Fall 2023 - SA 364 D100

Urban Communities and Cultures (SA) (4)

Class Number: 2835

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Oct 6, 2023: Tue, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

    Oct 11 – Dec 5, 2023: Tue, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Anthropological approaches to urbanization, the nature of the city as a social system, and urban cultures and lifestyles. Students with credit for SA 464 are not eligible to take SA 364 for further credit.


What are some of the key issues and changes confronting cities today? How do inhabitants negotiate their places in an urban community and its ever-changing social, material, and imaginative landscapes? What can anthropology offer to the study of urban life? And how can cities serve as key ethnographic locations for understanding inequalities, displacements, memory, and social movements?

By discussing Metro Vancouver as well as cities in different countries and societies, this course will introduce students to some central questions and ideas in urban anthropology and offer them a range of critical approaches for the study of cities and their cultures. Topics will include cities, infrastructure, and the environment; Indigenous planning; inequality and displacement; and sensory urban ethnography. Students will also discuss and practice particular methodologies for researching urban communities, such as walking itineraries and observation of city spaces.


At the end of the course, students will be able to

  • make connections between their own experiences and observations of the city where they live (and of other cities they know) and some of the ideas and perspectives discussed in the urban literature.
  • identify, discuss, and analyze a range of issues affecting contemporary cities in different regions/countries by drawing from anthropological and/or sociological frameworks and ideas.
  • explain how power relations shape urban space, and how urban space can reproduce urban inequality (including exclusions based on race, class, gender, and more) in different cities. Analyze some of the causes and impacts of urban inequality for differently positioned inhabitants, and responses to it.
  • apply various perspectives to discuss some of the connections between human and more-than-human inhabitants and aspects in urban communities.


  • Experiential learning assignments 35%
  • Essay (written in class, then completed at home) 35%
  • Reading responses 30%


Classes consist of a 3-hour seminar and an additional hour of independent learning, including a fieldtrip (details and dates will be discussed in class).

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 Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T20.01), and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10‐S10.05). 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.

The Sociology and Anthropology Student Union, SASU, is a governing body of students who are engaged with the department and want to build the SA community. Get involved!  Follow Facebook and Instagram pages or visit our website.



Required readings will be available through the library or through CANVAS.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.