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You are here: Home Anthropology PEOPLE Full-Time Faculty Shannon, Jonathan Course Descriptions and Syllabi ANTH 701: Ethnology Core Course, Fall 2011

ANTH 701: Ethnology Core Course, Fall 2011

Course Description and preliminary syllabus for ANTH 701: Ethnology.


Hunter College
Department of Anthropology
Fall 2011
Prof. Jonathan H. Shannon

Office:  713 North Building    Office hours: Mon. 3:30-5:00, or by appointment.
Tel.: 212 772-5452    E-mail:

This course is an introduction to ethnology (cultural anthropology) at the MA level; a course grade of “B” or better satisfies the ethnology (cultural anthropology) subfield comprehensive exam requirement for the MA degree in Anthropology.

Course objectives

The course has three main objectives: (1) to provide an overview of key theoretical and topical issues in cultural anthropology; (2) to promote critical, informed readings of anthropological debates, past and present; and (3) to promote critical analysis in writing of contemporary cultural phenomena.  We will focus on a variety of case studies both classical and contemporary with the aim both of defining how anthropologists have constructed their theoretical and methodological toolkit, and assessing how anthropological tools might be used in the analysis of global problems today.
For the Fall 2011 semester the case studies will be:

The development of classical ethnography
Performance, the body, and the senses
Gender, narrative, and life history
Food and culture
Globalization and culture


Some readings are book chapters and articles which will be available on the Blackboard site for this course (more information below).  Shakespeare & Co. (69th St. & Lexington Ave.) has ordered the following course books:

Evans-Pritchard, E.E.  1940.  The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People.  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Hahn, Tomie. 2007. Sensational Knowledge. Wesleyan University Press.

Jacobson, David. 1991.  Reading Ethnography. Albany: SUNY Press.

Stoller, Paul. The Taste of Ethnographic Things.

Taussig, Michael. My Personal Cocaine Museum.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt.  2005.  Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Neighborhood bookstores generate local jobs, are pleasant places to browse, and may feature distinctive services (discounts, knowledgeable personnel, alternative magazines and books from small publishers, used books, readings by local authors).  On-line booksellers may offer other advantages (shopping ease, greater selection, convenience); on-line book prices (and shipping charges) vary widely.  If you order your books for this course (or other books) via the Internet, you may do so at Shakespeare’s site or you may consult the following sites, which will do an automatic comparison of prices at dozens of online stores: or .  If you order books through Amazon, please consider going to its site through the CUNY Graduate Center’s virtual bookshop  Amazon purchases via this portal generate funds that support the CUNY library system.

Requirements for the course include:

Active, informed and consistent participation in class discussions.  Class participation will be judged by level of preparation, critical engagement in class, and generosity to other students (20% of final grade; in other words, to pass the course with a “B” you must participate in class discussions).

Five double-spaced, 2-3 page critical essays on the assigned ethnographies.  These must be submitted prior to the day when the ethnography is discussed (25% of final grade).  The approach you take in these essays is up to you, but they must examine issues raised in the texts under discussion.  Please proofread your work carefully before submitting it.  Papers with significant spelling or grammatical errors, or which in other ways do not meet professional standards, will receive much lower grades.  Late submissions will not be accepted under any but the most unusual circumstances.

In-class mid-term and final examinations (15% and 20%, respectively).

A critical reading journal (to be evaluated at midterm and end of term)

This syllabus may be modified during the semester.  All assigned readings must be completed before the class for which they are assigned.  Some weeks have lighter reading lists than others.  Students should therefore always read ahead in order to complete the longer assignments on time. 


