Seminar in Ethnology


Week 1 Marcus

Week 2 Marcus

Week 3 Moore

Week 4 Moore

Week 5 Schneider

Week 6 Schneider Paper

Week 7 Spivak

Week 8 Spivak

Week 9 Parker

Week 10 Parker

Week 12 Lem

Week 13 Lem

Week 14 Gupta

Week 15 Gupta

Final Paper Elders

Resource Links

Seminar in Ethnology
Anthropology 603
Spring 2004

Prof. Ramona Pérez
Office Hours:  T,W 10:30 to 12:30
Other hours by prior arrangement

Required Texts:

Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson (1997) Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science.

Lem, Winnie and Belinda Leach (2002) Culture, Economy, Power: Anthropology as Critique, Anthropology as Praxis

Moore, Henrietta (1999) Anthropological Theory Today

Marcus, George (2000) Rereading Cultural Anthropology

Parker, Richard (2000) Framing the Sexual Subject: The Politics of Gender, Sexuality and Power

Schneider, Jane and Rayna Rapp (1995) Articulating Hidden Histories: Exploring the Influence of Eric R. Wolf.

Spivak, Gayatri (1999) A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a history of the vanishing present


Goals and Objectives:

The primary goal of this course is to expose you to the current discussions on theory and theoretical paradigms, ethnographic methods, genres of writing, comparative frameworks for data, and the politics of “doing” anthropology, that abound in the world of ethnology today.  The course begins with the debates that took place from the 1980s through the 1990s that have greatly influenced the current moment in ethnology.  From here we will move through some of the primary paradigms for not only understanding but also interpreting, describing and even anticipating the movement of peoples and cultures through our current historic moment.

Objectives to be drawn from this goal include your ability to: use this data as a foundation for understanding ethnographic work, construct paradigms of interpretation for the work of others as well as yourself, and develop the ability to critically analyze the appropriate genres and discourses of social phenomenon.


We will cover seven books in fifteen weeks. 

Each week you will produce a descriptive and analytic overview of the assigned readings that includes three points you would like to discuss in class.  These twelve summaries are worth ten points each (25% of final grade). 

Each person will also select one set of readings as their own and will produce a more exhaustive analytical summary and at least five key points from which to lead the class in discussion.  Keep in mind that each person has written three points themselves so you will want to leave at least half the class time for discussion that you will draw from your colleagues. 

An analytical summary includes (1) a brief summation of the book in its entirety even though you will be presenting on only half the book, (2) a review of the theoretical paradigm and the paradigms the author(s) is attempting to expand on, argue against, or move in another direction (this requires that you know your history of theory), (3) the effectiveness of the argument and your reaction to the work, (4) a review of at least three outside reviews, and (5) the methodological framework that would result from this theoretical paradigm.

 In the case of an edited volume, you will need to compare and contrast the theoretical paradigms that are invoked in each thematic section for which you are responsible.  Many edited volumes allow contributors to contest each other’s work – others do not and all use the same paradigm; it is up to you to figure this out.  The analytical summary, five key points, and your facility in leading the class that week will be worth 200 points (36% of final grade).

This is due the week after your facilitation ends to allow you to take into consideration the debates and discussions we have in seminar.

The final project will be to select a contemporary ethnography (published within the last five years) and write an analytical summary of the work. The ethnography should be a reflection of the theoretical treatises we have read in class; that is, we are not reading any ethnography in class, everything we are reading are theoretical essays and thus the ethnography you choose should provide you the insight into how theories becomes interpretation.  In reality, this is the true test of your learning.

An “analytical summary” of your ethnography should include a synopsis of the ethnographic work (who, what, where, when and why), a review of the theoretical paradigm, methods and genre, and your critique of its contribution to the discipline, the people under study, and its inter or cross-disciplinary attributes and possibilities.  This is worth 150 points (28% of final grade) and is due on Wednesday, May 18th by noon. 

Your participation in class and attendance accounts for 60 points (11% of your final grade). Here is where I will take points off for not having your summaries in on time or really slacking off – you will notice that it can drop your grade by an entire grade level. Total points for the class are 550.


Course Outline:

Creating the Current Moment: 1986-1991

Week One:            Marcus, pp. vii-219

Week Two:            Marcus, pp. 220-389

Anthropology and its Interdisciplinary Nature

Week Three:            Moore, pp. 1-150

Week Four:            Moore, pp. 151-279

Week Five:            Schneider & Rapp, pp. 3-204

Week Six:            Schneider & Rapp, pp. 207-350

Reading More Than Words: The Body as a Locus of Power

Week Seven:   Spivak, pp. ix-197

Week Eight:            Spivak, pp. 198-420 (plus appendix)

Week Nine:             Parker, pp. 1-140

Week Ten:            Parker, pp. 143-259    

Week Eleven:  Spring Break

Practicing Anthropology as Theory and Method

Week Twelve:    Lem & Leach, pp. 1-162

Week Thirteen:   Lem & Leach, pp. 164-288    

Week Fourteen:  Gupta & Ferguson, pp. 1-116

Week Fifteen:       Gupta & Ferguson, pp. 117-222

Final Project Due Wednesday, May 18th by 12:00pm


Recommended Readings from Past Classes:

Axel, Brian Keith.  2002.  From the Margins: Historical Anthropology and Its Futures.
Duke University Press.

Mintz, Sidney.  1985.  Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History.
University of Chicago Press.

Sahlins, Marshall. (1995)  How “Natives” Think: About Captain Cook, for Example.

Said, Edward W.  1979. Orientalism.  Vintage Books.

Wolf, Eric R.  2001.  Pathways to Power: Building an Anthropology in the Modern World. UC Press.

Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved Victoria Kline
last updated on June 13, 2011