Spring 2023 - SA 201W OL01

Anthropology and Contemporary Life (A) (4)

Class Number: 2585

Delivery Method: Distance Education


  • Course Times + Location:


  • Instructor:

    Jie Yang
    1 778 782-4297
    Office Hours: by appointment via Zoom
  • Prerequisites:

    Recommended: SA 101.



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. 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 social and cultural change. It offers a rethinking of basic concepts, methods and formulations of research projects to engage altered ethnographic objects and shifting ethnographic field. 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.


  • Master key anthropological theories
  • Cultivate ethnographic sensibility
  • Develop ability for critical reading/writing/thinking
  • Develop ability for professional presentation


  • Auto-ethnography 15%
  • Discussion Leadership and Participation 15%
  • Essay abstract and outline 5%
  • Final essay 45%
  • Final test 20%


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.


  • Attendance and participation: Your mark depends on your making every effort to attend all classes and actively participate in discussions.
  • Handing in assignments: all assignments are to be submitted to Canvas. The penalty for late assignments is 5% per day (including weekends).
  • Academic dishonesty: Academic dishonesty, which includes plagiarism and cheating, will be penalized.
  • Illness and Emergency: If an illness, injury, or other emergency impacts your coursework, it is your responsibility to contact the instructor as soon as possible to discuss whether it would be in your best interest to drop the course or to immediately arrange an alternative assignment or deadline. Any change must be supported by documentation verifying sufficient cause and settled in writing between the student and the instructor. For SFU policies on sick note, please see this link: https://www.sfu.ca/students/health/resources/faq/sick-notes.html



Some of the readings in the syllabus are available as electronic resources through the Simon Fraser University library (URL to be posted). Other readings are available as PDF files on the website posted by the instructor.


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