Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

ANTH 102 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Summer 2015 - Session II

Anth 102: Intro to Cultural Anthropology

John Felice Rome Center

Summer Session II


Dr. Kathleen M. Adams

Department of Anthropology

Loyola Univ. Chicago






Course Description: 

What do human groups have in common and how do we differ? How do our lifestyles, beliefs, activities and assumptions about the world contrast with those of members of other societies? This course offers an introduction to the study of living peoples and societies, known as cultural anthropology.  This course 1) introduces some of the ideas and methodologies central to cultural anthropology and 2) explores the “anthropological perspective” (as a way of understanding the logic of all life-ways, including our own). Questions examined in this class include: What do we mean by “culture”? How do anthropologists conduct research on human societies (here we’ll especially draw on examples from anthropologists studying Italy)?  How are various aspects of social organization (religion, politics, kinship, arts, economy etc) interconnected? How are systems of inequality (gender, class, caste, ethnicity) culturally-shaped and enacted? What is the role of language in the construction of social worlds? How can anthropology be applied to address contemporary world problems such as inequality and prejudices? Although this course draws on examples and case studies from a variety of societies around the world to address these questions, we will also take advantage of our Rome location and use Rome and Italy as our cultural laboratory, with site visits and discussions about contemporary social issues in Italy.



Learning Objectives:

By the end of the semester you will be expect to achieve:

     -Knowledge of how cultural anthropologists research and analyze human social practices.

     -Appreciation of the range of human possibilities for sociopolitical organization, identity

(family,gender,ethnic etc) formation, economic activities, & other cultural characteristics.

     -Grasp of the core concept of cultural relativism and the ability to discern ethnocentrism and

the ability to apply these concepts to new situations encountered outside the classroom.

     -Enhanced awareness of the ethical dimensions of research involving human beings.

     -Understanding of how the concept of culture is used, as well as critiqued by anthropologists.



Loyola University Chicago’s Core Curriculum:

This course satisfies LUC’s Tier 2 Societal and Cultural Knowledge requirement    Details concerning how this course engages with core requirements are available at LUC.edu/core/soccultknowcoursesub-first.shtml.



Required Texts:


1) Monaghan & Just. Social & Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford. 2000.

2) Belmonte, T. The Broken Fountain: 25th Anniversary Edition. 2005, Columbia University Press. (a classic ethnography about poverty in Naples).

5) Additional articles on class Sakai site.


On-site Visit/Fieldtrip:


Our class includes at least one fieldtrip to various immigrant-related sites in Rome (including an immigrant aid society and migration museum). These sites address class themes pertaining to cultural/religious/ethnic diversity, as well as the broader issue of how new national loyalties are culturally crafted. There will be minor expenses associated with the fieldtrip. In addition to roundtrip bus fare to and from these sites, some of the sites will require an admission fee (for example the Ghetto Museum entrance is approximately 12 euros and the additional site visit under consideration will also entail an entrance fee. A standard, one-way (75 minutes) bus ticket costs 1.50 Euros, or about $ 1.75.  To be safe, students should anticipate and set aside a tentative fieldtrip budget of approximately 25 Euros (currently approximately $28-$30).


Course Requirements and Grading:


Your grade will be comprised of three exams (25% each), a short paper (15%), and class participation (10%). Exams will cover the assigned readings and class lectures. You will receive detailed instructions on the paper assignment at the start of class.  

3 non-cumulative exams (25% each)……………………………………75% (150 points total)

1 four-page paper …………………………………………………………15% (30 points)

Class participation…………………………………………………………10% (20 points)


Grade Calculation:


Percentages and

Point Ranges

B+ = 87–89.9%

     (= 174-179.9 points)

C+ = 77–79.9%

     (= 154-159.9 points)

D+ = 67–69.9%

     (= 134-139.9 points)

A = 93-100%

   (= 186-200 points)

B = 83–86.9%

    (= 166-173.9 points)

C = 73–76.9%

   (= 146-153.9 points)

D = 60–66.9%

    (= 120-133.9 points)

A- = 90–92.9%

     (= 180-185.9 points)

B- = 80–82.9%

     (= 160 – 165.9 points)

C- = 70–72.9 %

    (= 140-145.9 points)

F < 60%

     (119.9 points & below)



Additional information on class requirements and expectations:


1. Exams. Exams consist of a mixture of short essay questions, definitions, fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice and matching questions. Exams are NOT cumulative. Make-up exams will not be administered without a legitimate written excuse (e.g. documentation from a doctor of serious illness or legitimate family emergency that requires you to return to the USA early).


