Fall 2019 - SA 201W D100

Anthropology and Contemporary Life (A) (4)

Class Number: 3892

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Fri, 9:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Jenny Shaw
    Office Hours: FR 13:30-14:30
  • 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.


What can anthropological perspectives contribute towards understanding contemporary issues? Anthropology has long attended to the diversity of human life including familiar and unfamiliar beliefs, values, practices, and institutions. The tradition of in-depth and long-term ethnographic research lends itself towards nuanced insights into how people navigate, interpret, and critique their circumstances. At the same time, anthropological theories and methods are constantly shifting to address a rapidly changing world. In this course we will examine a wide range of contemporary issues including the circulation of ideas and commodities, urban and inner-city life, post-war masculinities, reproductive technologies and internet match-making, environmentalism among Indigenous and activist communities, and more. Through active engagement with the course materials and in-class activities students will sharpen their oral and written communication skills while thinking deeply about the contemporary world.


  • Attendance and participation 15%
  • Reading quizzes (3 x 5%) 15%
  • Reading responses (4 x 10%) 40%
  • Take-home analytical essays 30%


Grading: 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.

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.



Ralph, L. (2014). Renegade dreams: Living through injury in gangland Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
ISBN: 978-0-226032719

Stern, P. (2016). Reading cultural anthropology: An ethnographic introduction. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
ISBN: 978-0-199013128

Other readings will be available through the SFU Library and 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