Anthropological Theory

“This class has really contributed to my understanding of how anthropologists make sense of what they see in their research and how to create an ethnographic narrative through the use of anthropological theories. I’m going to miss the class discussions!”

“I appreciate her constructive criticism on papers and in class – she has a way of making you feel that you are understanding difficult material and then makes you think even deeper!”

“It taught me how to read, take apart, and analyze hard texts without using other sources.”

“Can’t wait to apply to practical, real-life situations.”

– Anonymous course evaluations


This course reviews the major theoretical approaches that make anthropology unique among the social sciences. These approaches include evolution, functionalism, structuralism, interpretive and symbolic anthropology, political economy, and postmodernism. The course is organized chronologically in order to analyze the emergence and development of theories in their broader social, historical, and theoretical contexts. We focus on major figures in the field and specific schools of thought in order to better understand, compare, and critique the core theoretical orientations that undergird contemporary anthropological research. Because this is a writing intensive course, students will practice different kinds of writing across the semester to improve their fluency with written communication and learn to use writing as a tool for critical thinking.


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