Anthropology Major

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Department Faculty

The Anthropology Program

The anthropology major at Mary Washington concentrates on cultural anthropology–ethnography, theory, and practice. Anthropology courses study the varieties of human culture, both ancient and contemporary; discuss the methods of cultural anthropologists; and present the theories that have been advanced to explain cultural similarities and diversity. Besides making students aware of the extent and impress of human cultural achievement, courses offer opportunities for doing first-hand research in the community of Fredericksburg and, for those interested, elsewhere in the world as well. We also work closely with colleagues in the Department of Historic Preservation to train students interested in archaeology.

Anthropology provides an excellent background for careers in many governmental and private-sector organizations such as museum work, publishing and journalism, advertising and market research, international business, human resources, film, contract archaeology, primary or secondary education, and third-world development, as well as for graduate work in anthropology or related fields.

Requirements for Anthropology Major

Thirty (30) credits, including ANTH 101, 298, 299, 480, 481; 15 elective credits in anthropology. Up to 6 credits in SOCG 300 – 499, HISP 207, and HISP 467 may be taken as electives in the major.

Anthropology Course Offerings

Anthropology course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of ANTH in the course listings.

101 – Introduction to Cultural and Social Anthropology (3)

Introduces the student to non-Western societies and examines fundamentals such as ritual, myth, exchange, production, law, kinship, and marriage; discusses methods and theories pertinent to the material.

211 – The Anthropology of “Race” (3)

Explores why current vernacular understandings of “race” and scientific understandings of “race” diverge so dramatically. Looks at the long history of scientific (mis)understandings of human biological diversity. Interrogates why racialist thinking has been a fundamental component of a western cultural world view.

212 – The Anthropology of Gender (3)

The anthropological approach to gender: cultural definition and social status of female and male; other genders; theories of gender definition and gender hierarchy.

215 – Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (3)

Precontact cultures of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize, from early archaeological sites until the Spanish conquest. Concentration on the “high civilizations” of Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacán, Toltec, and Aztec. Examination of archaeological methods, models, and problems in Mesoamerica.

271 – Special Studies in Ethnography (3)

Prerequisites: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299. Concentrates on one culture area not otherwise covered in the curriculum, and related theoretical concerns. Choice of area reflects both student and instructor interests.

298 – Ethnography (3)

Co-requisite: ANTH 299. An exploration of the methods of anthropological research and discursive styles of the presentation of anthropological materials. An introduction to the practices of cultural anthropology.

299 – Arguments in Anthropology (3)

Co-requisite: ANTH 298. Examines the ways the discipline of anthropology changes as it enters into arguments about what it means to be human and about what are the purposes and goals of the discipline. Explores how ethnographic data are used, evaluated, and contested in these arguments. An introduction to theories of cultural anthropology.

309 – The Anthropology of Art (3)

Anthropological approaches to understanding art, focusing on but not limited to non-western art forms: painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, textiles, body art; relationship among meaning, material, and aesthetics; mutual influences of western and non-western art; collection, globalization, and copyright of nonwestern art.

316 – Political Anthropology (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of instructor. A survey of the anthropological contribution to a comparative political science. Focuses on political structures and conflicts in non-western non-state societies. Includes an overview of anthropological studies of nationalism, colonialism, and post-colonial political processes.

317 – Economic Anthropology (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of instructor. Nature of non-western economies: production, division of labor, exchange and ceremonial exchange, debt, hierarchy. Impact of globalization and capitalist economic structure on such economies.

318 – Anthropology of Religion (3)

Anthropological study of religious ideas and practices of selected non-Western peoples: sacred and profane, spiritual law, morality; sacrifice, shamanism, divination, and prayer;  millenarianism and conservatism. Focus on the similarities between non-western religions and so-called world religions; impact of the missionary presence in non-western societies.

321 – Anthropology of Food (3)

Pre-requisite: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of the instructor. A cross-cultural study of the production and consumption of food; cultural attitudes and meanings of food, food-sharing, and eating; body image and ideal body types; food in a global context. Theoretical concerns include the definition of food and the edible, the conceptual relationship between food and health, and the raw and the cooked. Satisfies the “field-research intensive” requirement for the anthropology major.

