Fall 2016 - SA 201W D100

Anthropology and Contemporary Life (A) (4)

Class Number: 3437

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2016: Wed, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:




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. Students with credit for SA 291 may not take SA 201W for further credit. Recommended: SA 101. Writing. Equivalent Courses: SA201 SA291 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 the organization of everyday life in contemporary settings 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 Writing Intensive course.


  • Short essay responses to assigned reading (4 x 5% each) 20%
  • Composition of a commentary or op-ed 35%
  • Take home final analytical essay 30%
  • Quizzes 5%
  • Attendance and constructive participation 10%


Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. In class quizzes are not included in the graded assignment required to receive a final grade.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy
The Department of Sociology and 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: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html. 



Stern, P., ed., Reading Cultural Anthropology, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2015

Reno, Joshua O. Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016

A small number of additional newspaper and journal articles available through CANVAS.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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