ANTH 112 Introductory Anthropology

ANTH 112 Introductory Anthropology

Fall 2012   Cultural Anthropology

Nanaimo: 8:30 – 11:30 am Fridays         

Cowichan 10:30 am – 12 noon Mondays, Wednesdays   

Instructor:  Lynette Harper, Ph.D.


Anthropology can be divided into four subfields: physical/biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology. This course focuses on cultural anthropology—examining the nature of culture, the many social institutions that make us human, culture change, and anthropology in a globalizing world.

Instruction includes lectures, films, class discussions and cooperative activities.  Evaluation will be based on:

  • Participation  (5%)
  • Reflective notes (20%) due throughout term
  • Midterm quiz (20%)
  • Subsistence & Economics presentation (5%)
  • Kinship assignment (20%)
  • Final take-home essay exam  (30%)

Required text:  

Haviland, William A., Harald E.L. Prins, Dana Walrath, and Bunny McBride.  2011. Anthropology: The Human Challenge, Thirteenth Edition.  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.   (Note: Twelfth Edition may be used, though page numbers differ.)


Topics, quizzes & assignments due

Readings &

Assignments due

Week 1 Introductions, Anthropology & Four Fields, -Video: Everybody’s ethnic: Your invisible culture   GN 357 E94 2001 Read Chapter 1(read after class)
Week 2 The culture concept, Video: Sacred Geography (45 min.) Light at the edge of the world series GN 320 L54 2009 Chapter 14
Week 3 Ethnographic Research, Video: How cultures are studied, 30 min GN 316 F3 NO.03 Chapter 15
Week 4 Learning culture, Language and Communication, Video: First Voices Excerpts from Ch.16 & 17
Week 5 Sex, Marriage, Family – Video: Saheri’s Choice, 27 min. HQ 670 S33 1998 Cowichan Campus Library Chapter 20
Week 6 Social organization: Kinship – Gender, age, interest, class – Optional Video: Arab diaries, 30 min Chapter 21
Week 7 Midterm quiz – Video: Paris is Burning, 76 min. PN 1997 P37 1992 Chapter 22 (read after class)
Week 8 Social identity, Subsistence & Economics systems – Video: Potlatch, 22  min E 78 C2 F5.77 # 3 Presentations due – Excerpts from Ch. 18,19
Week 9 Processes of change – Video: N’ai: story of a !Kung woman, 58 min DT 1058 K86 N32 2004  Chapter 26
Week 10 Politics, power, and violence – Video: Raised to be heroes, 40 min. UB 345 I75 R35 2006 Kinship essay due Chapter 23
Week 11 Power / change, Global Challenges, Local Responses – Video: Hunters of the Northern Ice, 45 min. GN 320 L54 2009 Light at the edge of the world series Excerpts from Ch. 27
Week 12 Arts or Religion & Spirituality – Video: TBA Excerpts from Ch.24 or 25
Week 13 Class review & wrap-up, Final take-home distributed
Dec. 10

Final take-home essay exam due. Paper copies to 356-374, or drop box beside office 356-310. Exams may be emailed by advance arrangement.

Evaluation & assignments


Attendance: Students are expected to attend all scheduled classes. Please notify the instructor in advance if you need to miss a class, in advance if possible. In exceptional circumstances (e.g., verifiable ill-health) it will be possible to make up the Reflective Note mark by special arrangement.

Participation in class activities:  Do your reading BEFORE class begins. Come prepared to discuss the required readings. We all learn from exchanging ideas in the classroom, as well as from independent reading and analysis. You will complete a self-evaluation of your participation during class.


During most classes, you will be asked to handwrite a reflective comment based on a required reading, video, lecture or class discussion.  The instructor will assign topics for each Note, to be handed in at the end of class.

Notes should NOT be simply a summary of information. For a good mark, be reflective and explain your opinions.  If possible, incorporate anthropological ideas from class and your textbook.  Your notes provide an opportunity for us to communicate directly, providing me with a better sense of what you are gaining from the course.  I will always read your notes, and sometimes respond with written comments.

Please date and sign each Reflective Note with your first and last name.  Notes will usually be returned within a week.  Proper grammar and spelling are appreciated, though this will not affect your grade. You may hand in loose pages or a notebook. If you submit all 12 notes, you will automatically receive 12/20 marks.  The remaining 8 marks will be based on quality and effort.


