Advanced Cultural Anthropology: Concepts and Practice

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
ANTH 2200
Advanced Cultural Anthropology: Concepts and Practice
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week Seminar: 2 hrs. per week
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives and will include lecture format, supplemented with seminar discussions and student presentations, as well as selected relevant films/videos.

Course Description
This course is an examination of the major theoretical perspectives in anthropology in relation to classic ethnographic sources and the experience of anthropologists in the field.
Course Content

  1. Introduction:              
    • Science and social science;                 
    • The nature of anthropological discourse and the practice of anthropology;
    • Major paradigms and modern problems, an overview.
  2. Earlier Social Theorists and Philosophers:
    • The Enlightenment and the locus of knowledge;
    • The development of the scientific method;
    • Comte and the social sciences;
    • De Coulanges and the Ancient City.
  3. Early Evolutionists and the 19th Century Social Philosophers:
    • Darwin and Social Darwinism
    • The stages of culture
  4. Boas and the Science of Culture:
    • Fieldwork and data collection;
    • Ethnology, ethnography and physical anthropology;
    • The North West Coast
  5. Functionalism and Structuralism:
    • Malinowski’s psychological needs and the Trobriand Islanders;
    • Radcliffe-Brown and the Chicago School;
    • American sociology and Talcott Parsons
  6. Boas’ Students:
    • Culture and personality and first field work;
    • The Mead crisis and the problem with data/theory relationships
  7. Culture and Personality Updated:
    • Psychological anthropology
  8. French Structuralism and Symbolism:
    • The question of the demonstrability of psychic unity;
    • The mediation of binary opposition and nature/culture;
    • “My Brother, the Parrot.”
  9. Ethnoscience and Cognitive Anthropology:
    • The mind as a landscape and the archaeology of thought.
  10. Behavioural Science and the Social Sciences:
    • Anthropology and behavioural science;
    • The possibility of a unified field.
  11. Contemporary Critiques:
    • Feminism and post-modernism;
    • Anthropology as epistemology past and present.
  12. Anthropology as Intellectual Exchange:
    • The relevance of past theory for current situations: what do we do when we have no history?  How do we prophesize without a past?
    • Technological revolutions and the human condition in the past fifty or sixty years.
  13. Concept and Practice:
    • Anthropology as cultural critique;
    • Epistemology and behaviour;
    • The nature of explanations;
    • Belief systems as self-validating.
  14. Review and Conclusions


Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, the student will be able to:

  1. Discuss the major theoretical models in sociocultural anthropology and articulate the relationship between model building and the fieldwork experience in the discipline.
  2. Articulate the “personal equation” in anthropological fieldwork experience and critically evaluate selected ethnographic works in relation to the anthropologist’s personal equation.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.  The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme might consist of:

Mid-term Exam          25%
Research Essay 30% - 40%
Final Exam           25%
Participation/Presentation 10% - 20%
Total          100%
Textbook Materials

A number of appropriate textbooks as available, such as:

  • Devita, P.  (1992).  The Naked Anthropologist.  Wadsworth Publishers.
  • Barrett, S.  (1996).  Anthropology.  University of Toronto Press.
  • McGee, R.J. & Warms, R.L.  (1996).  Anthropological Theory:  An Introductory History.  Mayfield Publishing Co.


ANTH 1100 or equivalent