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Peoples of the World

ANTH 220  -  FALL 2012 

Section 1

 

Kwakiutl Hamatsa Members,
Vancouver Island, ca. 1900

Welcome to "Peoples of the World."  I am your instructor, Rodney Frey.  My office is in Phinney Hall, Rm. 116, with office hours immediately following class sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays or by appointment. You can contact me at:   Voice: 885-6268    E-mail: rfrey@uidaho.edu   My Home Page: www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~rfrey

Your Graduate Teaching Assistant is James Pearson.  His office is in the top floor of Phinney Hall.   E-mail for an appointment.  You can contact him at:   E-mail: pear3216@vandals.uidaho.edu

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Sami family, northern Scandinavia, ca. 1900 
(high resolution image)

Course Description: This course will introduce you to the peoples of the world, from the Pacific Islands, Asia and Australia to the Americas, from the Arctic regions and Europe to Africa.  The human experience has always been characterized by its rich diversity of expression. Various peoples have sought in their own unique yet differing ways to bring meaning to their lives and define their relationship with each other and the world about them. This course will explore some of the ways peoples have spun their particular stories of themselves.  Among the topics we will consider are: 1. cultural variation and differing epistemologies, as exemplified in scientific ways of knowing as expressed in the story of human evolution, and in mythic and ritual ways of knowing as expressed in various stories of creation; 2. the nature and role of aesthetic and religious expression; 3. rites of passage, pilgrimage, and identity formation; 4. landscape, gatherer-hunter ecological patterns, the original affluent society, plant and animal domestication, capitalism, and the culture of consumption; 5. family, kinship and marriage, love, and the rise of individualism; and 6. the nature of intra and inter-cultural dynamics as expressed in creativity, innovation, assimilation, and war.  Throughout our discussion we will be contrasting the similarities and differences between "Indigenous" and "Euro-American" cultures and ways of knowing the world.

From an ethnographic perspective and with the "huckleberrying method," we can more effectively explore and interpret the diverse cultural orientations which make up our world. In turn, with this knowledge and appreciation of the rich diversity of human expressions, anthropology can facilitate better communications and cooperation among varied cultural communities, and thwart the seeds of intolerance and prejudice.  By juxtaposing that which may seem overtly distinct along side that which is immediate but often veiled and elusive, our own cultural orientation becomes that much clearer.  We can more fully understand our own cultural, historic and biological foundations.  With such knowledge we can better celebrate or critically re-evaluate who we are and become accountable for our actions.  And finally, anthropology seeks to apply its perspective and knowledge base in the service of human aspirations and struggles.  Such applications can include improving the quality and delivery of health care and education, and addressing and resolving environmental, ethnic, political and sectarian conflicts.  While we can not hope to address the complex answers to the great challenges of our age relating to global terrorism, global inequality, and global warming, we can strive in this course to better inform ourselves on many of their root causes.

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