Fall 2021 - SA 201W D100

Anthropology and Contemporary Life (A) (4)

Class Number: 5348

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    WMC 3535, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 8, 2021
    6:00 PM – 6:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Pamela Stern
    Office Hours: We 14:00-16:00 or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    Recommended: SA 101.



An introduction to the anthropological perspective as applied to the organization of everyday life in contemporary settings. Introduces positivist, interpretive, and critical interpretive approaches to the analysis of social actions, identities, and values as enacted in space and time. Writing.


Anthropology provides theoretical and methodological tools to analyse and interpret many of the taken-for-granted assumptions and institutions of contemporary life. Indeed, many of the discipline’s founders were concerned with understanding the lives of Others in order to better understand and critique their own societies. This undergraduate seminar will apply an anthropological perspective to unravelling some of the complexity of everyday life in Canada and elsewhere. We will employ contemporary and classic anthropological theories in our efforts to understand current issues. We will also examine some of the ways that anthropology can contribute to policymaking on current issues such as citizenship, work, globalization, economic crisis, migration, and consumption. Active student participation is critical. Classes will consist of lectures, discussions, group work, exercises and films. The course satisfies requirements for a lower division Writing Intensive course.


At the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Understand the ways that anthropological methods and theories inform our knowledge about contemporary peoples and social issues;
  • Employ anthropological theories and data to write a persuasive essay;
  • Write with improved clarity.


  • Writing skills quizzes 10%
  • Op-ed essay 20%
  • Analytical essays (5 x 10%) 50%
  • Final exam (take-home) 15%
  • In-class group participation 5%


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.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



Millar, Kathleen. (2018). Reclaiming the Discarded: Life and Labor on Rio’s Garbage Dump, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Print ISBN: 978-0-822370505
VitalSource eText ISBN: 978-0-822372073

Stern, Pamela, (Ed.). (2015). Reading Cultural Anthropology, Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Print ISBN: 978-0-199013128
VitalSource eText ISBN: 978-0-199013135

Podcasts, videos, journal articles and book chapters (available through CANVAS)

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html 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. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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 may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.