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79-209 Theory and Practice in Anthropology
How has anthropology changed over its relatively short lifetime? This course will examine the major trends and schools of thought in anthropology in the twentieth century, focusing on how theory shapes the questions anthropologists ask as well as their fieldwork methods. Students will learn to "find" theory within ethnographic writing, both by analyzing the work of notable anthropologists, and by experimenting with various theoretical orientations in their own analysis of ethnographic data. After first examining some of the 19th century influences on the emerging field of social science, we will explore the paths anthropology took in the early and mid-twentieth century, focusing on how culture and social structure were understood and analyzed at this time. Next, we will turn to issues of power, practice, and history, and the influence of new theoretical approaches on anthropological conceptualizations of culture. Finally, we will explore how more recent theoretical trends, including feminist and post-modern contributions, have shaped contemporary anthropology. The course will emphasize that, though theory has developed in recognizable ways throughout anthropology's history, this development has not been linear. To show how older theoretical approaches resurface in more recent anthropological work, readings will pair classic works in the various theoretical schools with more contemporary reworkings of those same theoretical orientations.
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