Biological anthropology studies the biological diversity of our species and the evolutionary history that has led us to our present condition. The course includes (1) examination of the genetics underlying evolution and the mechanisms by which change occurs; (2) variation and adaptation among living humans; (3) living primate populations as keys to understanding our evolutionary past; and (4) human evolution. This course is designed to expose students to the breadth of biological anthropology and to prepare them for upper-level classes in anthropology and related disciplines. Enrollment is limited to first-year students and sophomores. This foundation course is required for upper-level work in biological anthropology courses. Offered every semester.
Today, people increasingly live in highly industrialized and urban civilizations. But how long have humans had "civilization?" What is "civilization" and how can it be recognized? This course addresses these questions through looking at the basic elements of archaeology and its place in anthropology. Topics covered include the history of archaeology, fundamental aspects of fieldwork and analysis, and the prehistoric record from the first humans to the origins of civilization. This foundation course is required for upper-level work in archaeology courses. Offered every semester.
This course introduces students to the discipline that studies and compares cultures. Students learn about the main concepts used in anthropology and how anthropologists conduct research, while also discovering how people live in other times and places. They also learn about theories that provide frameworks for understanding and comparing cultures. Ethnographic descriptions of life in particular places give students factual materials with which to apply and critique such theories. Through this introduction to the study of culture in general, and an exposure to specific cultures, students inevitably come to re-examine some of the premises of their own culture. This foundation course is required for upper-level work in cultural anthropology courses. Offered every semester.
Our television "science" and "history" channels, as well as our bookstore shelves, are riddled with works claiming the discovery of lost Atlantis, attributing monuments to the lost tribe of Israel, explaining cultural developments as the result of contact with aliens, and loosely documenting routine sightings of Yetis, Bigfoots, Skinwalkers and Swamp Apes. Indeed, these have now become common entertainment themes in popular culture. But when entertainment themes pose as scientific knowledge, they can be dangerous because they provide false and misleading explanations of the world around us. We live in a country where some 40 percent of the population does not accept the theory of human evolution. Concurrently, the state of Ohio has seen a rise in Bigfoot sightings that makes us the fifth "squatchiest" state in the nation. This course examines how we know about the world around us and what passes for knowledge of a particular type. In the process, we explore scientific literacy, pseudoscientific belief, anthropology's response to such pseudoscience, and its effects on our culture. It does not count toward the anthropology major but will count toward the minor. Open to first-year and sophomore students only. Offered every other year.
This seminar examines the meaning and significance of connection to place through an intensive investigation of Knox County. We spend much of our time in the surrounding locale, exploring the landscape and interacting with individuals knowledgeable about community life. Complementing these field experiences, scholarship in the arts, humanities and sciences addresses how natural, economic, social and cultural conditions inform rural character and personal identity. We conclude our studies by creating a public project designed to share what we have learned. Taken together, these activities illustrate the distinctive perspective and power of a liberal education. This course does not count toward the anthropology major but will count toward the minor. Open to first-year and sophomore students only. Offered every other year.
In a world of rapidly changing technologies, consumers and their commodities are now central to economic growth in most parts of the world. Consumer spending remains resilient, accounting for the bulk of economic activity in the world’s largest economies. Where do the resources come from to sustain such growth, and for whom? What are the conditions that facilitated this current social, political and economic climate? This course is an anthropological approach to the study of consumption and the processes that entangle people and objects together on a global scale. Throughout the course, we examine how consumption practices shape the modern world by emphasizing their impact on individual behaviors, the environment, the economy and public policy. This class addresses a wide variety of processes involved in the creation, exchange and consumption of commodities in a global historical context. Special attention is paid to labor practices and social identities that are intricately tied to the way humans consume and the material objects they acquire. This course counts as an upper-level elective for the anthropology major. Prerequisite: ANTH 112, 113 or permission of the instructor. Offered every fall.
