The main aim of the course is to
introduce the general idea of anthropological approach in social sciences.
The central concept of culture will be observed as a subject of scientific
investigation. Students will look at different aspects of culture as a
structure facilitating or confronting human in-group relations and as a
functionally integrated system of symbols fostering social cohesion or
tension. Students will contrast material and idealist cultural outlooks,
they will examine culture as a historically conditioned process
illustrating the basic theories in anthropology. The cultural change as a
result of human and technological development will be observed. The study
of dualist and multistranded development models will be followed by the
analysis of ethnographic cases from around the globe in order to out
Russia’s current situation into a cross-cultural perspective.
Course format: lectures and interactive seminars, individual
and group tasks.
Evaluation: Attendance and in-class activities – 30%;
Presentation – 15%;
Mid-term test – 15%;
Final essay – 40%.
The topics of the course:
- Basic approaches in anthropology. Biological
evolution of our species according to physical anthropology and
paleontology. Archeology: the study of material remains. Human social
behavior: ethnology. Anthropological linguistics. Social anthropology
among other social sciences; sociology and social anthropology:
opposition and merging.
- Culture as a scientific concept. Descriptive and
schematic concepts. Synchronic, diachronic and interactionist approaches
in theoretical anthropology.
- Theoretical concepts in anthropology. Evolution
theories: history and present, neo-evolutionism (Morgan, Tylor, White).
Diffusion. Structures and functions. Historical and cultural materialism
(from Engels to Foucault). Cultural relativism (Boas, Douglas, Mead).
Modernism, postmodernism, and the critique of culture. Studies of
cognitive structure: structuralism (Levi-Strausse, Levi-Bruhl) and
interpretative approach (Geertz).
- Culture and communication: communication process
as sending and receiving messages. Redundancy and tacit knowledge.
Elements of communication: signs and symbols, language and speech.
Culture and language mutual influence. Linguistic variation: distinct
languages, dialects, jargons, slang. Linguistic policy and literacy.
- Ethnicity and social stratification. The concept
of race. Ethnic identity, symbols, and relations. Stratification and
adaptive strategies. Beliefs supporting stratification. Subcultures
within stratification. Conflict vs. Stability. Different systems of
- Family and Kinship. Kinship diagrams and
categories. Principles of descent. Kin-based groups. Cultural attitudes
about sex: sexual restriction and sex as power. Marriage: as adaptive
measure, as alliance formation; number of spouses. The development
family cycle. Intergenerational conflict and family in different
- Development paradigms and culture change.
European colonial expansion. World system. Modernism vs. Tradition.
Societies in transition. From Industrial revolution to Global village.
Contemporary adaptation problems: development and underdevelopment; the
plight of indigenous people. Improving dialog and understanding by
- Current anthropological debates. Urban
anthropology, subcultures, minorities’ groups, and social movements:
celebrating diversity. Feminist anthropology. Modern folklore.
- Methods of anthropological research:
peculiarities and applications. Troubles of fieldwork. Participant
observation and "thick" description.
- Barnard A. History and Theory in Anthropology. Cambridge
University Press, 2000.
- Cole J. (ed.) Anthropology for the Nineties. NY: Macmillan,
- Howard M. Contemporary Cultural Anthropology, Harper Collins
- Nanda S. Cultural Anthropology, Belmont CA: Wardsworth,
- Spradley J., McCurdy D.(eds.) Conformity and Conflict. L.:Scott,
Foresman Publ., 1990.
- Keesing R. Cultural Anthropology: a contemporary edition. Holt,
Rinehart & Wilson, 1981. Ch.4 Culture and People: Some basic
- Kuper A. Anthropology nad Anthropologists: the Moern British
School. Routledge, 1983. Ch.6 Leach and Gluckman.
- Sperber D. On Anthropological Knowledge: three essays. Cambridge
University Press, 1982. Pp. 9-34.