why is the study of linguistic anthropology important?

Chapter 5, “Linguistic Anthropology: Relating Language and Culture” (115-125)

10. How does language affect culture?

Chapter 5, “Linguistic Anthropology: Relating Language and Culture” (126-139)

11. Is the world becoming more homogeneous?

Chapter 6, “Globalization and Culture: Understanding Global Interconnections” (141-163)

B. Becoming Human

12. Why are humans primates?

Chapter 7, “Living Primates: Comparing Monkeys, Apes, and Humans” (167-181)

13. How are humans different from apes?

14. Who are the earliest humans?

Chapter 8, “Ancestral Humans: Understanding the Human Family Tree” (195-213)

15. How is culture important to human evolution?

  • Chapter 8, “Ancestral Humans: Understanding the Human Family Tree” (214-235)
  • Antón, Susan C., and Christopher W. Kuzawa. 2017. “Early Homo, Plasticity and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.” Interface Focus 7(5).

16. What is biocultural evolution?

Chapter 9, “Human Biocultural Evolution: Emergence of the Biocultural Animal” (237-249)

17. Are modern humans evolving?

Chapter 9, “Human Biocultural Evolution: Emergence of the Biocultural Animal” (250-261)

18. Why do humans look different?

Chapter 10, “Contemporary Human Biodiversity: Understanding Our Differences and Similarities” (263-274)

19. What are the physical effects of discrimination?

Chapter 10, “Contemporary Human Biodiversity: Understanding Our Differences and Similarities” (275-289)

20. What do medical anthropologists do?

Chapter 11, “The Body: Biocultural Perspectives on Health and Illness” (291-313)

21. Why did humans start domesticating plants and animals?

Chapter 12, “Early Agriculture and the Neolithic Revolution: Modifying the Environment to Satisfy Human Demands” (317-330)

22. How did the domestication of plants and animals change human societies?

  • Chapter 12, “Early Agriculture and the Neolithic Revolution: Modifying the Environment to Satisfy Human Demands” (331-343)
  • Falk, Dean and Charles Hildebolt. 2017. “Annual War Deaths in Small-Scale versus State Societies Scale with Population Size Rather than Violence.” Current Anthropology 58(6):805-813. Or for a summary by Dean Falk, see Is the Clock Ticking Toward Doomsday? in Sapiens (January 2018).

23. What is social complexity in archaeology?

Chapter 13, “The Rise and Decline of Cities and States: Understanding Social Complexity in Prehistory” (345-361)

24. Did ancient civilizations collapse?

Chapter 13, “The Rise and Decline of Cities and States: Understanding Social Complexity in Prehistory” (362-369)

C. Intro to Anthro: Social Worlds

25. Is money everything?

Chapter 14, “Economics: Working, Sharing, and Buying” (371-380)

26. Why is capitalism different among countries?

Chapter 14, “Economics: Working, Sharing, and Buying” (381-393)

27. What is traditional ecological knowledge?

Chapter 15, “Sustainability: Environment and Foodways” (395-407)

28. Is agriculture sustainable?

Chapter 15, “Sustainability: Environment and Foodways” (408-419)

29. Does every society need a government?

Chapter 16, “Power: Politics and Social Control” (421-431)

30. Why do some societies seem more violent?

Chapter 16, “Power: Politics and Social Control” (432-445)

31. Why do people get married?

Chapter 17, “Kinship and Gender: Sex, Power, and Control of Men and Women” (449-459)

32. Are males and females different?

Chapter 17, “Kinship and Gender: Sex, Power, and Control of Men and Women” (460-475)

33. Why is religion difficult to define?

Chapter 18, “Religion: Ritual and Belief” (477-489)

34. Are rituals important?

Chapter 18, “Religion: Ritual and Belief” (490-501)

35. What is an artifact?

Chapter 19, “Materiality: Constructing Social Relationships and Meanings with Things” (503-516)

36. Why is archaeology contentious?

Chapter 19, “Materiality: Constructing Social Relationships and Meanings with Things” (517-528)





Additional Resources for “What is Intro to Anthro about?”

For an overview of Intro to Anthro, see the Introduction to Anthropology page. See also What is Anthropology, the Anthropology Blogs, and the 2017 Anthropology Conference, Anthropology Matters.

Although I do not use Welsch, Vivanco, and Fuentes, I do use another anthro textbook published by Oxford University Press: Anthropology: What Does it Mean to be Human? For a related anthro course outline see Anthropology 2018 – Lavenda & Schultz.


To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2018. “What is Intro to Anthro about? Anthropology via Welsch, Vivanco, Fuentes.” Living Anthropologically website, https://www.livinganthropologically.com/what-is-intro-to-anthro-about-2018/. First posted 7 Feburary 2018.


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