Summer 2020 - SA 364 J100

Urban Communities and Cultures (SA) (4)

Class Number: 2199

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    Bascom Guffin
    Office Hours: Th 16:20–17:20, or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Anthropological approaches to urbanization, the nature of the city as a social system, and urban cultures and lifestyles. Students with credit for SA 464 are not eligible to take SA 364 for further credit.


More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban communities, and over 80% of Canadians do. As such, cities have become increasingly central to how we humans organize our lives, on both an individual and a societal level. Through this course we will analyze just a few aspects of contemporary cities and the urban, taking a global perspective that will afford us a deeper understanding of the diversities of urban life around the world and our own urban contexts, and the inequalities and power relations inherent in them. We will do this in large part by paying close attention to all of our senses and what they can tell us about the environment around us, and by thinking spatially, focusing on how systems and urban inhabitants consciously and unconsciously make and use spaces and how those spaces in turn shape us and our societies. We draw from an eclectic set of sources: ethnographies, music, films, recorded soundscapes, and maybe even a YouTube video or three. We will seek to both locate the city and displace our usual sense of what it means, and in the process gain a more complex, nuanced perspective on the urban. We approach this project as partners and will be insightful and generous critics to the material and each other.


  • Participation and attendance 15%
  • Weekly reading responses 15%
  • Ethnographic observation of an urban space 20%
  • Critical synthesis of course themes 20%
  • Final project 30%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.



Universal Access Remote learning for this semester requires a computer or tablet, camera, and internet access. Most laptops and desktops are running OSX and Windows. Tablets may be Android, iOS or Windows based. Headsets are advised but not necessary. Note that students have access to free Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud found here.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion