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Kohn ANTH 202 1

Anthropology 202
Socio-Cultural Anthropology

Fall 2018
Professor Eduardo Kohn
T/Th 2:35-3:55
Professor’s Office Hours: TBA

Course Description
What does it mean to be human? Socio-cultural anthropologists offer a distinctive approach
to this question. We have developed a variety of techniques for immersing ourselves in the
messiness and strangeness of lived reality in ways that force us to suspend our taken for
granted assumptions about the worlds we encounter and those who live there. Our hope is
that through this process we might learn to listen for another –unexpected– kind of wisdom.
Anthropology, as a field is unique. Simultaneously a science and a humanity, it is a pursuit
that is at once on the ground and gritty, reflective and philosophical, and, always, through
and through, deeply personal. This course is intended as a general introduction to
anthropological ways of understanding the world and our place in it. But it is also an
introduction to an anthropological way of being in the world –a way of being that might
teach us to better attend to others in ways that, in the process, might also allow us to better
make sense of ourselves and the worlds we fashion with one another.

General Information
McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the
meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code
of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/ for
more information).

If you have a disability please contact the instructor to arrange a time to discuss the situation. It
would be helpful if you contact the Office for Students with Disabilities at 398-6009 (online at
www.mcgill.ca/osd) before you do this.

In accord with McGill University’s Charter of Students’ Rights, students in this course have the right to
submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded.

Course Goals and Objectives
Students will receive a broad and general introduction to the vibrant field of socio-cultural
Anthropology, through critical engagement with select readings, lectures, class discussions, and
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writing assignments. By the end of this course students should improve their analytical and
expressive skills and they should also deepen their understanding of the field of Anthropology.

Instructional Method
Lecture and discussion.

Course Materials
-A required course pack is available from the McGill University Bookstore (3544 Ave du Parc).
(Please note that course packs from previous years are acceptable).
-Additional (optional, and occasionally required) readings may be posted on Web CT.
-The following required book is available from Paragraphe Bookstore (2220 McGill College Ave):
-Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, by Paul Rabinow

Assignments and Evaluation
Your course grade will be based on two short essays and one final exam as described below:

Assignment #1
Science Fiction Treatment (15% of grade): Due Tuesday, September 25th
You will conceive of and write a treatment for a Science Fiction television series or
movie. Instructions will be given in class. A handout describing the assignment will be

Assignment #2
Ways of Ethnographic Listening (35% of grade): Due Tuesday, October 30th
You will conduct field “observation” somewhere in Montreal and write an ethnographic
description based on this. Instructions will be given in class. A handout describing the
assignment will be posted.

Final Exam (50% of grade)
The final exam will be cumulative. It will cover lectures, discussion and films shown in
class as well as course materials. The exam will consist primarily of multiple-choice
questions. It may also include short answers and essay questions.

Students who fulfill the course requirements and do good work will receive a B, those who fulfill
the requirements and do excellent work will receive an A, and those who fall short in any aspect
of the course will receive significantly lower grades. Please note that late essays will be docked
a third of a letter grade for each day late including weekend days. Please contact your TA if
you foresee any problems.

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Absences and Lateness

If you have to miss class it is your responsibility to get materials, assignments, and class notes
from other students (and not from the Professor or Teaching Assistant). Please do not be late to
class. It is disruptive and will be noticed.

Use of Electronic Devices
The use of all electronic devices is strongly discouraged. If laptops must be used, for note taking
only, please use them in such a way that does not disturb your neighbor. Please turn off all cell
phones and smart phones for the duration of the class. Calls and incoming messages are
distracting to others.

Office Hours
Office hours and office locations of the teaching assistants will be provided during the first
weeks of class. You are expected to consult (via meetings and emails) TAs first regarding
questions about course content—lectures and readings—and your graded material. If you have
additional questions or concerns please see Professor Kohn during office hours.

Schedule of Lectures and Readings
Note: It is difficult to predict with precision the amount of time required for many of the
following subjects. You can anticipate that some lectures will not coincide with the scheduled
dates. Please arrive to lecture having done the readings. The lectures are designed with the
assumption that you have engaged with the materials before coming to class.

General Course Outline
The course is divided into the following four units:
I Making the strange familiar (and the familiar strange)
II The anthropological vocation
III The one and the many
IV Natures

On the following page there is an outline of the course. Some modification regarding topics and
reading assignments may occur in the course of the semester. It is possible that some additional
reading assignments will be posted on WebCT.

Please note that in the event of extraordinary circumstances beyond the University’s
control, the content and/or evaluation scheme in this course is subject to change.

Prof. Kohn ANTH 202 4

Course Outline

Anthropology: an introduction

1) The riddle of the sphinx
Tuesday, September 4

I) Making the strange familiar (and the familiar strange)

2) Strangeness and depth
Thursday, September 6

Geertz: Deep play: notes on the Balinese cockfight

Gardner: Forest of Bliss

3) Ways of anthropological knowing
Tuesday, September 11

Rosaldo: Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage

Asch: The Ax Fight
Deren: Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti (clips)

4) Becoming strange
Thursday, September 13

Boas: On Alternating Sounds
Mead: Introduction, Coming of Age in Samoa
Miner: Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

Birdwhistell and Van Vlack: Microcultural Incidents in Ten Zoos

Assignment #1 Sci Fi Treatment (POSTED)

5) S.F. (speculative fabulation)
Tuesday, September 18

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Borges: Funes the Memorious

Rabinow: Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, Forward, Introduction.

II) The anthropological vocation

6) The making of an anthropologist
Thursday, September 20

Lévi-Strauss: The Making of An Anthropologist
Rabinow: Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, Chs. 1-3.

7) Ethnographic fieldwork
Tuesday, September 25

Malinowski: Introduction, Argonauts of the Western Pacific
Rabinow: Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, Chs. 4-6.

Assignment #1 Sci Fi Treatment (DUE)

8) Fieldnotes and writing
Thursday, September 27

Malinowski: A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term
Lévi-Strauss: A Writing Lesson
Taussig: I Swear I Saw This, Ch. 1
Rabinow: Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, Chs. 7,8, Conclusion.

9) Engaged anthropology
Tuesday, October 2

D’Andrade, Scheper-Hughes and commentators: Objectivity and Militancy: A Debate

10) Ways of listening
Thursday, October 4

Agee and Evans: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (selections)

Taylor: Sweetgrass (selected clips)

Feld: Rainforest Soundwalks (selections); The Time of Bells (selections)
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Assignment #2: Ways of Ethnographic Listening (POSTED)

III) The one and the many

11) Making people
Tuesday, October 9

Turner: The Social Skin

12) Relating…and detaching
Thursday, October 11

Gershon: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

13) Structures of power
Tuesday, October 16

Hertz: The Pre-eminence of the Right Hand
Mintz: Time, Sugar, and Sweetness

14) Globals and locals
Thursday, October 18

Hacking: Making Up People

Wiseman: High School

15) Making up people I
Tuesday, October 23

Wiseman: High School

16) Making up people II
Thursday, October 25

Bestor: Supply-Side Sushi

17) Violence
Tuesday, October 30
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Taussig: Terror as Usual

Assignment #2: Ways of Ethnographic Listening (DUE)

18) Memory
Thursday, November 1

Behar: The Girl in the Cast

Stevenson and Kohn: El Reflejo

19) Individuality
Tuesday, November 6

Wilson: Indulgence
Schull: Digital Gambling

Schull: Buffet

IV) Natures

20) Race
Thursday, November 8

Pierpont: The Measure of America
American Anthropological Association: Statement on Race

21) Genders
Tuesday, November 13

Kulick: The Gender of Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes
Thompson: Quit Sniveling Cryobaby

Thursday, November 15, NO CLASS

22) The problem with twos
Tuesday, November 20

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Scheper-Hughes and Lock: The Mindful Body

23) Humanimality and the Living Thought
Thursday, November 22

Haraway: The Companion Species Manifesto (selections)
Deacon: Symbols aren’t Simple (begin reading)
Freud: The Forgetting of Proper Names

Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds (clips)

24) In Class Review

Tuesday, November 27

Closing remarks

25) Riddles of the sphinx
Thursday, November 29

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Filmography/Discography and Bibliography of Assigned Books and

Readings in the Course Pack

Asch, Timothy, et al.
1989 The Ax fight. In Yanomamo film series. Watertown, Mass.: Documentary Educational
Barbash, Ilisa, Lucien Taylor, and Cinema Guild.
2009 Sweetgrass. New York: distributed by The Cinema Guild,.
Birdwhistell, Ray L., Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute Philadelphia. Dept. of Studies
in Human Communication., and Psychological Cinema Register (Pennsylvania State University)
2005 Microcultural incidents in ten zoos an illustrated lecture. University Park, PA: Penn State
Media Sales,.
Deren, Maya, Teiji Ito, and Cherel Ito
1986 Divine horsemen the living gods of Haiti. New York: Mystic Fire Video.
Feld, Steven
2001 Rainforest soundwalks ambiences of Bosavi, Papua New Guinea. [s.l.]: Earth Ear,.
Feld, Steven
2006 The time of bells. 4 soundscapes of Italy, Denmark, Finland, Japan, and Iraq/USA. [S.l.]:
Gardner, Robert, et al.
2001 Forest of bliss. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Film Archive : Distributed by Harvard
University Press,.
Grandin, Temple
2010 The World Needs All Kinds of Minds. TED Talks. February 2010.
Schull, Natasha Dow
2006 Buffet. [S.l.]: Binge Productions.
Stevenson, Lisa and Eduardo Kohn
2010 El Reflejo.
Wiseman, Frederick
1996 High school. Cambridge, MA: Zipporah Films.

