Fall 2017 - SA 101 D100

Introduction to Anthropology (A) (4)

Class Number: 2497

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Tue, 8:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Instructor:

    Bascom Guffin
    Office: AQ 5080
    Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:30-12:30 or by appointment



An introduction to the study of human social and cultural life from an anthropological perspective. The course will explore the scope and nature of the discipline of anthropology through study of selected cases drawn from both technologically simple communities and complex modern industrial societies. Students with credit for SA 170 may not take SA 101 for further credit. Breadth-Social Sciences. Equivalent Courses: SA170 Breadth-Social Sciences.


"Anthropology is often considered a collection of curious facts, telling about the peculiar appearance of exotic people and describing their strange customs and beliefs. It is looked upon as an entertaining diversion, apparently without any bearing upon the conduct of life of civilized communities. This opinion is mistaken. More than that, I hope to demonstrate that a clear understanding of the principles of anthropology illuminates the social processes of our own times and may show, if we are ready to listen to its teachings, what to do and what to avoid." — Franz Boas, Anthropology and Modern Life, 1928.

As the quote above points out, anthropology is often stereotyped as the study of primitive, exotic cultures “over there.” And while a great deal of anthropology does focus on the lives of non- Euro-western peoples, it has from the start been comparative, considering the entirety of humanity as its subject. Anthropologists study almost all aspects of our complex species and the ways we live and interact, from the symbolic realm of how we communicate with each other; to the ways we form our worldviews; to political, economic, and ideological relationships that form global power structures. What anthropology comes down to, then, is not a bunch of facts to memorize (and promptly forget at the end of a class), but rather a way (really multiple ways) of examining and thinking about the world and the human condition, and particularly about human diversity and sameness. It provides a set of analytical tools to help understand the role of culture and society in our lives. Our collective project in this course, then, is to begin to apply some of the observational and analytical tools of anthropology to a small sampling of peoples and sociocultural phenomena around the globe and to our own immediate worlds. As we do so, we will think critically about these approaches and the phenomena they seek to describe and analyze, and will consider the ongoing relevance of anthropology to our own lives and the world around us.


  • Class participation and attendance 10%
  • Weekly reading responses 15%
  • First paper: Sensorial Record of a Public Space 20%
  • Second paper: Critical Media Engagement 20%
  • Final project: Focusing an Anthropological Lens on Your Life 35%


Grades in this class will be based on a percentage scale. Reading responses will not be accepted after 8:30 a.m. the Monday before class; late submissions for other assignments will result in a grade reduction of five (5) percentage points per day, unless you present documentation for a medical reason or other significant emergency. With the exception of reading responses, all graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

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.



Anjaria, Jonathan Shapiro. 2016. The Slow Boil: Street Food, Rights and Public Space in Mumbai. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 
ISBN: 978-0804798228

Brown, Nina, Tubelle de Gonzalez, Laura, and McIlwraith, Thomas (Eds.). 2017. Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association.

All other readings are available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or online.

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