New: Looking At Reciprocity: An Anthropological Perspective
Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and
one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not
reciprocal, said James Baldwin, illustrating one of the
reasons that reciprocity is so important to human
beings. Heres another, from a big man in Papua New
Guinea: Now that I have given you all these things,
I have won. I have knocked you down by giving so
much [because you cannot reciprocate with a greater
gift]. This course will investigate beliefs and behaviour
around reciprocity in different societies across time
and space, raising questions about the ethics as well
as the effect of different traditions. The emphasis will
be on discussion, sharing ideas based on the crosscultural
material provided in class as well as our own
Who is this course for
The course is for anyone who is interested in finding out what Anthropology can contribute to our understanding and appreciation of the significance of reciprocity in human life. The only requirement is that you are open-minded, prepared to contribute to discussion and interested in people.
What does this course cover
Anthropologists take a holistic view of human development and diversity. They gather evidence from many sources including popular culture - films, literature, magazines, music, galleries, museums, the internet - as well as direct observation and academic texts. They use this evidence to compare the things people produce and the way they behave, and the beliefs underlying that behaviour, in different societies. One interesting area of study concerns reciprocity. Why is reciprocity such a fundamental feature of all human societies? What similarities and differences do we find in beliefs and behavior around reciprocity from different cultures across space and time? What is the effect of different traditions? What happens when those traditions change - whether through drift or desire or force? What about the ethics involved?
By the end of the course you should be able to:
- Compare and contrast the significance of reciprocity in different societies across time and space.
- Use examples to explain the effects of changing beliefs and behavior in relation to reciprocity.
- Describe some of the ethical issues involved in different approaches to reciprocity.
What will it be like
Learning and teaching methods 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 to participate fully in class.
What this course could lead to
Students can enrol on the next course An Anthropological Perspective on Current Events and Issues. They may also be interested in the Mary Ward Centre's Archaeology courses.
I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.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.’