ANTH 200/600 – Core Perspectives in Anthropology (3 credits)
2:10-3:25 (Fall 2010)
Dr. Jon W.
Office Hours: Wed 1-3 (10 Marist)
ANTH 200 is an introduction to core perspectives in Anthropology, how they guide research to specific data and frame questions. Further steps – research design and conduct – are the subject of ANTH 201, taught in the Spring semester. ANTH 200 is concerned with the movement from identifying what is interesting/necessary to know to specifying relevant data and all the steps in between. It is not a survey of anthropological theories but a look at perspectives that anthropology has adopted and so define the field as a discipline, and not just as a topic.
Readings will include 4 books: one is a textbook (written for students as surveys and guides), one a theoretical critique, and two exemplary texts:
Stanley R. Barrett, Anthropology: A Student’s Guide to Method and Theory (1996)
E.E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer (1940)
Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977)
Biao Xiang, Global Body-Shopping: An Indian Labor System in the Information Technology Industry (2006)
In addition, we will read, discuss, and write papers about a group of articles, which are available on an electronic BlackBoard for this course. These are what scholars write for each other – in other words, primary material that you need to become familiar with and able to read anthropologically.
Recommended for Majors: Thomas Barfield, ed. The
Dictionary of Anthropology (1997)
We will read, discuss, and write papers about a group of articles, which are available on an electronic BlackBoard for this course. These are what scholars write for each other – in other words, primary material that you need to become familiar with and able to read anthropologically. Grouped roughly in the topics of the course, these include:
Wholism is the methodology on which modern ethnography rests, distinguishing it from survey methods by specifying the priority of local context over analytical categories, or cross-cultural classifications. The perspective developed with and emerged from historical methods that emphasized seeing events and motives of actors in their own time, the ethnographic version in anthropology being to see cultures in their own place(s). Relates to issues of objectivity, and the objective status of native-actor subjectivities at the outset of modern social sciences.
F. Boas – Limitations of the Comparative Method in Anthropology
C. Geertz – Thick Description
P. Winch – The Idea of a Social Science
J. Anderson – Rhetorical Objectivity
M. Weber – Objectivity in the Social Sciences
Structural-Functionalism is the perspective that focused ethnography on community studies. Its principle objective was the identification of local institutions and their specification as systems, or structures of relations. Minimally, specifies culture as rules or values, maximally as re-presentations in symbolic or discursive terms of structures of social relations. The classic text is Evans-Pritchard’s The Nuer (1940).
E.E. Evans Pritchard – The Problem of Symbols
Karp & Maynard – Reading the Nuer
E. Leach – Concerning Trobriand Clans
P. Bourdieu – The Kabyle House
M. Sahlins – Anthropology and Two Marxisms
Practice perspectives highlighting agency & meaning bring negotiation and strategies to the fore by emphasizing actors’ choices, decision-making, scheming, and self-conscious reflection on ostensive values/rules. Minimally, specifies culture as a sort of resource; maximally as ‘hegemonic’ perspectives. Actor subjectivities become objects, both for actors (occasionally) and for analysts (all the time). By comparison to the harmonies that structural-functionalism tended best to identify, this perspective focuses on quandaries and struggles, and on interaction both between actors and between actors and their cultures. For anthropologists, the point of departure is Bourdieu’s Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977), particularly chapter 1.
J.C. Scott – Domination, Acting & Fantasy
W. Keane – Self-Interpretation, Agency & the Objects of Anthropology
C. Schilling – Undersocialised Concept of Agency
R.W.K. Lau – Habitus & the Logic of Practice
Globalization, or Network Society, is a perspective that all local systems of action and value are immediately embedded in more global ones, which have variously ‘silent’ impacts on them. Seeks an anthropology that can identify and relate various systemic effects of differing scale and subjective register for actors. With a strong focus on power and multiple levels of ‘interaction’ comes a shift to network perspectives on social action that emphasize whom one relates to over the attempt in structural functionalism (and in many agency theories) to match social action to some internal (or, in social terms, shared) value structures. The anthropological point of departure is Appadurai’s essay (below) on “Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy” (1992); but articles by Drummond and Marcus earlier opened the issue of thinking of ‘communities’ as openended and continuous.
A. Appadurai – Global Cultural Economy
L. Drummond – The Cultural Continuum
G. Marcus – Contemporary Problems of Ethnography
J. Webb – Organizations, Self-Identities, and the New Economy
S. Sassen – New Geographies of Power
Schedule of Readings & Assignments (Fall 2009 available on the Blackboard for this course)
Grades will be based on three papers (20% each), and 8 set of notes on the readings (5% each). There are no exams or major term papers for this course.