This course is an introduction to the field of cultural anthropology. It has two main goals: first, to give you an understanding of anthropological approaches to human sociocultural diversity, and second, to provide a foundation for higher level courses in anthropology. This course involves substantial writing in order to improve both your comprehension of course content and your proficiency in writing.
Cultural anthropology concerns itself with the range and variation of human experiences, practices, and worldviews across time and space, and with the implications of this variation for those experiences, practices, worldviews that may seem natural, taken-for-granted, or true. This double movement of observing what seems different and reflecting on what seems obvious or everyday is sometimes called “making the strange familiar and the familiar strange” and we will encounter it in many ways in the course. Course readings will focus on ethnographies (books or articles based on anthropological fieldwork) of places visited in the Semester at Sea Spring 2018 voyage. The course will include an in-country field class, in which students will learn about anthropological methods, make ethnographic observations, and reflect on these afterwards.
Field WorkCountry: Vietnam
Date: February 9, 2017
All societies have some gendered division of labor, but the specific of that division vary across time and space. Under conditions of cultural change, these divisions of labor can be upheld, challenged, or renegotiated. In this field class, students will visit two sites where women work in Ho Chi Minh City – the Bến Thành market, and the NGO Mekong Plus which supports local development in the Mekong Delta and which runs the social enterprise Mekong Quilts focused on bringing work opportunities and access to markets to women from rural villages. Students will observe and have the opportunity to discuss these two sites as different kinds of gendered work.
1. Students will observe and interact with Vietnamese women in Bến Thành market and as part of Mekong Plus.
2. Students will observe and document the gendered organization of Bến Thành market and if possible, production of quilts at Mekong Plus
3. Students will hear about challenges and opportunities for women in contemporary Vietnam in both urban and rural contexts.