Dr. Jacob R. Hickman

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
Brigham Young University
office: 860 SWKT
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Head Teaching Assistant

Quinn Christiansen
861 SWKT (Department of Anthropology TA Lab)

Course Description

What is anthropology? What does it mean to 'think anthropologically?'

Anthropology is the study of human beings in all times and in all places. Anthropologists study all aspects of human being in the broadest possible sense. The goal of this course is to help you develop a demonstrated capacity to 'think anthropologically.' When you understand what this means, you will be half way there. To wit, thinking anthropologically entails developing a capacity to see culture at work in a way that helps you develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be human and how humans experience the world. Culture is at work everywhere. Culture runs deep. Culture involves things that are so fundamental to your way of seeing the world that you don't even notice it is there--you just experience it as reality. Thinking anthropologically entails learning to see culture at work in order to understand human 'being' at a deeper level.

American anthropology has included the comparative study of human variation across contemporary societies and historical eras, as well as biological variation between humans and non-human primates in order to understand evolutionary origins of humanity. Through the course of the 20th century, American anthropology has taken the form of a 'four field approach' to the study of mankind. These fields include archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology (in the British system it is termed "social anthropology"). While the distinctions between these fields are certainly blurred, this framework has provided at least a partial division of labor for the discipline in the United States. This course will largely focus on social/cultural anthropology, while also situating it in relation to the other subfields.

We will cover some of the central debates in the field with regards to the concept of culture, competing theoretical perspectives (e.g. functionalism, structuralism, and post-structuralism, etc.), and methodological perspectives on which anthropologists base their assertions. Subsequently, we will discuss some of the important phenomena with which anthropologists have engaged in cross-cultural research. We will read and discuss cross-cultural (ethnographic) data on these phenomena and seek to understand competing theoretical frameworks through which anthropologists have sought to explain human cultural systems. We will round out the course with some readings and discussions in a few subfields of sociocultural anthropology, and consider why anthropological perspectives are valuable to your own field or major, outside of an anthropological specialization itself. This will include an understanding of how anthropology is being increasingly applied to a variety of fields, including business, international and community development, education, etc. I hope that you come away from this course with a genuine understanding of how 'thinking anthropologically' can benefit your own course of study, no matter what that may be.

In this course we will take a topical approach to the study of sociocultural anthropology. As opposed to using a textbook that would offer explanations of various concepts in the field, we will be engaging with anthropologists' first-hand accounts, writings, and arguments with respect to various topics. The goal of this approach is to gain a greater depth of understanding to various topics of interest to anthropologists. Lectures will seek to more broadly cover essential concepts and historical developments in the field, but daily readings will be more focused. Class periods will consist of both lecture elements as well as discussions of the focused readings. Thus, it is essential for students to read each article or passages from the required texts thoroughly before coming to class.

This course is certified to fulfill two General Education (GE) requirements: 1. Global and Cultural Awareness; and 2. Social Science. Information on the Learning Outcomes for these GE categories can be found here.

Books and Reading Materials

The following books are required for this course and need to be acquired by every student. The remainder of the required and suggested readings are individual articles or book sections and will be available electronically by clicking on the links in the reading schedule. These required books can be found on or purchased online, these books are also available through the HBLL library, including in some cases they are available digitally as an e-book:

Engelke, Matthew. (2017). How to Think Like an Anthropologist, London: Pelican Books.
(Referred to in the schedule below as "Engelke"). The library has made a digital copy of this book available here.
Yang, Kao Kalia. (2016). The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father. New York: Metropolitan Books.
(Referred to in the schedule below as "Yang")
Cassaniti, Julia. (2015). Living Buddhism: Mind, Self, and Emotion in a Thai Community. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
(Referred to in the schedule below as "Cassaniti")
Webster, Joseph. (2013). The Anthropology of Protestantism: Faith and Crisis among Scottish Fishermen. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
(Referred to in the schedule below as "Webster"). The library has made a digital copy of this book available here.

