Cultural anthropology explores the nexus of society, culture, and human diversity, with an emphasis on how individuals and communities are shaped by social, political, and economic forces. This course introduces students to the different theories and methodologies that anthropologists use to study societies and their cultures. The ports will provide excellent opportunities to see cultural practices at work, and provide a context in which to examine such topics as kinship, religion and ritual, illness and healing, and globalization.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
This field lab provides insights into the Xhosa people, their culture and especially their cuisine. One of they key foci of our class include ethnic/cultural identity and the cultural meaning of food. This field lab will provide students with a cross-cultural experience of people and their food by traveling to Gugulethu Township, where Xhosa people live. Xhosa refers to both a cultural group of people as well as the language (isiXhosa) spoken by this people group. There are currently approximately eight million people in South Africa who are culturally identified as Xhosa. The Xhosa people have a rich cultural history that predates the arrival of the Dutch in the 1600s. The staple food of the Xhosa people is umngqusho made from cracked maize and beans. Maize meal 'pap' is also very popular. There are many different kinds of vegetable dishes that feature alongside the staples and various meat dishes are also often prepared. Food is traditionally prepared by women in the Xhosa culture. At Gugulethu Township, students will meet local 'mamas' - women who will teach you about traditional Xhosa cuisine. The mamas will show you the various ingredients important in Xhosa cuisine and where necessary they'll explain the cultural significance of certain foods. Students will have an opportunity to discuss with the mamas their history, the effect of Europeans on their food, what they believe is food that is important to their ethnic identity, food they grow themselves verses food that is imported, and the importance of global food markets on their diet. You will then partake in some traditional cooking of your own under the supervision of the mamas. Of course, you will be eating your own traditionally prepared Xhosa dishes for lunch.