This course will make use of Blackboard (BB).  Registered students may access the BB site from any computer with an Internet connection.  Information about how to register for the CUNY portal and BB is at  Once you have done this, you may log on to BB at

The syllabus is available on the BB site under “Course Information.”  I encourage students to participate in a “Discussion Board” (under “Communications”) where they may submit questions or comments about the readings, lectures and class discussions and respond to questions and comments from other students.  It is recommended (but not required) that all students participate in the BB discussion boards each week.
Blackboard allows the instructor to email individual students or the entire group, but it only uses Hunter email addresses that students receive automatically when enrolling at the College.  It is important that you activate your Hunter email address and check it frequently or that you set it to forward messages to an account that you check frequently.  PLEASE NOTE THAT THE INSTRUCTOR CANNOT RESOLVE TECHNICAL PROBLEMS WITH BB.  FOR PROBLEMS WITH BB, CONTACT INSTRUCTIONAL COMPUTING AT 212 772-4946 OR 212 650-3275 OR EMAIL


The Hunter College Senate requires that the following statement be included on all syllabi:

“Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.”
COURSE SCHEDULE (subject to modification)

I.  Monday, August 29: Welcome and course introduction

Monday, September 5: LABOR DAY, NO CLASS

II. Monday, September 12: Ethnography and/as Culture I

Behar, Ruth. The Vulnerable Observer. Selections
Clifford, James.  1986. “Introduction: Partial Truths.”  In Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, James Clifford and George E. Marcus, eds., pp. 1-26.  Berkeley: University of California Press.
Geertz, Clifford. “Thick Description.”
----------.  “Deep Play.”
Jacobson, David. 1991.  Reading Ethnography. Albany: SUNY Press. (selections)
MacClancy, Jeremy. “Taking People Seriously.” In Exotic No More. Anthropology at the Front Lines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

III. Monday, September 19: Ethnography and/as Culture II

Abu-Lughod, Lila. Writing Culture. Introduction
Hobsbawm, Eric.  1983.  “Introduction: Inventing Traditions.” In The Invention of Tradition, Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., pp. 1-14.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jacobson, David. 1991.  Reading Ethnography. Albany: SUNY Press. (selections, continued)
Williams, Raymond.  1976.  “Culture.”  In Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, pp. 87-93.  New York: Oxford University Press.

IV. Monday, September 26: Revisiting “Classic” Ethnography: The Nuer

Evans-Pritchard, E.E.  1940.  The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 1-15, 94-191.
Coote, Jeremy. “'Marvels of Everyday Vision': The Anthropology of Aesthetics and the. Cattle-Keeping Nilotes.” In The Anthropology of Art, A Reader. ed Howard Morphy and Morgan Perkins. (pdf).
Essays on British social anthro and E-P (to be determined)

V. Monday, October 3: The Body in/and Anthropology

Csordas, Thomas. “Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology,” and “Somatic Modes of Attention.” ( and ( (BB)
Halliburton, Murphy. AA article (BB)
Howes, David.  Empire of the Senses. Selections.
Porcello et al, ‘The Reorganization of the Sensory World.” Annual Rev. Anthro. (BB)
Stoller, Paul. The Taste of Ethnographic Things. Selections.

Monday, October 10: Columbus Day, NO CLASS

VI.  Monday, October 17: The Body in/and Performance

Hahn, Tomie. Sensational Knowledge. (Guest lecture?)


VIII.  Monday, October 31: Gender and Life Stories
Behar The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village: Santa María del Monte (1986) or Woman Translated (2003)
Essay on social history, ethnography, etc.
Crapanzano “On the life history” (“Kevin” and Tuhami)
Narayan, Kirin. Essay?

IX.  Monday, November 7: Food, Culture, and Power I

Mintz and DuBoise. “The Anthropology of Food and Eating.” ARA
Levi-Strauss, Claude. “The Culinary Triangle.”
Harris, Marvin. Essays (to be determined)
Sahlins, Marshall.  “La Pensée Bourgeoise.” In Culture and Practical Reason.
Allison, Anne. “The Obento Box as Apparatus of State Power.”
Food articles (to be determined)

Monday, November 14: Food, Culture, and Power II
Mintz, Sydney. Sweetness and Power.

Monday, November 21: Methods and Concepts of a Global Ethnography I

Appadurai, Arjun.  Modernity at Large and essays
Marcus, George.  1995.  “Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography.”  Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 95-117.
Harvey, David. selections (to be determined)

Monday, November 28: Methods and Concepts of a Global Ethnography II

Taussig, Michael. My Personal Cocaine Museum.

XIII. Monday, December 5: Environment and Crisis
Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt.  2005.  Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Essays (to be determined)

XIV. Monday, December 12: Last Class: Wrap Up the Semester

Journals due

Reading Journal Assignment

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