In addition to these books, all students will need to acquire a subscription to Top Hat. It is essential that you obtain your subscription at PRIOR TO the second day of lecture in the semester. Failure to do so will result in you losing credit for quizzes and reading scores reported in class up until you have obtained a Top Hat subscription and added this course within Top Hat.

Finally, all students will need to register for a free Twitter account if they do not have one already. We will use Twitter as a mode of posing questions and comments during lectures and in between classes to keep the conversation rolling. Instructions on Twitter are given below the class schedule.

Reading Schedule

Week 1 W Sep 4
Engelke: Introduction

Read the syllabus (you will report a separate reading score on the syllabus as well)
F Sep 6 Engelke: Chapter 1, “Culture”

Miner, Horace (1956). Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. American Anthropologist, 58(3), 503-507.
Week 2 M Sep 9 Culture: What is it? Shweder, Richard (2003). Introduction. In, Why do men barbecue?: Recipes for cultural psychology. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Suggested Further Reading:

Shweder, Richard (1984). Anthropology’s Romantic Rebellion Against the Enlightenment, Or There's More To Thinking Than Reason and Evidence. In Shweder and LeVine (Eds.), Culture Theory (pp. 27-66). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Sahlins, Marshall (1999). Two or Three Things that I Know about Culture. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5(3), 399-421.
W Sep 11 What Anthros Do Geertz, Clifford (1973). Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture. In C. Geertz (Ed.), The Interpretation of Cultures (pp. 3-30). New York: Basic Books.
F Sep 13 Engelke: Chapter 3, “Values”

Read The Coddling of the American Mind or listen to the radio broadcast on KUER’s RadioWest where one of the authors and someone presenting an alternative viewpoint are interviewed (or read one and listen to the other!). Consider your position on these issues of free speech, the importance of being exposed to new ideas, and the values of protecting people from potential emotional harm.
Week 3 M Sep 16 Colonialism and "Civilizing Projects" Engelke: Chapter 2, “Civilization”

Watch Vietnam, A Television History, Part 1: Roots of a War
Vietnam, A Television History, Part 2: America''s Mandarin 1954-1963
W Sep 18 Case Study: Hmong and the Refugee Experience
Yang, Read pp.1-31
F Sep 20 Ethnographic Project Research Prospectus Due

Yang, Read pp. 32-93
Week 4 M Sep 23 Yang, Read pp. 94-129
T Sep 24 UNIVERSITY FORUM Speaker: Kao Kalia Yang
Marriott Center
11:05 am

Attendance Required
W Sep 25 Yang, Read pp.133-202
F Sep 27 Miscellaneous Assignment: University Forum Write-up Due

Yang, Read pp. 203-267
Week 5 M Sep 30 Culture and Health Hickman, Jacob R. (2007). "Is it the Spirit or the Body?": Syncretism of Health Beliefs among Hmong Immigrants to Alaska. NAPA Bulletin, 27(1), 176-195.

Suggested Further Reading:

Hickman, Jacob R. (2014). Ancestral personhood and moral justification. Anthropological Theory 14(3): 317-335.
W Oct 2 Human Origins Geertz, Clifford (1965). The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man. In The interpretation of cultures (pp. 33-54). New York: Basic Books.

Hickman, Jacob R. (In Press). The Origins of Culture. In H. L. Miller (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Suggested Further Reading:

Wood, Bernard A. 2005. Human evolution: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (selections)

Fleagle, John G. (2013). Fossil Hominins, the Bipedal Primates. In J. G. Fleagle (Ed.), Primate Adaptation and Evolution (3rd ed. pp. 361-394). New York: Academic Press.

The Smithsonian Human Origins Program has a number of good resources, including an interactive timeline and a number of interesting videos and a slideshow that give further information about the human origins story and include a rich discussion of the intersection of religious and scientific perspectives on human origins.
F Oct 4 Original Affluent Society First Essay Due

Sahlins, Marshall D. (1972). The Original Affluent Society. In M. Sahlins (Ed.), Stone Age Economics (Read pp. 1-29). Chicago: Aldine Atherton, Inc.

