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Introduction to Anthropology

A famous social anthropologist once described his job as being a sort of cross-cultural private eye, spying into people's 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 it 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 it 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, for instance, on one of the important organizing principles in human society - reciprocity - examining what it means and how it works (or doesn't work) in different societies. 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 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 I 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 could it lead to?

    Students can enrol on one or more of the next anthropology courses, Everyday Anthropology: the Strange and the Familiar, or Looking at Inequality - An Anthropological Perspective in January 2022. They may also be interested in the Mary Ward Centre's Philosophy courses You may also be interested in the Archaeology courses.

Available Courses

Introduction to Anthropology

A famous social anthropologist once described his job as being a sort of cross-cultural private eye, spying into people's 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.

09 November 2024 – 16 November 2024
Saturday, 10:30 to 15:30
Course Code:401
£56 / £20
2 Meetings
1 Rushworth St
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New Looking At Family And Marriage - An Anthropological perspective

15 January 2025 – 02 April 2025
Wednesday, 13:00 to 15:00
Course Code:402
£167 / £58
12 Meetings
1 Rushworth St
View Course

New Looking At Cooperation And Competition - Anthropological Perspective

11 June 2025 – 16 July 2025
Wednesday, 13:00 to 15:00
Course Code:403
£83 / £29
6 Meetings
1 Rushworth St
View Course

Meet The Tutor

For more information contact hum@marywardcentre.ac.uk at admin@marywardcentre.ac.uk

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