Introduction to Cultural Anthropology has two main goals, to give students an understanding of human sociocultural diversity, as well as provide a foundation for higher-level courses in anthropology. Cultural anthropology explores how human societies vary around the world and through the ages, attempting to understand the reasons for why cultures developed in similar or different ways. More recently, cultural anthropology has also been concerned with how power relations both within and between societies are a fundamental part of this diversity. Power works through more than direct economic and “political” means, its effects are also realized through symbolic representations of the differences between individuals, groups, and societies. During our voyage, we will not only have the opportunity to meet some traditional societies first-hand, but we will also have the opportunity to learn how they have adapted to the legacy of colonialism and the expanding capitalist world economy. To these aims, we will not only take advantage of our different port destinations to learn about how the cultures we meet vary, but how broader processes of cultural adaptation influence that diversity.
Field WorkCountry: Brazil
Date: November 1, 2016
The day begins with a morning visit to the “MAFRO”, the Afro-Brazilian Museum at the Centre for African and Oriental Studies, Federal University of Bahia. Here, students will find interpretive display of art and artifacts related to the distinctive local Candomble religion. After lunch, a scheduled visit to an active Candomble temple will be arranged, during which students will have the opportunity to pose questions to a priest/ess. The centerpiece of the day will be a two-hour participatory workshop on Candomble dance and movement, working with local expert Rosangela Silvestre. Preparatory class discussion will center around the fusing of African, Mediterranean, and indigenous elements in this religion, and will relate to class readings about cultural contact and change. Learning objectives:
- Learn about the role of religious behavior and ritual in daily life through a form of popular religion that is outside the everyday experience of most SAS students.
- Recognize the present-day consequences of a significant historical episode of massive intercultural contact, as well as the processes by which culture patterns persist, change, fuse, and develop into new and novel forms.
- Appreciate the variety of sensory modalities that can be used for cultural-expression.