Lappé, Frances Moore, and Joseph Collins (2010). Why Can’t People Feed Themselves? (Article 33). In Elvio Angeloni (Ed.), Annual Editions: Anthropology 03/04 (26th ed., pp. 188-192). Guildford, CT: McGraw-Hill.

Suggested Further Reading:

VSI: Chapter 6

Wallerstein, Immanuel (2006). World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. (selections)
Week 6 M Oct 7 Race Montagu, Ashley (1962). The Concept of Race. American Anthropologist, 64(5), 919-928.

Suggested Further Reading:

Gravlee, Clarence C. (2009). How Race Becomes Biology: Embodiment of Social Inequality. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 139:47-57.
W Oct 9 Nationalism Barth, Fredrik. (1969). Introduction. In F. Barth (Ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference (pp. 9-38). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
F Oct 11 Anthropology, Applied First Miscellaneous Assignment Due

McCracken, Grant David (2009). Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation. New York: Basic Books. (selections)
Week 7 M Oct 14 Culture Changes Sahlins, Marshall (1981). Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities: Structure in the Early History of the Sandwich Islands Kingdom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. (selections)
W Oct 16 World System GUEST LECTURE: Dr. Bruce Cohen (hosted by Dr. Charles Nuckolls)

Reading: Marx, Karl, with Friedrich Engels (1998 [1888]). The Communist Manifesto. New York: Penguin Books.
F Oct 18 Engelke: Chapter 4, “Value”
Week 8 M Oct 21 Case Study: Mind, Self, Emotion GUEST LECTURE: Greg Thompson and a guest

Cassaniti, Read pp. 1-45

Suggested Further Reading:

Shweder, Richard A (2003). Toward a deep cultural psychology of shame. Social Research 70(4): 1109-1130.

Rosaldo, Michele (1984). Toward an Anthropology of Self and Feeling. In Shweder and LeVine (Eds.), Culture Theory (pp. 137-157). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
W Oct 23 Cassaniti, Read pp. 46-84

Suggested Further Reading:

Cassaniti, Julia L. (2014). Moralizing Emotion: A Breakdown in Thailand. Anthropological Theory, 14(3), 280-300.
F Oct 25 Cassaniti, Read pp. 87-146

Suggested Further Reading:

Levy, Robert (1984). Emotion, Knowing and Culture. In Richard Shweder and Robert LeVine (Eds.), Culture Theory (pp. 214-237). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Week 9 M Oct 28 Cultural Psychology: The co-constitution of mind and culture Cassaniti, Read pp. 149-185
W Oct 30 Culture as Models D’Andrade, Roy (1984). Cultural Meaning Systems. In Shweder and LeVine (Eds.), Culture Theory (pp.88-119). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Suggested Further Reading:

Shweder, Richard A. (1990). Cultural Psychology - What Is It? In J.W. Stigler, R.A. Shweder, & G. Herdt (Eds.), Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development (pp. 1-43). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hickman, Jacob R. (2010). Psychology and Anthropology. In H. J. Birx (Ed.), 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook (pp. 950-959). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
F Nov 1 Kinship Engelke: Chapter 5, “Blood”

Goldstein, Melvyn C. (1987). When Brothers Share a Wife: Among Tibetans, the Good Life Relegates Many Women to Spinsterhood. Natural History, 96(3), 109-112.

Suggested Further Reading:

Sahlins, Marshall (2011). What Kinship Is (Part One). The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 17, 2-19.
Week 10 M Nov 4 Gender and Sexuality Field Journal and Interview Summaries Due

Ahmadu, Fuambai (2000). Rites and Wrongs: Excision and Power among Kono Women of Sierra Leone. In Female ‘‘Circumcision’’in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change, edited by Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund (pp. 283-312). Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Williams, Walter L. (2010). The Berdache Tradition (Article 23). In Elvio Angeloni (Ed.), Annual Editions: Anthropology 03/04 (26th ed., pp.134-139). Guilford, CT: McGraw-Hill.

Suggested Further Reading:

Abu-Lughod, Lila (1990). The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women. American Ethnologist, 17(1), 41-55.

