Spring 2019 - SA 201W D100

Anthropology and Contemporary Life (A) (4)

Class Number: 3146

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Tue, 8:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Jie Yang
    1 778 782-4297
    Office: AQ 5056
    Office Hours: WE 12:30-13:30, or by appointment
  • 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.


Contemporary human life is characterized by the accelerated movement of people and objects; the explosion of information and new technologies; emerging transnational cultures; changing forms of class, gender and race/ethnicity exploitation; new health concerns; and economic and environmental disruptions. These new trends resist traditional scholarly treatment within the discipline of anthropology. This course thus explores anthropology’s history of interdisciplinary theories and methods that address the human consequences, dislocations, challenges, and opportunities encompassed in dramatic social and cultural change. It offers a rethinking of basic concepts, methods and formulations of research projects to engage altered ethnographic objects. The course addresses the shifting conditions of the analysis of cultural practice in anthropology, particularly as boundaries between those who study and those who are the objects of study erode and the discipline itself is reorganized. It aims to answer broad questions, such as how information and communication technologies and mass media re-demarcate the private and the public and mediate social relations at many levels of social action; how globalization and transnational processes have challenged the centrality of the nation-state in theorizing culture and power; and how the concept of culture has been redefined within the changing social contour, with its increasing use outside of the academy and among peoples studied by anthropology.


  • Auto-ethnography 15%
  • Discussion leadership and participation 15%
  • Essay abstract and outline 5%
  • Final essay 45%
  • Final exam (in-class) 20%


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.



Some of the readings will be available as electronic resources through the Simon Fraser University Library (URL to be posted).

Other readings will be available as PDFs or email attachments sent by the instructor.

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