21A.00 | Spring 2022 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Anthropology


Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

Through the comparative study of different cultures, anthropology explores fundamental questions about what it means to be human. It seeks to understand how culture both shapes societies, from the smallest island in the South Pacific to the largest Asian metropolis, and affects the way institutions work, from scientific laboratories to Christian megachurches. This course will provide a framework for analyzing diverse facets of human experience such as gender, ethnicity, language, politics, economics, and art.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop a firm understanding of major contemporary debates in anthropology, and their broader social implications
  • Gain experience with ethnographic research methods, and an appreciation of their historical development and epistemological underpinnings
  • Become comfortable reading anthropological research and applying anthropological theories to analyzing cultural phenomena
  • Pioneer new methods of making culture, experimentally applying anthropological ideas to effect positive change in the world

Required Texts

Graeber, David, and David Wengrow. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021. ISBN: ‎9780374157357. [Preview with Google Books]

Reading Assignments

Students are expected to read approximately 40–50 pages a week as the basis for class discussion. Length of readings is indicated for each session/week. For more detail, see the Readings section.

Writing Assignments

Students will complete 4 commentary papers as well as 2 research papers. For more detail, see the Assignments section.

Attendance and Participation

Your grade for class participation is not calculated by how much you speak, but rather how you participate in enabling a lively and useful discussion both inside and out of class. At times this means bouncing an idea off the group or bringing up something that’s puzzling you. At other times this involves asking one of your peers to elaborate more fully on a thought that they are sharing. And sometimes this entails sitting quietly and holding onto an idea that can best be entertained at a later point in the discussion.

  • Come prepared to discuss and answer questions about all readings. This means you must bring all readings to class.
  • Use of laptops, cell phones or other devices unrelated to the class is strictly forbidden.
  • If you must be absent, alert us in advance. Any unexcused absences will affect your final grade.

Grading Policy

Attendance and participation 20%
Presentations (2 x 4% each) 8%
Commentary papers (4 x 8% each) 32%
Ritual design 8%
Research papers (2 x 16% each) 32%

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2022
Learning Resource Types
Activity Assignments
Instructor Insights
Written Assignments with Examples