Menon, Usha, & Richard A. Shweder (1998). The Return of the "White Man's Burden": The Moral Discourse of Anthropology and the Domestic Life of Hindu Women. In Richard Shweder (Ed.), Welcome to Middle Age! (And Other Cultural Fictions) (pp. 139-188). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Menon, Usha (2002). Neither Victim nor Rebel: Feminism and the Morality of Gender and Family Life in a Hindu Temple Town. In Richard A. Shweder, Martha Minow, and Hazel Rose Markus (Eds.), Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies (pp. 288-308). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
W Nov 6 Authority Engelke: Chapter 7, “Authority"

Galemba, Rebecca (2012). “Corn is food, not contraband”: The right to “free trade” at the Mexico–Guatemala border. American Ethnologist 39(4): 716-734.

Suggested Further Reading:

Sahlins, Marshall D. (1963). Poor Man, Rich Man, Big-Man, Chief: Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 5(3), 285-303.
F Nov 8 Second Miscellaneous Assignment Due

Engelke: Chapter 6, “Identity”

Suggested Further Reading:

Kozak, David. (2010). Shamanisms Past and Present (Article 25). In, Annual Editions: Anthropology 10/11, 33rd Edition. Elvio Angeloni, Ed. New York: McGraw Hill.
Week 11 M Nov 11 Language Gal, Susan. (2012). The Role of Language in Ethnographic Method. In R. Fardon, O. Harris, T. H. J. Marchand, M. Nuttall, C. Shore, V. Strang & R. A. Wilson (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology (Vol. 1, pp. 38-53). London: Sage.

Suggested Further Reading:

Lucy, John (1997). Linguistic Relativity. Annual Review of Anthropology, 26, 291-312.

Evans, Nicholas, & Stephen C. Levinson (2009). The Myth of Language Universals: Language Diversity and Its Importance for Cognitive Science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32, 429-448.
W Nov 13 Case Study: Religion
Webster, Read the Prologue, Introduction, pp. 47-55, and Chapter 2 (about 50 pages total)
F Nov 15 Webster, Read Chapters 3, 4
Week 12 M Nov 18 Webster, Read Chapters 5-6
W Nov 20 American Anthropological Association Meetings
F Nov 22 Webster, Read Chapter 7 and Conclusion
Week 13 M Nov 25 Case Study: The Culture of Science Second Essay Due

Engelke: Chapter 8, “Reason”
T Nov 26 Friday Instruction Day, but... NO CLASS: Have a good Thanksgiving Break!

Please start reading ahead to make it easier on yourself during the home stretch.
F Nov 27-29 Thanksgiving Holiday
Week 14 M Dec 2 Engelke: Chapter 9, “Nature” and “Conclusion”
W Dec 4 Latour, Bruno. (2010). On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods. Durham: Duke University Press. (Select pages)
Th Dec 5 Ethnographic Project Final Analysis Due
F Dec 6 The ‘Authority’ of Science As you listen to and read this material (please do it in that order), consider the question: How do we decide where authoritative knowledge comes from? What assumptions do the podcasters make about 'science' versus other ways of knowing? How might that relate to the ways you believe in something that may not be particularly 'scientific'? You do not need to listen to the whole podcast. You can stop after 42 minutes.

The Science of Racism: Radiolab's Treatment of Hmong Experience by Kao Kalia Yang

Radiolab Episode:

Week 15 M Dec 9 Naturalism and Theism Third Miscellaneous Assignment Due

Workshop Packet: The Core Features of Naturalism and Some Theistic Alternatives
W Dec 11 Conclusion Shweder, Richard (1991). Post-Nietzschean Anthropology: The Idea of Multiple Objective Worlds. In R.A. Shweder (Ed.), Thinking Through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology (pp. 27-72). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Read pp. 27-34, 38, 42-49, 54-60, 64-67. If you opt to read the entire essay thoroughly, you can give yourself a '7' for a reading score (email your TA to enter the score).

