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: Mauritius
Date: March 11, 2018
In this field class, students will have the chance to see two colonial sites and one museum about the colonial and contemporary sugar economy. They will observe a working archaeological excavation of a sugar mill, and will see artifacts recovered through that excavation. They will also visit one of the most important colonial botanical garden in the Indian Ocean. They will have the chance to explore how Mauritius portrays their own colonial past and how it relates to current ideas of the nation and different groups within it.
- To learn about Mauritius’ colonial past and about the plantation economy in particular.
- To compare archeological and anthropological research on sugar in Mauritius.
- To examine critically different representations of the past and the work these representations do in the present.