Marriage and Family Across Cultures and Histories

Discipline: Anthropology
Instructor: Stockard
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 0925
End: 1040
Field Work: Day 1 - Cochin - 9 March | India
Prerequisites: An introductory sociology or anthropology course. Download Syllabus

This anthropology course offers students the opportunity to explore cross-cultural similarities and differences in marriage and family practices. Students will have the opportunity to focus in-depth on several cultural cases, including example from major ports of call on our trip itinerary. For each case, we will use anthropological perspectives in order to analyze how distinctive marriage, family, and kinship practices reflect different understandings about the roles of men and women in society.

For each cultural case, we will pose several questions, including these: Why is it important to understand “kinship” in each society in order to understand marriage and family practices and meanings? What is the role of marriage in reproducing family and kinship — and society, too? In different societies, how are family practices and ideologies linked to the larger economy and national politics and policies? For comparative purposes, the cross-cultural format of this class will also include a focus on European and U.S. marriage and family practices.

Field Work

Country: India
Day: 1 - Cochin - 9 March

One focus of the course is change in both marriage and non-marriage marriage practices in India during the 20th and early 21st centuries, in different ethnic groups as well as in different castes.  In the Field Lab for our course, students will visit the former residence and palace of a local maharaja at Tripunithura (Kochin).  There we will learn about the generations of family that lived, married, and established families in this residence.  Of special interest to us will be the marriage, non-marriage, and extended family practices of the late maharajas who resided at Tripunithura.  We will compare and contrast these practices of recent historical elites with contemporary practices, among elites and members of other classes and castes.   Prior to this Lab, course readings will focus not only on change in customary marriage practices, but also on changing marriage laws and rights of spouses. Academic Objectives: 1.  To learn how to compare and contrast cultural practices in one region over time 2.  To understand how to assess both change and continuity in marriage, residence, and family practices in different societies 3.  To build knowledge about the methods anthropologists use to study marriage and family across time – and across cultures, too