Twitter in the classroom (and beyond)

We want to make this course as interactive and personal as possible, despite its large size. To this end, we will use Twitter as a mode of communication between students, TAs, and the professor. Students are encouraged to post questions and comments during the lecture and in between lectures while doing the reading using the handle @byuanthro101. During lectures, TAs will assist Dr. Hickman in consolidating and responding to comments and questions on the Twitter feed, and we will also make an effort to respond to comments and questions posed in between classes (e.g., while students are reading the material). We will try to respond as much as possible in lecture and on the Twitter feed itself, where appropriate, but Twitter also provides a forum to expand the in-class discussion and allows the professor to respond to questions that might otherwise be lost in the crowd. If you have comments to contribute or questions you would like to ask and we do not get to you in class, please consider Tweeting your thoughts or questions.

Grade Distribution

Final grades will consist of (1) reading self-reports and reading quiz scores, (2) two short papers, (3) an ethnogrpahic project, (4) three miscellaneous assignments, and (5) a final exam

Assignment Pct of Final Grade
1. Reading Self-Report and Quiz Scores 25
2. Two Short Papers 30
3. Ethnographic Project 20
4. Miscellaneous Assignments 5
5. Final Exam 20

A full description of the assignments and grading procedures for this course along with directions for submission for each assignment can be found on the Assignments Page of this syllabus (click here or on the "Assign" link at the top of this page).

University Policies

Please familiarize yourself with these policies, which will be enforced in this course.

Honor Code

In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards. Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment. It is the university's expectation, and my own expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards. Please call the Honor Code Office at 422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.

Sexual Harassment

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education and pertains to admissions, academic and athletic programs, and university-sponsored activities. Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment of students by university employees, other students, and visitors to campus. If you encounter sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please talk to your professor or contact one of the following: the Title IX Coordinator at 801-422-2130; the Honor Code Office at 801-422-2847; the Equal Employment Office at 801-422-5895; or Ethics Point at, or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours).

Student Disability

Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (UAC), 2170 WSC or 422-2767. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified, documented disabilities. The UAC can also assess students for learning, attention, and emotional concerns. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures by contacting the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895, D-285 ASB.

Academic Honesty

The first injunction of the Honor Code is the call to "be honest." Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work, but also to build character. "President David O. McKay taught that character is the highest aim of education" (The Aims of a BYU Education, p.6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim. BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct.


Intentional plagiarism is a form of intellectual theft that violates widely recognized principles of academic integrity as well as the Honor Code. Such plagiarism may subject the student to appropriate disciplinary action administered through the university Honor Code Office, in addition to academic sanctions that may be applied by an instructor. Inadvertent plagiarism, which may not be a violation of the Honor Code, is nevertheless a form of intellectual carelessness that is unacceptable in the academic community. Plagiarism of any kind is completely contrary to the established practices of higher education where all members of the university are expected to acknowledge the original intellectual work of others that is included in their own work. In some cases, plagiarism may also involve violations of copyright law. Intentional Plagiarism-Intentional plagiarism is the deliberate act of representing the words, ideas, or data of another as one's own without providing proper attribution to the author through quotation, reference, or footnote. Inadvertent Plagiarism-Inadvertent plagiarism involves the inappropriate, but non-deliberate, use of another's words, ideas, or data without proper attribution. Inadvertent plagiarism usually results from an ignorant failure to follow established rules for documenting sources or from simply not being sufficiently careful in research and writing. Although not a violation of the Honor Code, inadvertent plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct for which an instructor can impose appropriate academic sanctions. Students who are in doubt as to whether they are providing proper attribution have the responsibility to consult with their instructor and obtain guidance. Examples of plagiarism include: Direct Plagiarism-The verbatim copying of an original source without acknowledging the source. Paraphrased Plagiarism-The paraphrasing, without acknowledgement, of ideas from another that the reader might mistake for the author's own. Plagiarism Mosaic-The borrowing of words, ideas, or data from an original source and blending this original material with one's own without acknowledging the source. Insufficient Acknowledgement-The partial or incomplete attribution of words, ideas, or data from an original source. Plagiarism may occur with respect to unpublished as well as published material. Copying another student's work and submitting it as one's own individual work without proper attribution is a serious form of plagiarism.

"Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun."

Clifford Geertz

The Interpretation of Cultures