You will be assigned a topic with 2-3 other students, and given time in class to prepare a brief (5 minute) summary of one mode of subsistence or economic system described in the textbook, including its implications for social organization. Marks will be earned by demonstrating good organization and accurate understanding, providing good explanations and examples, and using visual aids (eg. blackboard or flipchart paper).


The purpose of this assignment is to explore ideas of family and kinship, kin terminology, and kindred. It consists of three parts: A. Kinship diagram; B. Kindred diagram; C. Essay Further explanation and discussion of this assignment will take place during Week 6.

A.  Kinship Diagram

Although we all have family relations, kinship terms may differ dramatically from society to society: eg. the person you call “uncle” may be called “father” elsewhere/in another language.  Collect family data for three or four generations if possible, and use it to produce a kinship chart (more commonly referred to as a genealogy or family tree by non-anthropologists). You may not be able to acquire complete information about every person in your family; just get as much information as possible. Focus on collecting the following:

  • Økin terms commonly used in your home community, in whatever language(s) are used (eg. aunt, uncle, nana, oma, papus, yaya, tati, cousin, etc.)
  • Ølast names if possible, including women’s “maiden” names if known

Remember to note “ego”, and to use standard kinship notations used by anthropologists.

Once you have collected the information you should begin to organize your diagram. It is best to start in pencil, as you may find that it takes a while to organize the diagram in a clear and easy to “read” fashion. Place the oldest generation at the top of your diagram. Please use regular paper (letter or legal size); tape two sheets together if necessary.

Bring any diagramming problems you encounter to class, or see me privately and we’ll work on possible approaches together. If you would prefer an alternate assignment, please come and see me.

B.  Kindred Diagram

On a second sheet of paper, draw a similar chart using standard anthropological notations, but include only your kindred. Instead of kin terms, indicate first and/or last names, including women’s “maiden” names if known. If both charts are almost identical, you could start with a photocopy the kinship chart.

C. Essay (approximately 4 pages typed double-spaced)

Your essay will reflect on the process of researching your family history.  Possible topics are: what family means to you, how and why your kindred differs from your kinship diagram, an analysis of your family e.g. common patterns you see reflected in your diagram, and/or an analysis of difficulties encountered when researching your family. Use at least two anthropological themes or concepts from class ie. kindred, marriage patterns, enculturation, etc.  You may write about family stories or a biography of a person in your family, as long as you integrate anthropological concepts.  (Note: Essays longer than the specified length are welcome!)

Evaluation criteria 

  • meets all assignment requirements, including both diagram and essay;   
  • diagrams tidy and easy to read
  • well organized essay, presenting content clearly and effectively; 
  • well explained using research data (may include interviews, etc.)
  • demonstrates accurate understanding of course materials, and application of anthropological concepts from class & readings when appropriate
  • if possible, raises questions and/or describes cultural values and beliefs
  • essay is clear and easy to read (well organized, grammar and spelling do not detract from meaning), 

Anth 380 Introduction to Museum Anthropology

Anth 380  Introduction to Museum Anthropology

Most recently offered: May-June 2013  (previous Fall 2011) Instructor: Lynette Harper An introduction to contemporary issues in museum practice and their historical context.  Topics include historical debates and analytical frameworks; shifting purposes and roles of museums and anthropology; changing political contexts and issues; museums, communities, and First Nations; acquisition and interpretation of cultural property; and… Read more…

ANTH 390D Arab Women in the Middle East and Diaspora

ANTH 390D  Arab Women in the Middle East and Diaspora

Anthropological perspectives   (offered May 2014; tentatively scheduled May 2016) A veil of mystery and stereotyping obscures Arab women’s lives in the Middle East and the global Arab diaspora. This course investigates Arab women’s dilemmas and perspectives on identity, faith, politics and representation through readings and discussion based on ethnographies and cultural studies. Examine gender/power… Read more…

Anth 307 Culture and Education in Global Context

Anth 307 Culture and Education in Global Context

September 8 – December 1, 2010 Instructor:  Lynette Harper, Ph.D. Email:     A cross-cultural analysis of education addressing cultural, social, political, and economic dynamics in North America and abroad. Topics include ethnography in the classroom; critical analysis of multicultural, anti-racist, and indigenous forms of education; theories of cultural difference and production; and practical… Read more…