Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology

Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology

Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology

ANTH 6102

CRN: 81634

Time: Th 11-1.30 pm

Location: HAH 202

Instructor: Joel Kuipers

This seminar is designed as a core course for graduate students in anthropology, graduate students in other fields, and advanced undergraduates who have an interest in social theory and anthropology. We consider modern anthropological responses to two questions of intellectual and social importance: How are societies ordered? How are groups different from one another (e.g. in their knowledge, values, practices)?Though no course could possibly cover comprehensively all approaches to these questions, we will consider a selection of historically and thematically organized approaches by reading and discussing them intensively. Because social theory consists not only of a body of facts and propositions, but also debates and controversies, we will need to come to class prepared to participate in lively discussion and dialogue. To do this, starting with week 2, each Tuesday by 2 PM, each student will have framed and written a well thought out question or comments for discussion related to the week’s readings and posted this question on the course Blackboard site under Discussion. Then, by Wednesday at 2 pm, each student will have posted a response to at least one of the questions posted the day earlier. In addition, pairs of students will lead class discussion in each session, and their joint posting (one day before class) will contain a more extensive list of questions and points for discussion.

You will each write two short “response essays,” of 3-4 (typed, double-spaced) pages. For each of two weeks of your choosing, write an essay about some of the ideas, claims, arguments, and findings found in the readings. You might explore methods, take issue with claims, or relate the readings to other work with which you are familiar. You should not undertake outside reading or research in order to write these essays. The first must be posted on Blackboard by September 28th, the second by October 26th. The third and final paper must be a 10 page double spaced AAA style paper that brings together some aspect of theory that we have discussed in class with some body of data, either original data that you have collected or data repurposed for this analysis. You will present a draft of the paper as a 10 minute, approximately 4 slide PowerPoint on Nov 30th and December 7,t.h and then post the revised paper on Blackboard by the date of the final exam for the course (TBA).

1)8/31 Introduction and Organization

2)9/7 The Authority of Anthropology as Science: guest: Dr. Sarah Wagner

Read: 1) Teddy Bear Patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City, 1908-1936 2) From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896–1954Lee D. Baker chapters 1-3; 3) David Jenkins “Object Lessons and Ethnographic Displays: Museum Exhibitions and the Making ofAmerican Anthropology” Comparative Studies in Society and History.

Due: 9/5 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 9/6.

3)9/14 Social Organization: Guest: Dr. Richard Grinker

Read: 1) “Emile Durkheim” (including Selections from Division of Labor, Suicide, Rules of Sociological Method, and Elementary Forms of Religious Life) 2) Marcel Mauss “The Gift” 3) Radcliffe-Brown “On Joking Relationships” 4) Levi-Strauss “The Problem of Incest” “Universe of Rules” “Endogamy and Exogamy” “the Principle of Reciprocity” “Dual Organizations” from The Elementary Structures of Kinship 5) GrinkerHouses in the Rainforest [chapter 3]

Due: 9/12 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 9/13.

4)9/21 Gender and Post coloniality.

Read: 1) Engels “On the Origin of the Family” 2) Ortner “Nature and Culture” 3) Nancy Chodorow “Family Structure and Feminine Personality” 4) Lila Abu Lughod “Do Muslim Women Need Saving?” 5) Saba Mahmood [excerpts TBA] 6) Attiya Ahmad [excerpt TBA]

Due: 9/19 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 9/20.

5)9/28 Marx, Property and Authority: Guest: Dr. Alex Dent

Read: 1) Marx “the Eighteenth Brumaire” 2) Marx “theses on Feuerbach” 3) Bourdieu excepts from Outline of a Theory of Practice 4) Dent “Piracy Circulatory Legitimacy, and Neoliberal Subjectivity in Brazil 5) Alex Dent “Ludic Authoritarianism”Cultural Anthropology [in press]

Due: 9/26 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 9/27.

Due: first short paper. 9/28

6)10/5Weber: Economy, Social Structure and Systems of Meaning

Read: 1) Max Weber, sections from Economy and Society, 1980 (1910s) 2) Max Weber, “Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism” 3) Geertz “Thick Description” 4) Kuipers “Evidence and Authority in Ethnographic and Linguistic Perspective”Annual Review of Anthropology

Due: 10/3 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 10/4.

7)10/12Language and the Description of Social Life

Read: 1) Edward Sapir “The status of linguistics as a science”2) Conklin “Hanuno’o Color Categories” 3) Bauman “Performance” 4) Hymes “Ethnography of Communication” 5) Woolard “Code Switching” 6) Kuipers “Medical Discourse”Medical Anthropology Quarterly

Due: 10/10 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 10/11.

8)10/19Governmentality and Discipline: Foucault. Guest: Professor Ilana Feldman

Read: 1) Foucault “Governmentality” 2) Foucault “Discipline” in Discipline and Punish 3) Feldman “Governing Gaza” [excerpts]

Due: 10/17 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 10/18.

