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Course Instructor: Jordan Haug

Classroom hours: T,R 2pm-3:15pm

Office Hours: By appointment

Course Summary

This course will cover:

  1. The history of theory in 20th century Social and Cultural Anthropology (at least until the mid-1980s).
  2. How theoretical traditions have build on the foundations of their predecessors.
  3. How differing theoretical perspectives contribute to alternative interpretations.
  4. The value of theory to anthropological analysis and argumentation.

Course Learning Objectives

Students will gain:

  1. A knowledge of the foundational theorists of both sociocultural and archaeological anthropology, particularly at the turn of the 20th century.
  2. Personal skills in evaluating the relevance and/or applicability of foundational theorists in sociocultural anthropology and archaeology.
  3. A recognition of our reliance on foundational theory in our world today.
  4. An increased aptitude for critical thinking and expression through course assignments.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Information” tab_id=”1527623588361-e1e6c1d6-f093″][vc_column_text]Required Text (0 books)

There is no need to purchase a text book for this course. All of the readings will be provided as PDFs.

Coursework Standards

Please read the newsletter guide, “How to Build a Class Schedule,” which states that “BYU expects students to spend at least 2 hours doing work outside of class” per credit hour. This means you should usually be spending at least 6 hours outside of lecture doing course work for a three credit course.

Seminar Readings

Each seminar will have required readings or videos marketed with bullet points.

Note Taking

Please refrain from using laptops, tablets, or smartphones during class. Many studies have found that allowing laptops, tablets, or smartphones in a classroom drastically effects the learning environment of all students, not just the ones using the technology. Content comprehension and memory retention are also drastically improved if you use a pen or pencil and a simple pad of paper to take notes on during class seminars. You will be tested on the content discussed in the following videos.

If you are unable to take notes without a computer, please let me know. I’ll try my best to accommodate you. However, if I notice any inappropriate use of technology during class, only students with notes from the accessibility office will be allowed to use electronics in class.

Assignment Instructions

I’ll be providing you with further instructions concerning assignments during our regular meeting times. If you have questions about an assignment, please ask for clarifications during class. You will need to attend the course lectures if you want thorough instructions.

Class Participation

There are few students enrolled in this course. Therefore, you must attend and participate in discussions. Full participation points will be awarded according to the frequency of attendance and participation in class discussions. We’ll discuss during the seminar precisely what those standards may be. Participation in the course is worth 60 points.


Please message me directly through Learning Suite. When composing emails/messages, please follow the instructions from this useful guide. If you do not follow those instructions, I will not respond to your emails. Awaiting my response is never an excuse for not completing the assignments as described in the syllabus. When in doubt, check the syllabus.

Sensitive Subjects

The study of anthropology may address potentially sensitive topics that a broad range of people face throughout the world. While I will try to guide us through these topics in a careful manner, it is important to recognize that the discussion of these topics is central to understanding of cultures throughout the world. Constructive participation in these discussions means respectful engagement with the issues and sensitivity to how these discussions may impact fellow students. I will be respectful as well. However, recent research has confirmed that the use of “trigger-warnings” can actually be harmful to people, especially those dealing with trauma. I believe issues should challenge us and confronting many of the disturbing aspects of the human experience is essential for understanding human cultural diversity.

Some of you may find yourselves strongly disagreeing with some of the arguments we’ll be reading in this class. I do not expect, or want, you to agree with every author; however, I do expect you consider the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments carefully. Doing so is essential for strengthening your own convictions. John Stuart Mills, perhaps, said it best, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion” (On Liberty [1859], Ch. 2). You are free to disagree with any perspective offered in the assigned readings, by me, or another student, however, you must do so in a respectful manner. Please remember that appeals from authority are defeasible, and if used without supporting evidence, other than the authority itself, they are formally fallacious. Do not engage in competing appeals from authority without supporting evidence. If you fail to treat the course material, myself, or another student respectfully and thoughtfully (providing questions and comments in good faith), I will invite you to attend class no longer. Missed participation points are not recoverable.

University Policies

Please review the syllabus available on Learning Suite for more information concerning university polities, such as accessibility and mental health accommodations, the prevention of sexual harassment/violence, and plagiarism.

Point Distribution and Late Assignments

Below is a breakdown of the points available in the course. Late assignments will be accepted, but the grade will be automatically reduced by a whole letter grade. There is no time limit on accepting late assignments, but they are also considered late immediately after the assigned time they are due.