This course investigates the issues, methods and history of the discipline of ethnomusicology. It focuses on case studies drawn from different music genres and areas of the world that illustrate the complexities of considering music in its cultural contexts. Student work involves close listening, engagement with cultural theory and practical fieldwork exercises, culminating in an individual field research project on a topic related to the course. This course is the same as MUSC 206D. It must be taken as ANTH 206D to count toward the social science requirement. It counts toward the ethnomusicology requirement for the music major or elective for the minor and also as an upper-level elective for the anthropology major. Prerequisite: MUSC 102, 105 or 107 or ANTH 113. Offered every three out of four years.
For most people in most times and most places, religion has been central to defining who they are and how they are related to other humans and supernatural entities. Given the centrality of religion to such self-understanding, it is no surprise that anthropologists have long been interested in the topic and have adopted a variety of approaches to its study. These range from perspectives that stress the adaptive functions of belief systems to those that examine how concepts of the sacred may figure in political contests or shape behavior through the power of their symbols. We will review how these viewpoints and the varied definitions of religion they imply converge within and inform the study of indigenous resistance to colonialism. Belief systems and concepts of the sacred have been, and continue to be, at the core of many of these efforts to deny or ameliorate processes of imperial domination. By examining religion in action, we arrive at a vivid sense of how religion is used in power struggles, helps people adapt to changed circumstances, and preserves some local control over peoples' understandings of themselves and their relations to the world in which they live. This counts as an upper-level elective for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 113 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Never before in any period of history have so many people had access to so many mass-mediated images. Yet in spite of this proliferation, anthropology has been a recent newcomer to the study of mass media production, distribution and consumption as situated human activities. Uniquely suited to enter this discourse, an anthropological approach to mass media transcends the limitations of traditional media scholarship by paying closer attention to the broader social and political contexts in which they are embedded. This course endeavors to develop an anthropological understanding of contemporary forms of cultural communication and reception by analyzing the flow of media images across national borders. Particular emphasis is given to the local impact of media culture in different parts of the world. Students examine the role of mass media in forging national and ethnic identities, body images, sexuality, gender and experiences of war and violence. This counts as an upper-level elective for the major. ANTH 113 is strongly recommended. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
This course examines the ways in which Asians have been constituted in popular culture and have constituted themselves through popular culture. As such, it is divided into two halves: the former focuses on "Asians in Popular Culture" while the latter focuses on "Popular Culture in Asia." Thus, we juxtapose the racial representations of Asians and Asian Americans produced from the dominant mainstream with how Asian peoples have chosen to represent themselves to the rest of the world. We begin with the "model minority myth" and explore examples of anti-Asian sentiment, the ignominious legacy of Yellowface, the contrasting gendered depictions of Asian women vis-à-vis Asian men, and cross-racial intersections. Case studies in the second half of the semester include South Korean films, television dramas and popular music; Japanese manga and anime; Indonesian dangdut; and Asian American independent media projects. The primary objective is to challenge students to rethink the very notion of the popular and view popular culture not as something trivial but as a critical mode of production with racial, ethnic, political and economic ramifications. This counts as an upper-level elective for the major. ANTH 113 is recommended. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
Humans often take for granted the spaces and places that frame our everyday lives. In this course, we make the familiar strange by asking: Why do most Americans live in square spaces? What would it be like to live in a cave? Can houses be spiritual places? In order to address these and other questions, we explore how human habitats provide the very foundations of cultural practice and reproduction. This course takes a long-term perspective of humans and their habitats by starting our investigation in prehistory. We explore social landscapes, dwellings and environments across different cultures, times and places. Our survey includes contemporary habitats as well as ancient dwellings and a consideration of sacred structures such as shrines and temples. This course emphasizes the form and meaning of architecture and its role in cultural formation processes, and explores long-term changes in how humans relate to their habitats and dwellings. As the material manifestations of culture and the building blocks of societies, our dwellings recursively make us human while shaping us into bearers of culture. This counts as an upper-level elective for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every fall semester.