2. Ethnography Paper: This course offers you the chance to do your own ethnographic research. For this class you will either conduct participant observation research at a local site, or you will conduct a research interview.  You are to write a 4 page paper on your choice of one of the following topics:

     -Paper analyzing the cultural space in an Italian grocery store

     -Paper analyzing cultural dynamics at a local coffee house

     -With permission from the instructor, you may opt to do your paper on another theme related

to Italian cultural dynamics or based on your own mini-field research.

Your paper must be uploaded on Turnitin (accessible via Sakai) prior to submitting hard copies in class. We will discuss findings in class on the paper due date. Additional details will be provided in class. Please note that late papers will receive 1 grade deduction per day late (including weekends).


3. Participation: This portion of your grade is based on both attendance and engagement in the class (e.g. thoughtful contributions to class discussions, etc). Periodically, we may do brief in-class written responses to the assigned readings, which may contribute to participation points.


Extra Credit: I understand that despite the best of intentions, life can sometimes become unexpectedly complicated. There will be one opportunity to get up to 2 extra credit points. There are two avenues for gaining these extra credit points. Each option entails submitting a typed 2 page paper (hard copy to me and a second copy uploaded to Turn-It-In). Each of these is worth one point. No extra credit assignments may be submitted after the Monday of the last week of classes. Extra credit options are listed below:

1) News and Culture: Clip a newspaper item and write a response to it, examining how at least three key anthropological concepts from class can help us better understand the underlying dynamics involved in the news story.

2) Arts and Culture: See a foreign film/play, watch a foreign dance troupe, or visit an ethnographic museum exhibit. Do a little background research on the culture from which the performance/display/film derives. Write a response to it that incorporates your background information and draws on anthropological concepts from class wherever possible.


How to Succeed in this Class:


1) Attendance AND participation in discussions: These are essential for success in this class. To do well, you should come to class prepared to contribute to discussions.


2) Timeliness: Please arrive on time. Routine late arrival or early departure is not only disruptive but will also impact your ability to gain important information regarding tests and assignments that is often announced at the start and end of class.


3) Class Ground Rules: To spare your classmates and your professor from distractions, I ask that you please:

-Turn off your mobile phone & other electronic equipment before class begins.

-Please see me if you have special needs that require use of a laptop during class.


4) Academic integrity: Plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the assignment (no exceptions) and possibly the class.  For more information see the full university policy here: http://www.luc.edu/academics/catalog/undergrad/reg_academicintegrity.shtml









Themes: Intro to key anthropological concepts

(anthropology’s subfields, holism, ethnocentrism, cultural relativism, ethnography, naïve realism, features of culture etc.)




(Themes: Ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation, ethics, etic and emic, early anth & the rise of fieldwork as methodology, Boas, Malinowski, contemp. approaches)



(Themes: The comparative approach, cultural constructions of the “natural” world: ideas about personhood, life and death, socialization/childhood and schooling to shape adults in three different societies, Fieldwork examples)




(Primate communication, non-verbal communication, language, thought & reality/Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, gender and conversational style, code-switching, ethnicity, language and power.)




Post Exam: CRAFTING CITIZENS AND NATIONS (in prep for fieldtrip)


FIELD TRIP DAY (TENTATIVE DESTINATIONS: IMMIGRATION MUSEUM/IMMIGRANT CENTER & POSSIBLY THE JEWISH GHETTO [Topics addressed via field trip: Social hierarchy; Ethnic relations and nationalism; migration; religion & ritual]



A. GENDER AND SEX (cultural constructions of gender)

B. FORGING SOCIAL TIES:  THE FAMILY, MARRIAGE, KINSHIP  (Themes: Gender identities and, descent, kin groups, the family cross-culturally, marriage patterns cross-culturally, Italian family dynamics)










Papers due