The grade scale is the following– A: 940-1200; A-: 900-929; B+: 870-899; B: 830-869; B-: 800-829; C+: 770-799; C: 730-769; C-: 700-729; D+: 670-699; D: 630-669; and D-: 600-629.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Schedule” tab_id=”1527623779727-9cf68d03-b218″][vc_column_text]


Jan. 7 (T)- Seminar: Introduction- Syllabus

Jan. 9 (R)- Seminar: Revisiting Reciprocity [Review of 201].

  • Everyone: Read— Sykes, K. (2005). Arguing with Anthropology, Pp. 38-74. London: Routledge.


Jan. 14 (T)- Seminar: The Promise of Ethnography.

  • Everyone: Read— Selections from Evans-Pritchard, E.E. (1937). Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Jan. 16 (R)- Seminar: Language, Rationality, or Science?

  • Everyone: Watch— Philosophy-Wittgenstein. School of Life [6.57 mins].
  • Everyone: Read— Ulin, R. (2001). “Peter Winch and Ordinary Language Philosophy,” and “Neo-Popperians and the Logic of One Science: I.C. Jarvie and Robin Horton.” In Understanding Cultures: Perspectives in Anthropology and Social Theory, 2nd ed, Pp. 46-88. Malden: Blackwell.


Jan. 21 (T)- Seminar: Theory as Explanation and Understanding.

  • Everyone: Read— Joas, H. & W. Knöbl (2004). “What is Theory?” In Social Theory: Twenty Introductory Lectures, Trans. A. Skinner, Pp. 1-18. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Everyone: Watch– “Linguistic Relativity.” Patrick Farrell [8.33 mins].

Jan. 23 (R)- Seminar: The Boasians Come of Age.

  • Group A: Read— Moore, J.D. (2019). Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists, 5th ed., Pp. 130-157. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield [Leslie White, Julian Steward, Marvin Harris].
  • Group B: Read— Moore, J.D. (2019). Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists, 5th ed., Pp. 56-63, 158-164, 242-257. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield [Ruth Benedict, Eleanor Burke Leacock, Eric Wolf].


Jan. 28 (T)- Seminar: Ritual and Event in Social Analysis.

  • Group A: Read— Selections of Richards, A. (1956). Chisungu: A girls’ initiation ceremony among the Bemba of Northner Rhodesia. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Group B: Read— Selections of Turner, V. (1996 [1957]). Schism and Continuity in an African Society: A Study of Ndembu Village Life. Oxford: Berg.
  • Group C: Read— Selections of Bateson, G. (1958). Naven, 2nd ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Jan. 30 (R)- Seminar: Problems with Structural Functionalism.

  • Everyone: Read— Selections of Leach, E. (1964). Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Katchin Social Structure. London: Athlone Press.


Feb. 4 (T)- Seminar: The Capitalist World System.

  • Everyone: Read— Crumley, C.L. (1995). Heterarchy and the Analysis of Complex Societies. Archaeological Papers for the American Anthropological Association 6(1): 1-5.
  • Group A: Read— Wengrow, D. & D. Graeber (2015). Farewell to the ‘childhood of man’: ritual, seasonality, and the origins of inequality. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21(3): 597-619.
  • Group B: Read— Fowels, S. (2018). The Evolution of Simple Society. Asian Archaeology 21(1): 19-32.

Feb. 6 (R)- Seminar:Inequality, Heterarchy, and Complexity Revisited.

  • Everyone: Read— Linton, R. (1937). One Hundred Per Cent American. American Mercury (April): 427-429.
  • Everyone: Read— Sahlins, M. (1988). Cosmologies of Capitalism: The Trans-Pacific Sector of ‘The World System.’ Proceedings of the British Academy LXXIV: 1-51.


Feb. 11 (T)- Seminar: Structuralism.

  • Everyone: Read— Wiseman, B. & Groves, J. (1997). Introducing Lévi-Strauss. New York: Totem Books [YOU NEED TO BUY THIS, the whole book is required].
  • Everyone: Read— Selections from Cobley, P.  & Jansz, L. (1997). Introducing Semiotics. New York: Totem Books.

Feb. 13 (R)- Seminar: Structuralism, Phenomenology, and Material Culture.

