Bilinda Straight                                                                              

ANTH 1200

Office: Moore Hall 1020

Office Hours: Mondays noon - 2 & by appointment


web page:



Peoples of the World


World Map 

Anthropology is a discipline about the study of humanity in all its diversity. Humans are the most adaptable animals on the planet, and throughout human history, they have adapted to their diverse and changing environments in creative and sometimes surprising ways. Probably the most important way that humans have adapted is through the learned patterns, practices, and full range of behaviors that comprise culture.  Anthropology takes a broad, holistic perspective to study the whole of what it means to be human:  history, biology, society, and culture.  This course focuses on the sub-field of anthropology concerned with the study of contemporary cultures and cultures in historical context. In this course, you will be exposed to a variety of cultures throughout the world, in order to ask questions like: What do humans have in common with each other? In what ways do we differ? What is gender? Marriage? How do various aspects of society--for example, religious belief, marriage, gender, and economy inter-relate? What do these aspects of society mean to us?  As we examine these and other questions, we will also examine questions that have particular relevance for us in contemporary global society.

In Peoples of the World, we will occasionally discuss topics that are considered by some to contain controversial and mature content. These topics may elicit a heightened emotional tension among some students. It is expected that in Anthropology 1200 your conduct will be consistent with that of a professional person. This means that courtesy, respect, fairness and honesty should be shown to students, faculty members, any guests in the classroom, as well as the support staff who are contributing to the educational experience of this course. Likewise, as a student, you should expect the faculty and staff to treat you with fairness and respect.

Part of good conduct is the avoidance of practices that would be considered academic misconduct. Thus, as a student, please make yourself aware of and understand the policies and procedures regarding ‘Academic Integrity.’ You are reminded that ‘Academic Integrity’ is based on five values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Violations of ‘Academic Integrity’ include: cheating; plagiarism; misuse of academic resources; falsification; facilitating academic dishonesty. Consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic integrity prior to the submission of an assignment or test.


Course Readings


An iClicker and the following required books are available for purchase at the WMU Bookstore:


Jonina Einarsottir. 2004. Tired of Weeping: Mother Love, Child Death, and Poverty in Guinea-Bissau. Second Edition. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Serena Nanda  1999. Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijras of India. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.


About the Course

This course emphasizes learning and your active participation in the learning process. To meet that goal, and the related goals of stimulating critical thinking and appreciation for human diversity, the class integrates readings, films, lectures, active discussions, and a variety of activities.


Readings, lectures, recitation discussions and activities, and films will be thematically related. However, the relationship will not be one characterized by lectures duplicating or exhaustively explaining readings. Lectures and discussions are instead, meant to complement the readings, to enhance your learning experience. Questions are welcome at any time, in recitation section or in lecture, but at no time will the instructors: (1) Summarize what you should have read; (2) Use an excessive amount of valuable learning time to review for quizzes.


You must be prepared for every class. If you come to class unprepared, it will be noticeable, particularly when activities require your active participation. For your own benefit as well as everyone else’s, attendance will be taken (see grading, below) at all recitations sections and lectures.



This course takes active advantage of elearning. You will access the syllabus through elearning, find links related to Bilinda Straight’s website, and other materials related to the course.




Your presence and participation are essential to the quality of the experience for others as well as yourself. Your attendance grades will be based on the number of days you are absent from recitation section or lecture, calculated as points missed on a one-hundred percent scale. NO CLASSWORK CAN BE MADE UP. However and instead -- for those life happenings that come up unexpectedly -- two absences will be dropped from your recitation/lab attendance grade; 2 quiz grades will be dropped from your recitation/lab quiz grade; and 3 iClicker bonus points will be awarded to everyone. Except for the iClicker bonus points, NO iCLICKER EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE. DO NOT FORGET YOUR iCLICKER OR FUNCTIONING BATTERIES.


