Cultural Anthropology

***This course counts toward the SLU Global Citizenship core requirement***


“This course has changed the way I think about things because I now find myself using [anthropology] in everyday life.”

“Cultural Anthropology has contributed so much! It has taught me a lot about our world and it has made me see things so differently and through a brighter, more educated perspective. I feel smarter and more thoughtful. I have recommended this class to so many people!”

“This course has inspired me to pursue anthropology.”

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Cultural anthropology provides tools to understand the diversity of social life and human experience around the world. Cultural anthropologists study meaning making and ways of life in every site imaginable, in order to document and make sense of differences in things like: family life, food and eating, religious practice, artistic performance, politics, violence, globalization, and sickness and healing. Cultural anthropology is a unique in the social sciences because it takes a holistic approach to social life, employs cross-cultural analyses, and relies on immersive, long-term ethnographic research (“fieldwork”).

In this course, students learn about the central insights, analytic tools, and practices of cultural anthropology. Goals include developing a working knowledge of concepts like culture, ethnocentrism, and cultural relativism, and gaining familiarity with anthropological approaches to exchange, production and economics, domestic life, religion, rituals and magic, social inequalities, medicine, and globalization. Students learn about the role of culture in shaping human societies and how to make sense of difference, diversity, and conflict. Students also practice applying anthropological knowledge to a broad range of sites and practices, not only in “exotic” places, but also in their own lives. In addition, students in this course gain exposure to the foundational research methodology of cultural anthropology, ethnographic fieldwork, which is becoming more widely used inside and outside academic settings.