The student acquires knowledge of questions central to anthropological inquiry and how, over time, anthropology has addressed those questions.
- By examining the ways in which these central questions have been addressed over time, the student gains insight into changes in anthropology’s self-conception.
- Through understanding changes in the ways that anthropologists conceive of their discipline, the student will also engage with debates about the nature, practice, and ethics of the ethnographic method.
The course is structured around five fundamental questions that have shaped anthropological inquiry and the development of the discipline:
With these questions to guide us, we will explore the evolution of anthropological thought about its main subject matter, namely, society and culture, and the methods that should be used to understand what they are and how they work. For each question, we will examine how society, culture, and their organization and function emerged as problems for anthropology, and the methods and theories that anthropologists have employed to explain them. We will use a variety of readings, from classical anthropological texts to more recent ones, to chart a history of anthropological thought that pays particular attention to ethnographic method and questions of ethics in fieldwork. Readings assignments will be available on Blackboard.
- What is society?
- What is culture?
- How are societies organized?
- What holds societies together?
- What makes societies run?