322 – Symbolic Anthropology (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of the instructor. The interpretation of symbols as found in rituals, myths, and everyday life in both western and non-western cultures. Relationship between symbols and action; nature of culture change and persistent cultural structures.

333 – Issues in Human Rights (3)

Analysis and discussion of changing concepts of human rights and the movements that have defended and broadened them. Cross-listed as American Studies 333.

341 – Practices of Memory (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of the instructor. Collective memory, or a shared understanding of the past, plays a vital role in group identity and in the way present events are understood. But memories are made in the present, and they are always selective. What is remembered and forgotten can be extremely important: the stories we tell about our past, the events we commemorate, the museum exhibits we visit, the films we produce and watch, and the monuments we build all play a significant role in defining our identity by shaping how we view the past.

342 – Touring Cultures (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of the instructor. In this course we will explore “touring cultures” – cultures of tourists and tourism, as well as the cultures of those toured and the effects of tourism on them. We will examine interactions between tourists, local residents, and institutions, and the ways people, places, and historic periods are produced and packaged for consumption by tourists. Other topics will include the connections between tourism and issues of leisure and consumption, globalization, class and ethnic identities, authentic vs. manufactured experiences, and sex tourism.

343 – Culture and Identity in Europe (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of the instructor. The economic and political integration of Europe has been justified by the idea of a common European cultural heritage or “civilization.” In this course we will read and discuss a range of ethnographic texts to consider changing cultural forms in Europe as well as identities focused on class, gender, ethnicity, and race. We will also examine attempts to define the boundaries of Europe, European citizenship, and European culture – attempts made all the more significant and complex by immigration and cultural diversity as well as the ambiguity of “Europe” and “European.”

344 – Urban Theory and Ethnography (3)

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Historical, theoretical, and ethnographic perspectives on cities, urban life, and habitation. Also included are ethnographies of suburbs, gated communities, and new urbanist developments. Students will practice urban ethnographic field methods in a semester-long research project.

350 – Amazonian Societies (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or permission of instructor. In-depth study of ethnographic literature on Amazonian societies, including kinship, economics, politics, gender, shamanism and other main themes. Western preconceptions about humanity, power and morality are put in comparative context alongside indigenous theories.

365 – Environment and Development Narratives (3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 101. This course focuses on the sub-fields of environmental anthropology and the anthropology of development.  It examines cross-cultural theories of nature, space and relationality, with a focus on the interface between indigenous societies and Western discourses and practices pertaining to conservation and socioeconomic development. 

371 – Special Topics in Anthropology (3)

Prerequisites: ANTH 101 or 298 and 299 or permission of the instructor. Concentrates on an important anthropological topic not otherwise covered in the curriculum; comprehensive readings and discussion. Choice of topic reflects both student and instructor interests.

450– Ethnographic Field Methods in Guyana (3)

Prerequisites: ANTH 350 or permission of instructor. Faculty-led, six-week abroad course entailing ethnographic field research in an indigenous community in Guyana, South America.  Students participate in community life and develop a research project based on their interests.  Advanced instruction in ethnographic/qualitative research methods and indigenous cultures of the Amazon.

480 – Senior Research (3)

Prerequisites: Anthropology major with senior standing; ANTH 298, 299. Independent research, guided by the instructor, on a topic of the student’s choice in preparation for writing the senior thesis in the second semester.

481 – Senior Thesis (3)

Prerequisites: Anthropology major with senior standing; ANTH 298, 299. Under the direction of one of the anthropology faculty, students write a 30-35 page thesis based on the research undertaken during the first semester in ANTH 480.

491, 492 – Individual Study and Research (Credits variable)

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Individual work under the guidance of the instructor. At the wish of the student and with the approval of the instructor, either course may be designated “field-research intensive.”

499 – Internship (Credits variable)

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Supervised off-campus experience developed in consultation with the instructor. Cannot be counted in the major program.