Curriculum Overview 

The study of anthropology leads to a knowledge of the world’s cultural, social and biological diversity in the past and present. Although the focus of such knowledge is the entirety of the human experience, students of anthropology apply their comparative perspective to reflect upon their own lives, beliefs and taken-for-granted assumptions. In this sense, anthropology provides a strong foundation for “the examined life,” a Socratic ideal that is one of the founding inspirations of the liberal arts.

Anthropology, the study of humanity, is unique among academic disciplines in being simultaneously a social science, a natural science and one of the humanities. As one noted anthropologist has remarked: “Anthropology is the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the sciences.”

Although it is true that many anthropologists spend much of their time studying and writing about the “small picture”—a remote village, a single archaeological site, a particular myth—it is also true that the discipline is concerned with the biggest, most general, picture. General questions about the “natural” roles of parents, the meaning of work, the function of ritual and the origins of inequality are typically anthropological. All anthropologists, no matter what their theoretical persuasions or topical specializations, affirm the value of holism, viewing all aspects of human thought and action as interrelated. This holistic outlook is perfectly consistent with the nature and goals of liberal education in the modern world. Not only does the anthropology major provide a strong background in critical thinking, analysis and writing, but the anthropology graduate also generally comes away with a broad appreciation for global diversity and a deep sympathy for our fellow humans.

The Franklin & Marshall Anthropology major seeks to balance the learning of factual content, theoretical analysis and actual empirical research in either cultural anthropology or archaeology. Our majors learn about anthropology, but they also experience what it means to do anthropology.

A major in Anthropology consists of 10 courses: 100, 102, 200; one culture-area course; two 300-level courses; 410 (for those mainly interested in social anthropology) or 411 (for those mainly interested in archaeology); and three electives. We also encourage our majors to expand the projects begun in their Methods course (410 or 411) into full-scale Independent Studies projects based upon original field research. Students should discuss research opportunities with their departmental advisers prior to the spring semester of their junior year. The writing requirement in the Anthropology major is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.

A minor in Anthropology consists of six courses in the department: 100; 102; 200; one culture-area course; one 300-level course; and one elective.

Majors in the Department of Anthropology have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: School for International Training (SIT); Butler University’s Institute for Study Abroad; Institute for the International Education of Students (IES); Council on International Educational Exchange; Institute for Field Research. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered


A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement; (W) Writing requirement. 

100. Social Anthropology. (S)
An examination of fundamental categories and practices in social anthropology, giving special attention to anthropological methodologies, basic forms of social organization, and the ways human beings generate particular social meanings through their aesthetic, economic, religious, and political activities. 
Bastian, Billig, LeFevre, Guarasci

102. Introduction to Archaeology. (S)
An introductory survey of historic and prehistoric archaeology that examines how knowledge about the past is created, debated and sometimes abused. A survey of world prehistory from the earliest hominids through the rise of the first “civilizations” to expose the range of variation in past human social and political organization. Provides a global and comparative approach to better understand and appreciate this diversity. As we learn about the messages and lessons that archaeology has to offer, we should begin to think critically about our own society and reflect on the possibilities for its improvement. 
Smith, M.A. Levine, Hart

170 179. Topics in Anthropology. (S)
Lecture courses or seminars on theoretical or ethnographic subjects of current interest.

200. Anthropological Theory. (S)
The history of anthropological thought up to the present. The meaning and purpose of thinking theoretically. This course serves as the prerequisite to most 300-level courses in Anthropology. Prerequisite: ANT 100 or permission of the instructor. 

215. Women in Society. (S)
How gender roles affect women’s participation in political, ritual, economic and other social relations. The course materials will include detailed ethnographic work on specific societies and will maintain a theoretical perspective informed by contemporary gender studies. Prerequisite: ANT 100. Same as WGS 215. 

250. Witchcraft and Sorcery in a Global Context. (S)
In this course we will consider how the categories of “witchcraft” and “sorcery” have been used in Anthropology, both to describe mystical acts (particularly mystical attacks) and as an ethnographic metaphor to discuss the pressures of communal life for individuals. Course content will consist of, but not be limited to, witchcraft and sorcery as a “social strain gauge,” witchcraft and sorcery as expressions of symbolic power, the gendered name of witchcraft and sorcery, as well as witchcraft and sorcery under conditions of Western-style modernity. Same as AFS/RST/WGS 250. 

253. Andean Archaeology. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
This course explores the cultural diversity of the central Andes of South America from the original arrival of migrants over 12,000 years ago to contact with Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century. Geographically, the course will focus on prehistoric cultures that occupied the modern countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Themes include: debates about the initial migration to the region, early food production, the origins of social complexity, ceremonialism, state formation and disintegration, and conquest by Spain. Prerequisites: ANT100, or ANT102 or permission of instructor. 

257. People and Cultures of the Andes. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
This course focuses on the mountainous Andean region of South America and provides an overview of Andean society from AD 1500 to present. We will examine the colonial matrix in which Iberian and Andean social, political, and cultural forms came together. This course uses ethnographies, contact period chronicles, indigenous narratives, novels, testimonials, and film about contemporary Andean society to address issues of colonialism, race, class, ethnicity, gender, and human-environment relationships. Geographically, this course focuses on the region encompassed by the modern nations of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Prerequisite: ANT 100, ANT 102, or permission of the instructor. 

