In this course we examine the concepts, methods, and theories that anthropologists use to study and interpret how notions of cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual, and national difference are generated, sustained, contested, and transformed. We use ethnographies and films to explore the shared meanings and varied ways of living that anthropologists refer to as “culture,” and to question commonsense and our own understandings of human nature. Students will use course materials and their experiences in the countries visited during the Semester at Sea voyage to practice ethnographic fieldwork methods, try out a variety of analytical approaches to understanding how people live in the world, and explore various styles of ethnographic writing and other forms of representation.
Field WorkCountry: India
Day: 1 - Saturday, 27 February
Food and clothing, art and expressive culture provide clues to peoples’ identities as members of a cultural group, a region, a nation. They also enable us to trace historical interactions and interrelationships. This field lab provides insights into some aspects of Kerala culture, historically and contemporarily, through food, art, expressive culture, and conversational exchange. We begin with a trip to a local home, where we will prepare (and eat) a version of a traditional Kerala meal. Throughout this experience, students will be encouraged to consider food as something that is locally, regionally, and globally sourced, as well as something with symbolic import, marking identity, establishing categories of “taste,” status, and sensibility, for example. We follow this experience with an evening program where we will learn about local art forms, including a traditional South Indian dance from Kerala, and will have the opportunity to meet other students from universities in Kerala and people from different walks of Kerala life.
1. To consider historical and contemporary food practices and cuisine while making a Kerala meal.
2. To explore other aspects of Kerala culture through local art forms and in conversation with other students.
3. To apply anthropological theories about the relation between ethnic, cultural, regional, and national identity and art, expressive culture, and food.