Introductory Cultural Anthropology* [CRN 15321]

Discipline: Anthropology
Instructor: Johnson
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1110
End: 1230
Field Work: Day 2 | February 11, 2020 | Vietnam
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

This course surveys major themes in cultural anthropology, which seeks to theorize culture and its centrality in globalization, kinship, gender, social order, ethnicity, meaning, and development. How does anthropology theorize diverse human experiences and their intersection with history, politics, and power? How can issues in anthropological methods deepen our own personal awareness as we voyage around the world? This course follows Barbara Miller’s textbook Cultural Anthropology in a Globalizing World (2017, fourth edition) and provides additional ethnographic material on our various port stops. Among other case studies, we will study Muslim guards and guides in Jewish cemeteries in Morocco, the relationship between poverty and organ trafficking in India, reproductive policies to reduce the population in China and increase the population in Japan, changing gender roles in post-reform Communist Vietnam, and the interplay of Chinese syncretistic religion and Indian Hinduism in Penang. The course will continuously circle back to an anthropological understanding of both our port stops and our personal lives as we strive to cultivate cosmopolitan dispositions. The course will include an in-country field class, in which students will directly observe cultural practices and connect their ethnographic experience with course materials.

*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 2
Date: February 11, 2020

We will visit the War Remnants Museum to deepen our knowledge of how the American war shaped Vietnamese culture and religion. We will participate in a personalized tour focused on the effects of the war on mental health and spiritual practice. After, we will visit the tunnel system of Cu Chi and get dirty crawling through the expansive tunnel system. On the way back to the ship, we will stop at the massive and colorful Cao Dai temple to see one of the most amazing examples of religious syncretism in Southeast Asia.

Learning Objectives:
The primary objective is to consider the role of culture, colonization, war, and spirituality in shaping mental health. By visiting the War Remnants Museum, we will broaden our theoretical knowledge of the subject – drawn from Mai Lan Gustafsson’s book War and Shadows – with firsthand accounts and ethnographic observation. Students will understand the interrelatedness of mental health and cultural/spiritual systems in Vietnam. Students will gain insight into how ghost hauntings impact wellbeing and a range of other mental health issues facing the Vietnamese. By touring the extensive Cu Chi tunnels, students will directly experience a vital war locality. Last, the visit to the Cao Dai temple will emphasize course themes about the role of religion in social life.