All syllabi are subject to change
Core year-long course for beginning graduate students in Anthropology (MA and Phd). Restricted to Anthropology students except with special permission from the Instructor.
ANTH 100 (2016-17, Term 2) – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Coordinated Arts Program Section – Law & Society Stream)
Socio-cultural anthropologists strive to understand the human condition and its diverse expressions around the world in contemporary and historically recent social contexts. Exploring both commonality and difference among communities, we participate in the wider endeavour of the discipline of anthropology: the holistic understanding of the human experience in terms of biological evolution, the historic development of societies (archaeology), and the global reach of linguistic and cultural diversity. Socio-cultural anthropologists employ the distinctive research strategies of ethnography and participant-observation (sometimes referred to as “deep hanging out”!) to work with all kinds of contemporary communities in diverse places, although historically the discipline has been best known for research conducted with Indigenous societies in specific locales. The sub-disciplines of legal and political anthropology offer deep insight into how regulatory structures are created, and how they shape human experience in local, national, regional and transnational contexts.
This course will introduce you to core concepts and questions in anthropology, and the methods that socio-cultural anthropologists employ to understand human action and expression. How do people understand and forge family relationships? How does money work? Why are some foods taboo? How do ritual action and religious belief shape lives? Why does gender matter? While providing a general overview of these and other topics, we will focus specifically on considering how contemporary legal and political frameworks mediated by the spread of global commercial and communication networks impact communities around the world, and in turn, what local engagement with global forces can teach us about the range of possible responses to the international crises of inequality, poverty and environmental change. As well as reading case studies, participating in ethnographic exercises, and engaging with materials in UBC’s famed Museum of Anthropology, students will have the opportunity to develop their own capstone research project.
This course introduces students to the cultural, social, political and religious lives of people in and from the region known as “South Asia”. Students will also learn about key debates in the anthropological study of the region, from classical concerns about caste and kinship to contemporary discussions of urbanization, development, health, conflict, and natural disasters. Throughout the course, we focus on the production of different kinds of “South Asian” identities, including regional, national, ethnic, linguistic, gendered and political forms of self-definition in both South Asian and diasporic locations. Lectures and readings cover a broad range of material from Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Students will have several opportunities to focus in-depth on their own regional and thematic interests by following specific issues and places in the media; choosing from readings that provide multiple geographical and analytical lens on each theme; and developing their own research topic throughout the semester, culminating in a final paper.
What is religion? How does it create meaning through symbol, myth, ritual, and faith? Why is it a powerful force in human society? This course considers these questions through a survey of the anthropological literature on religion and ritual. We discuss classical theoretical approaches to religion focusing on structure and symbol; contemporary approaches to faith and spiritual experience; debates over magic, witchcraft, shamanism and modernity; the dynamics of ritual as a social process; and the politics of gender and difference in our presumed era of secular modernity. During the course of the semester, we explore ethnographic material from a range of world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) and local traditions practiced in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Reading will be supplemented by films, ethnographic exercises, short essays, class presentations and regular discussion.
What is development? How can the micro and macro aspects of engineering “progress” be balanced to yield the best possible results? This course draws upon critical social science literatures, as well as writings by development practitioners, to address key questions of development theory and practice. It offers an overview of the rise of development thought, and an assessment of the outcomes of development for countries and communities across the world under different regimes, from authoritarian states to plural democracies in political transitions and into and out of communism and socialism.