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Course Description

The course explores how anthropologists study and compare human cultures. Cultural anthropologists seek to understand the broad arc of human experience focusing on a set of central issues: how people around the world make their living (subsistence patterns); how they organize themselves socially, politically and economically; how they communicate; how they relate to each other through family and kinship ties; what they believe about the world (belief systems); how they express themselves creatively (expressive culture); how they make distinction among themselves such as through applying gender, racial and ethnic labels; how they have shaped and been shaped by social inequalities such as colonialism; and how they navigate culture change and processes of globalization that affect us all. Ethnographic case studies highlight these similarities and differences, and introduce students to how anthropologists do their work, employ professional anthropological research ethics and apply their perspectives and skills to understand humans around the globe. Students will write a research paper based on original fieldwork in a local community. ADVISORY: Eligible for English 250 and English 260.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define the scope of anthropology and discuss the role of cultural anthropology within the discipline.
  • Recognize the methods, theories and perspectives used to study and understand human cultures.
  • Describe and analyze issues of power and inequality in a range of nonwestern and western cultures.
  • Identify and analyze the importance and limitations of cultural relativism. Identify and analyze the concept of ethnocentrism.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of anthropological concepts including ethnicity, gender, political organization, economic systems, kinship, rituals and belief systems.
  • Explain and analyze cultural practices as they are embedded within broad systems shaped by race, class, and gender.
  • Analyze and evaluate the ethical issues anthropologists encounter, and professional ethical obligations that must be met in the study of and application in cultural groups different from their own.
  • Explain the importance of the ethnographic method in the study of culture.
  • Design, conduct, and write an ethnographic research paper based on original field data.

Last modified: November 25, 2014
Gavilan College Red Diamond 5055 Santa Teresa Boulevard Red Diamond Gilroy, CA 95020 Red Diamond (408) 848-4800