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Ant 200: Short Description

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Anthropology 200: History of Anthropology
[Winter 2009, Th. 3:10-6:00;CRN 53807; 224 Young Hall]

Prof. Bruce Winterhalder
Anthropology, and Graduate Group in Ecology
(218 Young Hall; 754-4770;

Short Description

We will examine the history of socio-cultural anthropology theory, from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, reading original texts and interpretations. We begin with Marvin Harris’ 1968 classic, The Rise of Anthropological Theory. Although 40 years old, this book has never been superseded; it remains as quirky, biased and authoritative as was its author. We will then read from four original, monograph-length works by Darwin, Engels, Boas and Polanyi. All are essential to the development of our field. Each figures prominently in its present configuration and issues. Other individuals could have been chosen and we will not completely neglect the most important of the missing: Marx. Each of us will read and report on a more recent volume focused on the interpretation of the history of Anthropology. 

The seminar is open to graduate students; advanced undergraduates in Anthropology or a related social science may register by permission. It does not presume previous Anthropology training. It should be of interest to any student in the subfields of economic, ecological, social or archaeological anthropology, broadly speaking. The central texts are:

Boas, Franz. 1995 [1940]. Race, Language and Culture. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Darwin, Charles. 1997 [1871-72]. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Engels, Frederick. 1972 [1884]. The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. New York, NY: International Publishers.

Harris, Marvin. 2001 [1968]. The Rise of Anthropological Theory. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Polanyi, Karl. 2001 [1944]. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

The "Choose One" list of readings will be:

Hiatt, L. R. 1996. Arguments About Aborigines: Australia and the Evolution of Social Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kuper, Adam. 1988. The Invention of Primitive Society: Transformations of an Illusion. New York: Routledge.

Layton, Robert. 1997. An Introduction to Theory in Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Patterson, Thomas. 2004. Marx’s Ghost: Conversations with Archaeologists. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

This class will meet Thursday, from 3:10PM to 6:00PM. For further information please contact:

Bruce Winterhalder (754-4770; or,