Why are some fears, such as those of snakes, heights and darkness, shared by individuals of all cultures? Why do different societies fear different things? Do hunter-gatherer groups have the same fears as capitalist societies? What do these fears reveal about culture? To address these questions, we investigate the concept of fear, from its biological foundations, to the meanings given to this emotion by different cultures around the world through concepts, theories and methods used in anthropology. In a biological sense, fear is the response that our bodies have to a perceived threat. However, humans, as social animals, give a multiplicity of meanings to fear, which shapes their social and cultural practices. In our current political climate, fear has become a rhetoric commonly used to justify decisions of aggression, such as the physical separation of “good Americans” from “bad hombres” by means of a 55-foot wall, the reclusion of the rich into exclusive neighborhoods to avoid the poor, and even the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Indeed, we are living in a constant state of fear of “the other.” Anthropologists make the familiar strange and the strange familiar by comparing human behavior cross-culturally and questioning common notions that people may consider “natural” but are, in fact, socially constructed. The class consists of lectures, media analyses, readings and discussions about fear from multiple cultures and their social implications in the contemporary world. This counts as an upper-level elective for the major. No prerequisite.
Latin American people are a driving force of the U.S. economy, and they are projected to become one of the largest populations in the country (50 million by 2050). Moreover, the tag “Latino,” widely used in the U.S. to designate individuals who trace their ancestry to countries colonized by Spanish-speaking countries, does a disservice to the rich history, culture and diversity within these populations. Anthropology, the study of culture and humanity, focuses on a variety of different directions to encompass the diversity of humanity. Anthropologists make the familiar strange and the strange familiar by comparing human behavior cross-culturally, questioning common notions that people think are “natural” (e.g., two genders, the concept of a nuclear family, superior or inferior races, proper table manners, etc.) but are in fact socially constructed. In this course, we read, review and discuss, through the lens of anthropology, the origins, transformations and diversity of Latin American culture. The course discusses the Latin culture’s cultural roots, from its pre-Hispanic past, and colonial transformation to its current diverse contemporary peoples. The course, however, represents only a small sample of this extremely diverse field, since no single-semester course can give comprehensive coverage of all the different types of studies pursued by anthropologists. Overall, this course helps develop an understanding of the complexity of Latin American culture, develops cultural awareness and curiosity concerning its diversity, and challenges ideologies of ethnocentrism, heterosexism, racism and sexism. This counts toward the upper-level elective for the major or one of the two core courses that students are required to complete for the Latinx Concentration. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
This course is an archaeological exploration of the major concepts, themes and research questions that are at the foundation of African diaspora studies. In this class, students engage with the very concept of "African diaspora" in conversation with the geopolitical and socioeconomic processes that shaped, and continue to influence the field. Through an engagement with archaeological and ethnographic case studies, we examine the everyday practices of peoples of African descent across numerous geographies, focusing on similarities and differences that emerge from our comparative approach. Students are introduced to a number of methodological and theoretical perspectives and examine topics such as slavery, emancipation, cultural production, gender, ethnicity, class and spirituality. This course appeals to students interested in archaeology, anthropology, history, African American studies and Caribbean studies. This counts toward the upper-level archaeology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 112 and permission of the instructor. Offered every spring.
Music is deeply embedded in many forms of individual and cultural identity. This seminar examines the relationship of music to notions of cultural and human rights. Using case studies from a variety of music cultures, we explore topics such as music censorship, music and warfare, music and disability, and music and AIDS awareness. Engaging with literature from ethnomusicology, anthropology and other social sciences, we explore the following questions: What roles do music and related forms of expressive culture play in notions of human rights? Who owns music? Who has the right to transform music? What are the artistic, political and economic reasons for these transformations? What are their implications? What constitutes a cultural-rights violation? What role, if any, should regulatory agencies have with regard to monitoring cultural rights? This course is the same as MUSC 310D. It must be taken as ANTH 310D to count toward the social science requirement. It counts as an elective for the music major and minor. It counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 113 or MUSC 102, 105 or 107 and permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
This seminar explores the relationship of music and film, with a focus on ethnographic film and ethnographic filmmaking. How does our understanding of music inform our experience of film? How, in turn, does our immersion in film and its conventions inform our understanding of different music? How are such conventions localized and expanded in different cultural settings? How does ethnographic film both react against and make use of other stylistic conventions of filmmaking in achieving its ends? Practical exercises in ethnographic filmmaking (and analysis) during the semester lead toward ethnographic, historical or analytical projects. This counts as an elective for the music major and minor. It counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. This course is the same as MUSC 312D. It must be taken as ANTH 312D to count toward the social science requirement. Prerequisite: MUSC 102, 105 or 107 or ANTH 113. Offered every other year.
