Of the 8 prompts for 2-page (double-spaced) reading commentaries, students will select 3 each quarter (6 total). These short papers should address specific passages or sections of the readings (include page numbers for any quotations), and will serve as the basis for discussion throughout the semester. To facilitate discussion this should be submitted by 8 AM on the due date.

1 Lec 4 How do changing marriage patterns connect with other sociocultural transformations in Juniagu?
2 Lec 5 For many cultures cannibalism is among the deepest taboos. Why are some reasons the practice of eating dead relatives makes sense given other Wari beliefs? Another way of thinking about this: why did the prohibition of this custom cause so much grief?
3 Lec 7 A methods question: how does Kulick use the particular example of Brazilian travesti to make an argument that could be widely applicable to other, very different, cultures?
4 Lec 9 Drawing on one or more readings, discuss how practices of communication (using particular mediums or particular languages) can reflect and affect broader cultural transformations.
5 Lec 17 Using Durkheim's ideas (collective effervescence, collective representation, sacred, profane…) explain how a capoeira roda functions as a kind of ritual.
6 Lec 18 Compare cultural dynamics surrounding Aboriginal theater and painting as depicted in last week's film and today's article, respectively. Who are the different audiences? How do performers/artists manage issues of sacred knowledge?
7 Lec 20 What kind of transformations in personhood and subjectivity are involved in learning capoeira? You may want to consider the organization of pedagogy, the relationship to Brazilian culture more broadly, issues of gender (cf. Kulick).
8 Lec 22 According to Luhrmann, how does the way that magic is learned enable rational people to believe it?

Research papers

The two 4-page (double-spaced) research papers involve original ethnographic research. In response to questions that will be distributed several weeks in advance, students will select a relevant form of cultural practice or social interaction to observe and describe in comparison with case studies presented in the readings.

Research Paper Topics
First Research Paper Topics (PDF)
Second Research Paper Topics (PDF)