Recitation/Lab Quizzes (30% of grade):

Weekly quizzes of three questions each will test material from lectures and particularly material you are responsible for reading from the lectures and reading assignments. There are no exams. No quizzes can be made up.

i-Clicker (40% of grade):

This class requires an i-clicker. YOU MUST BRING YOUR iCLICKER TO EVERY LECTURE AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS OPERATION, INCLUDING FUNCTIONING BATTERIES). NO EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE. At most lectures, a few to several questions pertaining to modules and readings will be asked. You must answer 75% of the questions in order to receive that day’s participation point. Some questions will be no credit opinion questions (that still count towards participation) while others will have a correct answer worth ¼ point. Your overall lecture attendance/assignment/quiz grade will be calculated by dividing the number of points you earned by the number of points possible. Everyone will be given three bonus points for those life events no one can control.


Grade Scale for Final Grades


97-100                 A+


94-96                   A


87-93                   BA


84-86                   B


77-83                   CB


74-76                   C


67-73                   DC


60-66                   D


below 60              E



Course Schedule



Module 1: Wednesday, September 4


Introduction to course plan and requirements. Presentation on Who Wants to Hire an Anthropologist?


First Recitation Section Meetings September 4-6


       Introduction to TA and each other in Section.


Module 2: Beginning Monday, September 9


       Mon: Reading/Study Day (NO LECTURE)

Wed Lecture:  Anthropologists, Fieldwork, and the View from the Field

Reading: Tired of Weeping, Introduction and Chapter One (pp. 3-59).


Module 3: Beginning Monday, September 16


       Mon Film: Unnatural causes: is inequality making us sick?

Wed Lecture:  The Costs of Progress, Hunger


Module 4: Beginning Monday, September 23


       Mon: Reading/Study Day (NO LECTURE)

Wed Lecture:  Hunger, Poverty, Child Death

       Reading: Tired of Weeping, Chapters Two, Three, and Four (pp. 60-137)


Module 5: Beginning Monday, September 30


       Mon Film: Placebo, Mind Over Medicine?

Wed Lecture:  Religion and Metaphor

Reading: Tired of Weeping, Chapter Five (pp. 138-163)


Module 6: Beginning Monday, October 7


Mon Film: Return to Belaye

Wed Lecture: Finish film; then Religion & Social Change discussion 

Readings: Biographical Objects, Chapter Two (in D2L Module)


Module 7: Beginning Monday, October 14


       Mon Film: Dadi's Family

       Wed Lecture: Marriage, Family, & Kinship

Readings: For Kinship Game in Recitation/Lab: Brief Readings on Samburu & North Indian Kinship (in D2L Module)


Module 8: Beginning Monday, October 21


Mon Lecture: BBC Maasai segment

Wed Lecture: Intro to Samburu & Maasai

Readings: Samburu encyclopedia article (in D2L) & module of course  


Module 9: Beginning Monday, October 28


Mon Film: Samburu/Maasai continued; Samburu sexuality & gender

Wed Lecture:  Samburu/Maasai continued; Samburu material culture

Readings: Review Samburu Encyclopedia Article & Read: Hoskins Ch 5; Samburu Material Culture article (in D2L Module)


Module 10: Beginning Monday, November 4


Mon Lecture: Gender, Sexuality, and the Construction of Men and Women, with 13 minute Film in Lecture (XXXY)

Wed Lecture: Gender, Sexuality, and the Construction of Men and Women Continued

Readings: Fausto-Sterling’s Sexing the Body excerpt (in D2L Module), AND Neither Man Nor Woman (pp. xvii-xxi; 1-23).


Module 11: Beginning Monday, November 11


       Mon Film: Paradise Bent

Wed Lecture: Transgender, Beyond Sex and Gender

       Readings: Neither Man Nor Woman (pp. 24-82).


Module 12: Beginning Monday, November 18


       Mon Lecture: Economy, Society, Inequality

Wed: NO LECTURE (AAA Meetings)  

Recitation Section: NO RECITATION SECTION (AAA Meetings)


Module 13: Beginning Monday, November 25


       Mon Film: Inequality, Culture, Conflict, and Violence

Wed FILM: Conflict, Post-Conflict 

       Readings: Straight's Chapter in Violence (in D2L Module).


Module 14: Beginning Monday, December 3


Mon Lecture: Conflict Continued as necessary; Applying Anthropology

Wed Lecture: Conclude; Cumulative Quiz