This course investigates the central role food plays in human biology and culture. We explore food from an evolutionary perspective, examining nutritional variations in subsistence strategies ranging from foraging to industrial societies. Students come to understand that food is a cultural construction as we look at the symbolism and utilization of food from a cross-cultural perspective. Finally, utilizing a biocultural perspective, we combine our understanding of biology and culture to see the effects of social, political and economic issues on human nutrition. Nutritional anthropology uses a variety of methods, ranging from ethnographic techniques to methods in biological anthropology for assessing the effect of nutrition on human biology. Throughout the semester, students become familiar with nutritional anthropology's varied approaches. This counts toward the upper-level biological or cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111, 112 or 113 or permission of instructor. Offered every year.
Africa is a vast continent with an incredibly diverse set of peoples and cultures. This course demonstrates the complexity and depth of sub-Saharan Africa's past through the exploration of human skeletal and archaeological evidence. Most people are aware that Africa is the birthplace of our species, and we begin our journey by exploring human origins and technological innovations. Unfortunately, other cultural complexities such as emergence of food production, indigenous states and the development of long-distance trade are usually attributed only to Egyptian civilization. This course seeks to fill in the missing details of innovation and complexity for the rest of the continent by discussing the evidence for a vast array of societies in sub-Saharan Africa's past. This counts toward the upper-level biological anthropology or archaeology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or 112 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Although biological anthropology relies heavily on an evolutionary perspective, it is also concerned with understanding the interactions between human biology and culture. This biocultural perspective seeks to appreciate how humans adapt to their environment through a combination of biological, cultural and physiological adjustments. We explore how humans adapt to a wide variety of environmental factors, including high altitudes, climates, nutrition and disease. The emphasis is on understanding our biological and cultural responses to stress and the contexts in which these can be adaptive or maladaptive. This counts toward the upper-level biological or cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111, 112 or 113. Offered every other year.
This course focuses on the application of human skeletal and morphological data to various interpretive problems (descriptive, comparative and analytic) in biological anthropology. Topics include basic human skeletal and dental anatomy; determination of age, sex and stature; developmental and pathological anomalies; osteometric methods and techniques; various comparative statistical methods; and problems of ethics, excavation, restoration and preservation. The course also includes an examination of representative research studies that utilize the above data and methods. This counts toward the upper-level biological anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Within anthropology, the life history has long been recognized as an important vehicle for learning about how culture is experienced and created by individuals. This seminar seeks to develop a better understanding of the research method known as life history, and of its attendant beliefs and limitations in diverse social and cultural contexts. The course also addresses how people experience categories of difference such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, religion and geographic location along with their relevance to personal identity. Equally important, this is a learning-by-doing course, as it attempts to bridge theories of self-narrative with cultural anthropological research methods. Students experience firsthand the theoretical, methodological and ethical issues involved in collecting life histories. By undertaking individual projects, each student learns to organize and conduct life history interviews, record them, transcribe them, edit them and present them in written form. The goal is to explore the multiple stages involved in transforming a narrative life into an inscribed text. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. ANTH 113 is strongly recommended. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
Why should cultural anthropologists be interested in the study of family albums, travel photography and smartphone videos? How can we understand these pictorial forms as “stories” that are told across generations? Most important, how is “culture” connected to visual communication? This seminar addresses these questions by critically reviewing the anthropological relevance of written forms such as biography and autobiography and then comparing these models to the modern pictorial traditions of still photography, video, and digital media. The goal is to explore how ordinary people use their cameras to convey information about themselves to themselves and how these picture collections are constructed to preserve and remember human lives. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. No prerequisite, ANTH 113 is highly recommended.