  • Group A: Read— Bourdieu, P. (1990 [1980]). “Appendix: The Kabyle House or the World Reversed.” In Logic of Practice, Trans. R. Nice, Pp. 271-283. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Group B: Read— Munn, N. (1977). The Spatiotemporal Transformations of Gawa Canoes. Journal de la Société des océanistes n°54-55(33): 39-53.
  • Group C: Read— Lévi-Strauss, C. (2001). “Hourglass Configurations.” In P. Maranda, ed., The Double Twist: From Ethnography to Morphodynamics, Pp. 15-32. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


Feb. 18 (T)- [NO SEMINAR]: Monday Instruction

Feb. 20 (R)- Seminar: The Interpretive Turn.

  • Everyone: Watch— Clifford Geertz: The Interpretation of Cultures. Then & Now [10.59 mins].
  • Everyone: Read— Geertz, C. (1972). “Thick Description.” In Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books [Abrided].
  • Everyone: Read— Selections from Cobley, P.  & Jansz, L. (1997). Introducing Semiotics. New York: Totem Books.


Feb. 25 (T)- Seminar: Practice Theory. 

  • Everyone: Watch— Introduction to Bourdieu: Habitus. Then & Now [11.23 mins].
  • Everyone: Watch— Bourdieu: Cultural Capital, the Love of Art & Hip-hop. Then & Now [15.29 mins].
  • Everyone: Read— Selections from Bourdieu, P. (1979-1993). Sociology in Question, Logic in Practice, and Distinction.

Feb. 27 (R)- Seminar: The Geneaology and Archaeology of Power.

  • Everyone: Watch— Introduction to Foucault. Then & Now [24.22 mins].
  • Everyone: Watch— Foucault: Biopower, Governmentality, and the Subject. Then & Now [19.53 mins].
  • Everyone: Read— Selections from Foucault, M. (1990 [1978]). The History of Sexuality. New York: Vintage.


Mar. 3 (T)- Seminar: Feminist Critiques of Structuralism.

  • Everyone: Read— Rubin, Gayle. (1975). “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex.” In R.R. Reiter, ed., Toward an Anthropology of Women, Pp. 157-210. New York: Monthly Review Press [Abridged].

Mar. 5 (R)- Seminar: The Savage Slot.

  • Everyone: Read— Trouillot, M.R. (2003). “Anthropology and the Savage Slot: The Poetics and Politics of Otherness.” In Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World, Pp. 7-28. New York: Palgrave.


Mar. 10 (T)- Seminar: The Postcolonial Critique of ‘Culture’.

  • Everyone: Read— Spivak, G.C. (1988). “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In C. Nelson & L. Grossberg, eds., Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. London: Macmillan [Abridged].
  • Group A: Read— Gupta, A. & J. Ferguson (1992). Beyond ‘Culture’: Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference. Cultural Anthropology 7(1): 6-23 [Abridged].
  • Group B: Read— Abu-Lughod, L. (1991). “Writing Against Culture.” In R.G. Fox, ed., Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present, Pp. 137-162. Sante Fe: School of American Research [Abridged].

Mar. 12 (R)- Seminar: History, Agency, and Reflexivity.

  • Group A: Read— Pauketat, T.R. (2001). Practice and history in archaeology: An emerging paradigm. Anthropological Theory 1(1): 73–98.
  • Group B: Read— Keane, W. (2003). Self-Interpretation, Agency, and the Objects of Anthropology: Reflections on a Genealogy. Comparative Studies in Society and History 45(2), 222-248.


Mar. 17 (T)- Seminar: Moral Anthropology.

  • Everyone: Read— Robbins, J. (2013). Beyond the suffering subject: Toward an anthropology of the good. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(3): 447-462.
  • Everyone: Watch— Robbins, J. (2019). The Alternative to Moral Relativism. iai [43.30 mins].

Mar. 19 (R)- Seminar: The Cosmopolitics of Objectification and Relations.

  • Everyone: Read— Stengers, I. (2005). “The Cosmopolitical Proposal.” In B. Latour, ed., Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, Pp. 994-103. Germany: ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsuhe.
  • Group A: Read— Tilley, C. (2006). “Objectification.” In C. Tilley, et al., eds., Handbook of Material Culture, Pp. 60-73. London: Sage Publications.
  • Group B: Read— Strathern, M. (2018). “Relations.” Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology.


