I want to...

Introduction to anthropology

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 4.30pm - 6.20pm

Lecture venue

Course description

This course is an introduction to a variety of topical areas in the history, methodology, theory, and critiques of sociocultural anthropology. From hunter-gatherers to online gamers, the discipline aims to observe and understand a variety of cultures from around the world. Areas of current debate within sociocultural anthropology that we will explore include culture, representation, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, religion, nationalism and transnationalism, power and inequality, and the evolution of field methods. Anthropology strives “to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange”.

In doing so, some of our long-held beliefs and experiences may be challenged. Anthropology thus provides a critical lens onto many phenomena and issues which we encounter. Students will use anthropology’s hallmark method of ethnography to study groups and cultures during the semester.

Course learning outcomes

  • Examine central themes and theories of cultural anthropology.
  • Conduct ethnographic research and apply anthropological concepts to cultural practices that you encounter.
  • Interact with current debates within anthropology
  • Describe how the anthropological view of cultural differences and inequalities can generate solutions to problems of contemporary human existence


In-class Quizzes20%
Ethnographic Project and Paper60%

Required reading

Konopinski, Natalie. 2014. Doing Anthropological Research: A Practical Guide.

Mauss, Marcel. The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Routledge, 2002[1950]. Selections.

Rabinow, Paul. Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco. 2007. University of California Press. Selections.

Study Guide for “N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman: The San in Transition”.

Kimura, Shuhei. 2013. Lessons From the Great East Japan Earthquake: The Public Use of Anthropological Knowledge. Asian Anthropology 11(1).

Bernal, Victoria. 2006. Diaspora, Cyberspace, and Political Imagination: The Eritrean Diaspora Online. Global Networks 6(2): 161-179.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 2004. Parts Unknown: Undercover Ethnography of the Organs-Trafficking Underworld. Ethnography 5, 29.Peoples, James and Garrick Bailey. Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Selections.

Recommended reading

Various selections

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

Introduction to anthropology is a story-telling course. With each story told, you enter a different culture and acquire a new perspective. As exotic and magical as these cultures might seem, you come to appreciate that they are all diverse ways of being human.

– Owen Leung, year 3 undergraduate student, Sociology Major