The primary goal of this course is to separate the public perception and mythology of the "Indian" from the divergent experiences and everyday reality of Native Americans. A thematic approach is applied to this study and topics such as history, film, language, spirituality, commercialism, appropriation, subsistence and sovereignty are explored in some detail and from a variety of perspectives. Through a survey of various tribal groups, students analyze some of the major concepts, methods and theories used in anthropological studies of Native American cultures; assess the impact that stereotypes, biological and cultural interaction with non-Indians, and urbanization have had on Indian identity; and appreciate the richness and complexity of Native American life as it was and continues to be lived in diverse ways and in different places in North America. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every third year.
Central America is the home of some easily recognizable ethnic groups, such as the Mayas and Kunas, but there are other, less well-known peoples. After considering what ethnicity might or might not be, we learn about a number of groups: Mayas, Garifunas, suppressed Native American groups in El Salvador and Nicaragua, Black Creoles and immigrants from the Levant who are known as Arabes. Studying these groups helps us understand the hidden ethnic tensions sometimes cloaked by national assertions of mestizo identity. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 113 and permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Our culture tells us that sexuality is about the “birds and the bees,” calling forth notions of “natural” and reproductive behavior. Yet, anthropology teaches us that the natural is inevitably the cultural (since it is our nature to be cultured). The past 25 years of anthropological research into sexuality calls into question whether our sexuality is truly “reproductive” at core, suggesting that while humans possess a sex drive, how we deploy that drive is fully a cultural matter. In the words of Clifford Geertz, “Sex is a cultural activity sustaining a biological process.” This course surveys primate and human evolution and sexuality, life course and sexuality, sexual orientation and identity, sex and power, sexually transmitted disease as medical and social problems, and the relation between gender and sexuality. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
Archaeologists often grapple with how their interpretations affect contemporary communities, some of whom are descended from the ancient populations whose material remains we excavate. In recent years, archaeologists have started to reframe their practice as a means by which to benefit living people, including descendant and local non-descendant groups. How and why should archaeologists interact with local people or descendant communities? Can archaeology contribute to social justice and social change? How can archaeologists effectively communicate with students and the public? This class addresses these and other questions through an examination of recent efforts by archaeologists around the world to decolonize the discipline and involve stakeholders in archaeological research. Students put these ideas into practice by designing and implementing archaeology education activities at Science and Play Intersect, a science education nonprofit in Mount Vernon, Ohio. This counts toward the upper-level archaeology or cultural anthropology requirement. Prerequisite: ANTH 112 or permission of instructor. Offered every fall semester.
When one contemplates indigenous South American cultures, the image that comes to mind is of massive stone constructions raised within the Inca Empire. But what are the roots of this great civilization? How did the Inca Empire develop from the bands of nomadic hunters and gatherers who were living in South America at least 13,000 years ago? The Incas are not the end of the story of native South American cultures, however. Thrust into history by the Spanish and Portuguese conquests in the 16th century, indigenous peoples throughout South America were forced to adapt to destructive diseases along with new social, economic and religious practices. Even today, indigenous groups are adjusting to conditions not of their making: globalization, neoliberal reforms and environmental degradation, among others. Any student interested in anthropology, archaeology, history or Latin America benefits from becoming acquainted with the material we cover. This counts toward the upper-level archaeology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 112 or 113 or other courses on Latin American history, culture or society. Offered occasionally.
Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the influences of both biology and culture on the human experience of disease. This course introduces students to the anthropological study of disease ecology and medical systems in other cultures. We explore the role of disease in humans from an evolutionary perspective, noting the influence that culture, ecology, economy, history and politics have had in the past as well as the present. In addition, we look at the efficacy and nature of both non-Western and Western ethnomedical systems and the cultural and psychodynamic features of illness. Throughout this course, we examine the application of a medical anthropological perspective in developing sensitivity for cultural and biological variation within the United States and abroad. This counts toward the upper-level biological or cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or 113 or permission of instructor. Offered occasionally.
