ANTHY101-21A (HAM)

Exploring Cultures: Introduction to Anthropology

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences


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Paper Description

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Anthropology has a central interest in the diversity of human experience but it also recognises that many practices and beliefs are shared by all people. For example, virtually every society has an institution which we could call ‘marriage’. However, the cultural expression of marriage varies from society to society: some groups allow one man to marry several women, others allow one woman to marry several men, still others permit marriage with the same sex or even with the dead.

Anthropology is also holistic. That is, it recognises that all parts of a society are interrelated and that the belief systems of a society impinge on everything. Therefore, anthropology looks at practices such as inheritance, kinship, child rearing, religion, markets and so on in their wider cultural context. For instance, it is possible simply to describe the technology of planting rice and measure the amount harvested. However, an anthropologist would try to gain a more complex and complete understanding of the place of rice in a particular society by looking at land tenure, men’s and women’s work, economics, exchange, gift giving, everyday eating and special feasting.Because anthropology looks at whole societies, it overlaps with many other subjects – economics, psychology, medicine, law, religion, politics, history etc. It also prepares you to analyse and understand cultural variation so that you can usefully contribute to the many debates that centre on ethnicity.

As an academic discipline, anthropology has been practised for about 150 years -our intellectual ancestors were the travellers who tried to understand the customs of people who were very different from themselves. Where possible, anthropologists go and live for an extended period among the people whose way of life they wish to comprehend. They learn the language and become participant observers, seeking understanding through taking part in daily activities and talking to people as well as watching and recording the life of the society.While anthropology began as the study of ‘exotic’ cultures, the methodological approaches are also applied to complex Western societies. Therefore one finds anthropologists writing about isolated islands AND the health beliefs of middle class women in Auckland, the Azande AND the Mongrel Mob. Even virtual societies follow the rules of human societies generally so we can look at the social customs of Social Media such as Facebook.


Several broad themes guide this course:

1. everywhere people have the same concerns about birth, living and death and about relationships with the natural world (earth, sky, water, forests, kin and strangers) and the supernatural world (gods, demons, the dead). However, the expression of these concerns differs from society to society.
2. each society has its own internal logic. Anthropology challenges our taken-for-granted views of the way the world should be by looking at other people’s beliefs. Customs and beliefs which, in one society, may seem quaint or bizarre from a tourist’s point of view, are perfectly reasonable to the people of that society. Anthropology helps you to overcome ethnocentrism (seeing everything from your own cultural standpoint) and helps you understand the sense and logic of other ways of life.
3. anthropology, like all sciences, uses a variety of theoretical approaches to organise the information collected during fieldwork. This course will introduce you to the different theories used by anthropologists in their efforts to understand other societies and, ultimately, their own.
4. studying people raises moral and ethical questions about the use of information and the responsibilities of the fieldworker.
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Paper Structure

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There are two lectures and one tutorial that you must attend each week.
LECTURES are on Tuesday, 1.00 pm - 2.00 pm. in LG.04 and Thursday 10.00 am – 11.00 a.m. in S.1.04.
Weekly TUTORIALS begin in the second week of the semester. Attendance and meaningful participation is worth 10% of your final grade

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Objective:
    The aim of this course is to familiarise you with basic anthropological concepts and some of the ethical and theoretical discussions which occur in the discipline. It encourages you to apply an anthropological lens to current national and global issues and develop a deep appreciation for cultural diversity. It also prepares you for Anthropology papers you may take at second and third year levels.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Graduate Attributes

    ANTH 101 contributes to developing number 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the following Anthropology Graduate Attributes:

    1. An acceptance of cultural difference and an ability to communicate cross-culturally
    2. A knowledge of the impact of colonialism and globalisation on indigenous peoples.
    3. An awareness of the social and human diversity of the Pacific region, past and present.
    4. A capacity to employ Anthropology’s critical lens to interpret and improve our world.
    5. An understanding of qualitative and other research techniques and their applications.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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How achievement will be measured

moodle quiz, two in-class tests, essay template and final exam.
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Tutorial Attendance and Participation
2. online assessment
12 Mar 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Test One
1 Apr 2021
10:00 AM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4.  Test Two
13 May 2021
10:00 AM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Essay Template
27 May 2021
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
6. Final Test
9 Jun 2021
10:00 AM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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There are two required course books. These are available from Bennetts book shop, various online market places and a desk copy of both will be available in the library.

1.T. Eriksen. Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, Pluto Press. Either the third or fourth edition are fine.

2. Culture Sketches: Case Studies in Anthropology. 2012. New York: McGraw Hill. I am using the 6th edition, but other editions are fine as long as they have the chapters listed in the readings.

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Online Support

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This course is supported by moodle.
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You should spend 10 hours a week on this paper. This includes lecture and tutorial attendance, readings and preparation for assessments.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: ANTH101

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