This class asks students to think about two fundamental questions: 1) What does it mean to be human? and 2) Is inequality inevitable? We will utilize the anthropological “toolkit” to explore culture, power, and identity in the 21st Century. The class will provide students with the theoretical framework to understand and appreciate the tremendous cultural, social and linguistic diversity of human culture (without falling prey to “exotification”) as well as cross-cultural universals of human behavior. Using ethnography, films, lectures, and the first-hand experiences of students in every port of call, students will utilize ethnology, the unique anthropological approach to cross-cultural comparison. We will explore the importance of culture and cultural norms of behavior in the every-day lives of all humans (including students’ own culture) by conducting ethnographic observations both on and off the ship. The field component of the course will focus specifically on stratification and the lived experience of social inequality in the 21st Century. A variety of methodologies will be utilized to provide a structured way for all participants to reflect on their diverse field experience in the context of the larger course themes.
Field WorkCountry: Japan
Date: January 24, 2019
Examine the “daily life” of contemporary Japan through the lens of children, teens, and elders. Visit an elementary school to observe the “infrastructure of childhood,” and interact with college students to learn more about their generational perspective.
1. To look carefully at how culture is transmitted and experienced in 21st Century Japan.
2. To examine beliefs and practices about childhood, adolescence, and old age in 2018.
3. To explore questions such as:
o why don’t Japanese children throw tantrums?
o Why do teenagers in Japan dress the way they do?
o What is life like for seniors in a society with deep respect for elders?