Rabinow, Paul
1977 Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Bibliography (by unit and date)

Making the strange familiar (and the familiar strange)
Geertz, Clifford
2005 Deep play: notes on the Balinese cockfight. Daedalus (Fall 2005):56-86.
Rosaldo, Renato
1989 Introduction: Grief and a Headhunter's Rage. In Culture and Truth: The Remaking of
Social Analysis. Pp. 1-21. Boston: Beacon Press.
Boas, Franz
1889 On Alternating Sounds. American Anthropologist 11:47-54.
Mead, Margaret
[1928] 2006 Coming of Age in Samoa. In Readings for A History of Anthropological Theory.
Prof. Kohn ANTH 202 10

P.A. Erickson and L.D. Murphy, eds. Pp. 124-129. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press.
Miner, Horace
1956 Body Ritual among the Nacirema. American Anthropologist 58:503-507.
Borges, Luis
1998 Funes, The Memorious. In Fictions. A. Kerrigan, ed. Pp. 97-105. Paris, New York: Calder

The anthropological vocation
Levi-Strauss, Claude
1955 The Making of an Anthropologist. In Tristes Tropiques. Pp. 51-60. New York: Penguin
Malinowski, Bronislaw
1922 Introduction: The Subject, Method and Scope of this Inquiry. In Argonauts of the
Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of
Melanesian New Guinea. Pp. 1-25. Long Grove: Waveland Press, Inc. .
Malinowski, Bronislaw
1967 A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term. N. Guterman, transl. Pp.212-223. Stanford:
Stanford University Press.
Levi-Strauss, Claude
1955 A Writing Lesson. In Tristes Tropiqes. Pp. 294-304. New York: Penguin Books.
Taussig, Michael
2011 Chapter 1. In I Swear I Saw This. Pp. 1-9. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
D’Andrade, Roy
1995 Moral Models in Anthropology. Current Anthropology 36(3): 399-408.
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy
1995 The Primacy of the Ethical: Propositions for a Militant Anthropology. Current
Anthropology 36(3): 409-440.
Agee, James, Walker Evans
1939 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Pp. xiii-xiv, 7-36, 47.85. New York: Ballantine Books Inc.

The one and the many
Turner, Terence S.
2007 The Social Skin. In Beyond the Body Proper. M. Lock, Judith Farquhar, ed. Pp. 83-103.
Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Hacking, Ian
2007 Making Up People. In Beyond the Body Proper. M. Lock, Judith Farquhar, ed. Pp. 150-
163. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Gershon, Ilana
2010 Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 20(2): 389-405.
Hertz, Robert
2007 The Pre-eminence of the Right Hand: A Study in Religious Polarity. In Beyond the Body
Proper. M. Lock, Judith Farquhar, ed. Pp. 30-40. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Mintz, Sidney W.
1997 Time, Sugar, and Sweetness. In Food and Culture: A Reader. Carol Counihan, Penny Van
Esterik, ed. Pp. 357-369. New York, London: Routledge.

Prof. Kohn ANTH 202 11

Bestor, Theodore C.
2001 Supply-Side Sushi: Commodity, Market, and the Global City. American Anthropologist
Taussig, Michael
1992 Terror as Usual: Walter Benjamin's Theory of History as State of Siege. In The Nervous
System. Pp. 11-35. New York, London: Routledge, Chapman and Hall Inc.
Behar, Ruth
1996 The Girl in the Cast. In The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart.
Pp. 104-135. Boston: Beacon Press.
Wilson, Margaret
2005 Indulgence. In Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession. D. Kulick, Anne Meneley, ed. Pp.
153-167. New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Schull, Natasha Dow
2005 Digital Gambling: The Coincidence of Desire and Design. Annals of the American
Academy, American Academy of Political and Social Science (597):65-81.

Pierpont, Claudia Roth
2004 The Measure of America. In The New Yorker. March 8, 2004. Pp. 48-63.
American Anthropological Association
May 17, 1998 American Anthropological Association Statement on "Race".
Kulick, Don
1997 The Gender of Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes. American Anthropologist 99(3):574-
Thompson, Charis
2007 Quit Sniveling, Cryo-baby, We'll Work Out Which One's Your Mama! In Beyond the Body
Proper. M. Lock, Judith Farquhar, ed. Pp. 623-639. Durham, London: Duke University Press.
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, Margaret M. Lock
1987 The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology. Medical
Anthropology Quarterly 1:6-41.
Haraway, Donna Jeanne
2003 The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Pp. 1-5, 40-
42. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
Deacon, Terrence William
1997 Symbols Aren't Simple. In The Symbolic Species: the Co-evolution of Language and the
Brain. Pp. 69-101. New York, London: W.W. Norton.
Freud, Sigmund
[1901] 1989 The Forgetting of Proper Names. In The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. J.
Strachey, ed. Pp. 9-17. The standard edition of the complete works of Sigmund Freud. New York,
London: W.W. Norton.