Mar. 24 (T)- Seminar: What is real?

  • Everyone: Read— Latour, B. (1993). Selections from We Have Never Been Modern, Trans. C. Porter., Pp. 97-106, 146, 148-153. Cambridge: Harvard University Press [Abridged].
  • Group A: Read— Witmore, C. (2012). “The Realities of the Past: Archaeology, Object-Orientations, Pragmatology.” In B. Fortenberry & L. McAtackney, eds., Modern Materials: The proceedings of CHAT Oxford, 2009, Pp. 25–36. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.
  • Group B: Read—De la Candena, M. (2010). Indigenous Cosmopolitics in the Andes: Conceptual Reflections beyond ‘Politics.’ Cultural Anthropology 25(2): 334-370.

Mar. 26 (R)- Seminar: Ontologies and Comparison.

  • Group A: Read— Whitridge, P. (2004). Landscapes, Houses, Bodies, Things: “Place” and the Archaeology of Inuit Imaginaries. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 11(2): 213–250.
  • Group B: Read— Descola, P. (2005). Beyond Nature and Culture. Proceedings of the British Academy139: 137-155.
  • Group C: Read– Viverios de Castro, E. (2002). Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation. Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 2(1): 3-22.


Mar. 31 (T)- Seminar: The Consequences of Ontological Sensitivity.

  • Group A: Read— Thomas, J. (2015). The future of archaeological theory. Antiquity 89(348), 1287-1296.
  • Group A: Read– Benjamin A., et al. (2011). “Worlds Otherwise”: Archaeology, Anthropology, and Ontological Difference. Current Anthropology 52(6): 896-912.
  • Group B: Read—Watson, M.C. (2014). Listening in the Pakal controversy: A matter of care in Ancient Maya studies. Social Studies of Science 44(6), 930–954.

Apr. 2 (R)- Seminar: Materiality, Evidence, and Others’ Minds.

  • Group A: Read— Spector, J. (1993). What This Awl Means: Feminist Archaeology at a Wahpeton Dakota Village. Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press.
  • Group B: Read— Haug, J. (Forthcoming). “What is in your pocket? On the Evidence of Things Not Seen and the Opacity of Others’ Minds.” Manuscript.


Apr. 7 (T)- Seminar: The Pitfalls of Losing Critique.

  • Everyone: Read— Kofman, A. (2018, Oct. 25). Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science. The New York Times Magazine[https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/magazine/bruno-latour-post-truth-philosopher-science.html].
  • Group A: Read– Martin, K. (2019). Subaltern perspectives in post-human theory. Anthropological Theory.
  • Group B: Read— Bessire, L. & D. Bond (2018). Ontological anthropology and the deferral of critique. American Ethnologist 41(3): 440-456.

Apr. 9 (R)- Seminar: What is Decolonization?

  • Group A: Read— Colwell-Chanthoponh, C. (2012). “Archaeology and Indigenous Collaboration.” In I. Hodder, ed., Archaeological Theory Today, 2nd ed., Pp. 267-291. London: Polity.
  • Group B: Read— Allen, J.S. & R.C. Jabson (2016). The Decolonizing Generation: (Race and) Theory in Anthropology since the Eighties. Current Anthropology 57(2): 129-148.


Apr. 14 (T)- Seminar: Method as Theory.

  • Everyone: Watch— Hawkins, J. (2014). Lessons Learned from the BYU Guatemala Ethnographic Field School, 1995-2010. BYU Department of Anthropology [https://youtu.be/49RMZSWMFuw]. If you’d prefer to read instead of watch, check this out (https://doi.org/10.1086/678137).

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Assignments” tab_id=”1527624097128-b0a6684a-8f7d”][vc_column_text]Choose which assignments you’ll complete

  1. The Balinese Character.
  2. The Crow.
  3. Tajen Interactive.
  4. The Meaning of the Kula.
  5. Final Paper.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Films” tab_id=”1564102514029-5ba7a02d-6b90″][vc_column_text]Choose which assignments you want to complete. All film reviews are due on December 19th.

  1. The New Oceania (25 points).
  2. Moana Mythology (25 points).
  3. In Football We Trust (10 points).
  4. Protectors (25 points).
  5. Climate Refugees (35 points).
  6. Marks of Mana (20 points).