What makes a good leader? Do the powerful manipulate ritual? How did social inequality start? This course addresses these and other questions through an examination of ancient civilizations in Mesoamerica. Mesoamerica refers to a geographical area — spanning present-day southern Mexico and northern Central America — occupied by a variety of ancient cultures that shared religions, art, architecture and technology. We analyze the rise of complex society in this diverse and vibrant region, from the domestication of corn and other agricultural staples to the seeds of social inequality and the rise of powerful leaders. In particular, we focus on how ideology and ritual both sanctioned and fostered political and ritual economies throughout Mesoamerica. Drawing on examples from the Olmec, Zapotec, Maya and Aztec cultural groups, we analyze the relationship between ideology and power and how it affected the lived experience of Mesoamerican peoples. We consider topics such as social and political organization, economy, trade, gender and everyday life. The final days of the course examine contemporary Indigenous issues in the region, linking archaeology and heritage to language revitalization, land-rights struggles and political autonomy. More than just a cultural overview of a geographic region, students come away with the ability to critically evaluate ideological strategies and a distinct appreciation for the material heritage of Mesoamerican descendant communities. This counts toward the upper-level archaeology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 112 or permission of instructor. Offered every other spring semester.
This course is designed to look at the archaeology of colonialism in two ways. We analyze colonialism as a concept and as a discursive practice that has concrete effects for our archaeological work. The goal is to understand how colonial processes contribute to the production of academic knowledge, historical archive and archaeological facts. We take a critical look at how the legacy of colonialism continues to structure our relationship with descendant communities and other stakeholder groups we encounter during our archaeological fieldwork.
In the second part of the course, we try to understand colonialism as a phenomenon that can be explored through material and other (textual, oral historical) remains in archaeological contexts. We review case studies of colonial encounters in the Middle East, Europe (the Mediterranean), Africa, Oceania and North America. The goal is to understand the processes and contexts of colonialism and its effects on past societies by imparting a thorough understanding of how colonial practices can vary across time and space; considering how archaeology can highlight such variation; and facilitating a deeper understanding of how the materiality of past colonial relations bears on present-day inequalities. This counts toward the upper-level archaeology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111, 112, 113 or permission of the instructor.
Neanderthals: Dull, dim-witted, hairy, beetle-browed, stooped, savage, primitive and dragging a woman by the hair. These are among the images elicited from students in introductory anthropology classes when asked to describe our closest relative on the human family tree. Is this image accurate? Did Neanderthals really have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time? This course examines in detail the archaeological and paleontological evidence that informs us about Neanderthal behaviors and capabilities as well as the intellectual climate in which this information is interpreted. Topics covered include the popular images of Neanderthals through time, functional morphology of the skeleton, dietary reconstruction, settlement patterns and site use. This counts toward the upper-level biological anthropology or archaeology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or 112 and permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
In this course, we look first at how the concepts of "race" and "ethnicity" have been defined within anthropology, particularly American anthropology. Does "race" exist? If so, how is it constituted and in what ways does it shape our collective reality? We focus on the central role of whiteness in creating the concept of race and racial hierarchies in our nation’s past and present. Issues covered in the course include, but are not limited to the malleability of racial categories; the political and economic significance of race, and of whiteness in particular; the various ways that racial inequality are reproduced through daily interactions that, on the surface, seem unrelated to race; the conflicting meanings and persistent challenges of "diversity"; the manner in which notions of biology are culturally construed to sustain concepts of race within the United States today; and the many ways in which it can be argued that the past is never over but lives on and shapes the present. The course depends heavily on discussion. In our conversations, we seek to analyze race and whiteness in ways that may well be unfamiliar and probably unsettling for most of us. The central point is that life in the United States today makes little sense without considerations of whiteness and race. Further, the significance of those two concepts in ordering our reality becomes clear only when contextualized within enduring cultural, historical and political processes that have deep roots in this country. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 113 and junior standing or permission of the instructor. Offered occasionally.