9)10/26 Mediation of National and Religious Life

Read: 1) Benedict Anderson “Old Languages, New Models” and “Census, Map Museum” in Imagined Communities 2) Patrick Eisenlohr “Media and Religious Diversity” 3) John Durham Peters “Recording Beyond the Grave: Joseph Smith’s Celestial Bookkeeping”

Due: 10/24 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 10/25.

Due: second short paper 10/26

10)11/2 Globalization– Guest: Dr. Joshua Bell Curator of Globalization, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Read:1) Mazzarella, W. 2004. "Culture, Globalization, Mediation." Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 345-3672) Cooper, Frederick 2009. “Space, Time, and History: The Conceptual Limits of Globalization.” In Empirical futures : anthropologists and historians engage the work of Sidney W. Mintz. G. Baca, A. Khan, and S. Palmié, eds. University of North Carolina Press. Pp. 31-57 3) Tsing, A. 2009. “Supply Chains and the Human Condition.” Rethinking Marxism 21(2): 148-176. 4) Bell, J. A. (2016) Dystopian realities and archival dreams in the Purari Delta of Papua New Guinea. Social Anthropology, 24: 20–35. 5) Bell, Joshua A. 2017. A Bundle of Relations: Collections, Collecting and Communities. Annual Review of Anthropology 46(1): 241-259.

Due: 10/31 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 11/1.

11)11/9Subjectivity –

Read: 1) Ortner, Sherry “Subjectivity and Cultural Critique” 2) Luhrman, Tanya “Subjectivity” 3) Beneveniste, Emile “Subjectivity in Language” 4) Marcus Gary “The Riddle of Consciousness” 5) Satel and LilienfeldBrainwashed [excerpts]

Due: 11/7 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 11/8.

12)11/16 Mobilities – Guest: Dr.Steven Lubkemann.

Read: TBA

Due: 11/14 2 pm: response to readings ~100 words; comment by 11/15.

13)11/30 Presentations

14)12/7 Presentations

Participation 10%

Blackboard discussion 10%

Week joint presentation10%

Paper 120%

Paper 220%

Final paper 30%

Rubric for reading journal

– / Makesanobservation(s)aboutthereadingorasksquestionsofthematerial,butthejournal entryisnottiedtospecificpassagesfromthereading.Manygeneral,vaguecomments.Not engaged with specificpassages.
√ / Engageswithmultiplespecificpassagesfromthereadings;offersacontextandrationaleforthe observations and questionsposed.
+ / Findspatternsandrepeatedthemesinthereadingsorfindsacommonthreadamongseveral passages;pushestheevidenceinthereadings,attemptstoexploretheramificationsand
implications of the texts, or makes connections with modern events or themes.
Rubric for Evaluating Ethnographic Writing
criterion / A / B / C / D
20% / The goal/hypothesis of the paper is clearly described. / The goal of the paper is described, and linked in a general way to the other parts of the paper / The goal of the study is vague / The goals of the paper are inconsistent and unclear
Intertextual relations
25% / The relations of the textual data to both 1) ethnographic observation 2) written sources are clear and compelling / The writer describes the methods for gathering data and the linkages to other written sources / The ways in which the ethnographic data and the written sources are integrated are vague / How textual/observational data was gathered, and how written sources were used is left unclear, relations to other strands of thought unclear
25% / The relation (flow) between paragraphs and sentences is logical and clear and compelling / The relations between the components of the paper make sense / The relations between the components of the paper are vague / The flow of the paper does not make sense and is confusing
Reference – what is being described
20% / The description of the material is accurate, believable and vivid / The description is recognizable and mostly accurate / The descriptive material in the paper is vague / The descriptive material in the paper is confusing and unclear.
10% / Spelling, formatting is appropriate and neat / Spelling, formatting is adequate / Some grammatical and spelling errors / Many grammatical, spelling and formatting errors.

Papers should use a consistent style of citation (e.g. MLA, APA or Chicago; I prefer Chicago, but it’s up to you). I strongly recommend that you use citation software such as Refworks (supported by GW) or Endnote.

For reading responses and for your short and final papers, consult the rubrics.


I personally support the GW Code of Academic Integrity. It states:: “Academic dishonesty is defined as cheating of any kind, including misrepresenting one's own work, taking credit for the work of others without crediting them and without appropriate authorization, and the fabrication of information.” For the remainder of the code, see:



Any student who may need an accommodation based on the potential impact of a disability should contact the Disability Support Services office at 202-994-8250 in the Marvin Center, Suite 242, to establish eligibility and to coordinate reasonable accommodations. For additional information please refer to:


The University Counseling Center (UCC) offers 24/7 assistance and referral to addressstudents'personal, social, career, and study skillsproblems. Services for students include:

-crisis and emergency mental health consultations

-confidential assessment, counseling services (individual and small group), and referrals


In the case of an emergency, if at all possible, the class should shelter in place. If the building that the class is in is affected, follow the evacuation procedures for the building. After evacuation, seek shelter at a predetermined rendezvous location.


Over 15 weeks, students will spend 3 hours (150 minutes) per week in class, (37.5 hours for the semester). Homework and other out-of- class work is estimated at around 360 minutes per week (90 hours for the semester); in addition, there will be a ~10 page final paper for which approximately 15 hours of work is expected.