Introduction to Anthropology
A famous social anthropologist once described his job as being a sort of cross-cultural private eye, spying into peoples cultures instead of their bedrooms! Anthropologists look at very different societies, often finding different solutions to common human problems, for example the problem of how to obtain food or how to raise children, or how to explain sickness or understand what happens after death. Discovering these differences (or similarities) is fascinating and brings us to the essence of Anthropology - it makes us stand back and question our own assumptions. It shows that almost no piece of human behaviour is either natural or inevitable. On this course we will examine some of the ways people think and act in different cultures, including our own.
Who is this course for
The course is for anyone who is interested in finding out what Anthropology is and why it is useful. The only requirement is that you are open-minded, prepared to contribute to discussion and interested in people.
What does this course cover
This is an introductory course and the emphasis is on finding out about the subject by actually doing some Anthropology. That will involve examining the ways people think and act in different cultures, including our own. We will look for answers to key questions. What is Anthropology? what does it include? Why is it interesting? Why is it useful? How do anthropologists work? What problems do they meet? What are some of the major theories in the history of Social Anthropology and how have those ideas influenced our understanding of society and culture?
We will focus on one of the important organising principles in human society - reciprocity- examining what it means and how it works (or doesnt work) in different societies. Then, as anthropologists, will use the concept of reciprocity to investigate the institution of marriage across different cultures. What do we mean by 'marriage'? How widespread is it? How can we use the idea of reciprocity to help us understand the different rules and practices surrounding marriage? How diverse is marriage? Does cross-cultural comparison lead to deeper understanding of our own traditions and taboos?
Underpinning the course is an understanding that each individual brings into class his or her own unique set of assumptions and evaluations based on different beliefs and experiences, and that sharing these different perspectives enriches and deepens learning for all.
By the end of the course you should be able to:
- Explain what Anthropology is and what distinguishes it from other social sciences
- Recognise and question culturally determined assertions
- Identify and describe at least two of the key theories in the history of Social Anthropology
- Use an anthropological approach to investigate an aspect of culture
What will it be like
Learning and teaching methods used include tutor presentation, discussion, small and large group activities, watching documentary film, research. There is no formal assessment. Your progress will be monitored and supported through observation and discussion.
What else do you need to buy or do
You only need paper and pen. You should read the material provided by the tutor. This will help you participate fully in class.
What this course could lead to
Students can enrol on the next course, Looking at Transitions starting in January 2018 and An Anthropological Perspective on Current Events and Issues in April 2018.
It's confirmed my interest in the subject & inspired me to pursue it further. Also has challenged many of my preconceptions.MWC student
This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria
Got a Question about this Course?
Contact The Departmental Administrator.
Why come to Mary Ward Centre?
Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.
Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’