This course provides hands-on experience with some research methods that cultural anthropologists use. Participant observation, interviews and note-taking are standard methods, and we consider how to organize and access qualitative data through electronic database management. We pay some attention to quantitative methods as well, including statistical inference based on methods such as unobtrusive observation or survey questionnaires. The difficulties of designing a good questionnaire and of becoming a perceptive interviewer or observer are best learned through practice. Students are required to carry out a research project, from literature search and project design to writing and possibly publishing the results. Only by actually attempting primary research ourselves do we realize just how difficult it is to make statements about human ideas and behaviors that stand up to scientific scrutiny. It is only through such research, however, that we can contribute to knowledge. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 113 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Beginning with the Age of Discovery, developing through the periods of conquest and colonization, and continuing into the present, anthropology has embodied as well as defined the Western world's experience with "other" peoples and cultures. Within this broad historical context, this course investigates the emergence and definition of anthropology as a discipline by focusing on significant theoretical issues and "schools" of thought (e.g., evolutionism, functionalism, materialism and structuralism); biographical and intellectual portraits of several major figures who were instrumental in formulating these issues; and continuing controversies in the elucidation of certain fundamental principles (e.g., "culture," "relativism" and "the primitive"). This capstone course is required for the major and is in addition to the six required upper-level courses for the major. Prerequisite: senior standing. Offered every year.
So few Americans (and so few academics) have actually read the works of Marx. Generally speaking, if you say Marx, you elicit the response of "communism." To the general population, communism means totalitarian government and the specter of the loss of personal freedoms. To many academics, it means the denial of free will and of ideological freedoms. As a result, the work of Marx is equated with evil intention, is ignored or is tossed off as a brand of defunct functionalism. It is as if anti-Marxism has become a part of our habitus. There are two bodies of work by the 19th-century social thinker Karl Marx. Many of us have come to unreflectively equate all of his work with the most broadly known one — that part which follows in the tradition of unilineal thinkers of his time and the notion of a series of unfolding social forms along a regular and predictable pathway. Like other unilineal evolutionary imaginaries, that work (most evident in Marx and Engels' "The Communist Manifesto") has been largely uninteresting to 20th and 21st century anthropologists. And, in our fear of the varieties of communism that we have witnessed, we assume that they are all true to Marx's vision of history, a questionable notion to be sure. His other body of work (and the subject of this seminar) is that of a social historian who suggested that we can understand human history as a product of social relations made real in modes of production and exchange. This course examines the renewed significance and continuing relevance of that theoretical work for anthropology in the 21st century. We, of course, read Marx but then follow with works by Eric Wolf, William Roseberry, Sidney Mintz, David Harvey and Michael Taussig as we explore how Marxian anthropology looks at the relationship between history and sociocultural continuity and change. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Permission of instructor required. Offered occasionally.
Commensality (cooperative, collective consumption of food) is one of the hallmarks of human culture. Of course, what constitutes food, who gets together to share it, and the systematic connections between commensality and economic, social and political organization are all widely variable across cultures. This class examines alcohol consumption not as a social "problem" or "addictive behavior," but as a commensal behavior that is culturally meaningful. Taking a cross-cultural perspective, we look at how the symbolic values and social structure of alcohol and its consumption reflect (and sometimes create) the larger sociocultural milieu of which it is a part. How is drinking related to the construction of gender? How is it used to subordinate some people and elevate others in the political systems? What is its relationship to spiritual life? What role does alcohol consumption play in culture change? In short, what do people "get" from drinking besides "drunk"? The literature covers anthropological research in Africa, Polynesia, Micronesia, the Americas and Europe. This counts toward the upper-level cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 113 and permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
Questions of identity, ethnicity and social boundaries are fundamental to anthropological archaeology, yet they are among the most difficult to address using archaeological data. In this course, we use new theoretical and methodological approaches to examine how groups define themselves, how group identities are formed and how we can recognize them in the archaeological record. The course begins with a consideration of the terms "identity," "ethnicity" and "ethnic group," after which we examine case studies of particular groups, looking at questions of identity formation and maintenance and their archaeological correlates. Although we draw most of the case studies from the pre-Columbian Americas (North, Central and South), we also examine identity formation in the Old World. This course should be of particular interest to majors in anthropology (especially those with a concentration in archaeology), sociology and international studies (Latin American Concentration). This counts toward the upper-level archaeology or cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 112. Offered occasionally.
The department reserves individual study for those students who are unusually motivated in an area of the field and who we believe are responsible enough to handle the challenge of working independently. Such courses might be research-oriented (e.g., students returning from off-campus study programs with data) but are more commonly reading-oriented courses allowing students to explore in greater depth topics that interest them or that overlap with their major course of study. To arrange for individual study, a student should consult with a faculty member during the semester before the independent work is to be undertaken. The individual-study course may be designed exclusively by the faculty member or it may be designed in consultation with the student. For reading courses, a bibliography is created and the student reads those works, meeting periodically (weekly or bi-weekly) with the faculty member to discuss them. Faculty directing the individual study will set the terms of course evaluation, which typically involve either a research paper or an extensive annotated bibliography with a short explanatory essay tying the entries together and situating the debates that they represent. Another option is for the student to write one- to two-page assessments of each book or reading at intervals throughout the semester. The faculty member comments on these assessments and may request periodic reassessments. The course culminates with a synthetic paper that pulls together all the readings. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek the departmental approval before the established deadline. This course can count toward the major or minor.
This course provides students with the opportunity to conduct significant independent research on a topic of their choice. Typically, a student proposes a research focus in consultation with a member of the faculty who agrees to serve as the project advisor. Late in the student's junior year or early in the senior year, a brief description of the honors project is submitted to the department. This synopsis outlines the central question being addressed, what methods will be used in conducting the study and how the thesis will be organized. All anthropology faculty not on leave at the time of the proposal's submission review the document and decide whether it will be approved or declined based on the proposal's intellectual merit and feasibility as well as the student's past classroom performance, demonstrated motivation in pursuit of excellence, and organizational skills. After the project is approved, the student builds an honors committee consisting of the advisor and one other faculty member, who need not be an anthropologist. The student's senior year is spent conducting the research and writing the honors thesis, although both processes may well have begun in previous years. The thesis is read by the two members of the honors committee as well as a third person, who is an expert in the field addressed by the thesis but is not a part of the Kenyon faculty. An oral thesis defense, involving the student and the three readers, takes place near the end of the spring semester. The readers then determine whether to award no honors, Honors, High Honors or Highest Honors to the thesis based on the written document and the student's defense of the work. A cumulative GPA of 3.33 and major GPA of 3.5 are required. Permission of instructor and department chair required.
This course provides students with the opportunity to conduct significant independent research on a topic of their choice. Typically, a student proposes a research focus in consultation with a member of the faculty who agrees to serve as the project advisor. Late in the student's junior year or early in the senior year, a brief description of the honors project is submitted to the department. This synopsis outlines the central question being addressed, what methods will be used in conducting the study and how the thesis will be organized. All anthropology faculty not on leave at the time of the proposal's submission review the document and decide whether it will be approved or declined based on the proposal's intellectual merit and feasibility as well as the student's past classroom performance, demonstrated motivation in pursuit of excellence and organizational skills. After the project is approved, the student builds an honors committee consisting of the advisor and one other faculty member, who need not be an anthropologist. The student's senior year is spent conducting the research and writing the honors thesis, although both processes may well have begun in previous years. The thesis is read by the two members of the honors committee as well as a third person, who is an expert in the field addressed by the thesis but is not a part of the Kenyon faculty. An oral thesis defense, involving the student and the three readers, takes place near the end of the spring semester. The readers then determine whether to award no honors, Honors, High Honors or Highest Honors to the thesis based on the written document and the student's defense of the work. A cumulative GPA of 3.33 and major GPA of 3.5 are required. Permission of instructor and department chair required.