258. People and Cultures of East Asia. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
This course introduces students to the cultures of China, Korea, and Japan. Through primary sources (in translation), films, and ethnographies, this course will examine the shared cultural backgrounds of the region as well as how each country has made modifications to fit their own society. Topics include the mainstream philosophical traditions of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, as well as such complex issues as the individual and society, ethnicity and nationalism, and gender. 

259. Anthropology of the Middle East. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
How do we understand the Middle East beyond the politics of oil and war? This class is designed to introduce students to the cultural production of the region between North Africa and West Asia, between the Atlantic and Central Asia, commonly known as the Middle East. The course begins with the study of colonial approaches to the region and ends with a consideration of recent work that defines the Middle East anew by emphasizing the religious, commercial, and political networks that have historically connected urban and rural locations in regionally definitive way. By moving between primary source documents and scholarly analysis in class discussions and written course assignments, students will learn to be ethnographers and thereby sharpen their own critical interpretive abilities. At the end of the course, students will have foundational knowledge of the Middle East as both a geographic and ideological location. Prerequisite: ANT100. 

260. Archaeology of North America. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
This course surveys the prehistory of Native American peoples in Canada and the United States from their arrival on this continent more than 12,000 years ago to their encounters with Europeans. Through the use of a regional approach to the study of indigenous peoples, this course will survey a wide variety of prehistoric Native American peoples including those in the Arctic, Northwest coast, Southwest and Northeast. By uncovering the diversity of Native American lifeways in the past, this course provides the foundation for understanding the rich heritage of contemporary Native American peoples. Prerequisites: ANT100, ANT102 or permission of the instructor. 
M.A. Levine

261. North American Indians of the Eastern Woodlands. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
A survey of the past and present diversity of indigenous peoples in the Eastern Woodlands of the United States and Canada. The focus is on the prehistoric archaeology of the region, the consequences of European colonization on native groups and the struggles and achievements of indigenous peoples today. An examination of issues ranging from the controversy that surrounds the initial settlement of the Eastern Woodlands by Native Americans to contemporary debates on federal recognition and sovereignty. Prerequisite: ANT 100 or 102. Same as AMS 261. 
M.A. Levine

263. The Amish. (S) (Culture Area)
A survey of Amish history, social organization, and culture through the lens of cultural anthropology. Relations with the “English” world through tourism, commerce, and media. Will include at least one field trip. Prerequisite: ANT100.  Satisfies the culture area requirement for the Anthropology major and minor, but does not satisfy the College’s non-Western culture requirement. 

267. Peoples and Cultures of Africa. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
Social and historical practices of various African cultures, with a special emphasis on sub-Saharan groups. Topics considered will include the intersections between political economy, performances, religion, art, and popular media on the continent. Prerequisite: ANT 100. Same as AFS 267.

269. Prehistory of the Near East. (NW) (S) (Culture Area)
This course explores the cultural and social diversity of the ancient Near East, tracing cultural developments from early post-glacial times through the end of the Iron Age. Topics discussed will include the development of agriculture and Neolithic lifeways, the rise of the world’s earliest cities, the development of social complexity, state formation and expansion, the development of writing systems, and the politics of cultural heritage, among others. Prerequisite: ANT102, or ANT100, or permission of instructor.

270 279. Topics in Anthropology. (S)
Lecture courses or seminars on theoretical or ethnographic subjects of current interest.

290. Independent Study.

301. Archaeology of Inequality. (S)
To what extent are inequality and domination inherent or “natural” characteristics of social life? If these phenomena are not intrinsic then how, and in which contexts, do they arise? What are the implications of these phenomena and how do people resist hierarchies? This course examines the development of economic, gender, and racial hierarchies from an archaeological perspective. Archaeology is well suited to address these questions because it examines change and development in social life over long periods of time. Prerequisite: ANT 200 or permission of instructor.

330. Anthropological Studies of Religion. (S)
This course takes account of various aspects of religious and ritual practice, using material from both contemporary and classic ethnographies. Topics of special interest for the course will include, but not be limited to: cosmological constructions; initiation; possession; commensality; magic; witchcraft and sorcery; ritual aesthetics; and performance. Prerequisite: ANT 200. Same as RST 330. 

333. Anthropology of Personhood. (S)
What does it mean to be a person? This seminar explores the category of the person, one of anthropology’s most enduring interests. From the early writings of Mauss to recent works on the "social life of microbiome" or the "the ethnography of robots," anthropologists have sought to better understand who (or what) counts as a person, and why. In some cultural settings, for instance, non-human animals, "inanimate" objects and spirits may qualify for claims of personhood to which some human beings may not be entitled. Readings will feature ethnographies from the Melanesian South Pacific, Amazonia and the United States, as well as selections from philosophical texts and science fiction. Prerequisite: ANT 200 or permission of the instructor. 

335. Power. (NW) (S)
This seminar investigates the formation of power as an act of creativity. It does so by using the concept of “frontier” to think about power in formation. We will examine three principle frontiers of power: capital, science, and art. Frontiers of power are inchoate spaces, spaces in formation. Because of its liminal nature, wild abuses of power can happen in the frontier, as during the U.S. period of manifest destiny when settler colonists expanded into Native lands. At the same time, the frontier can be a space of unbridled creativity. In frontier spaces, creativity and power work in relation. It is this relationship that we will explore in this class. As students explore the relationships of creativity and power, they will also interrogate how anthropological works engaging the topic are themselves innovative texts, thereby developing a dialogic investigation that engages texts both as form and content. The final course assignment challenges students to put their literary investigation into practice by analyzing power within a creative medium of their choice: students will prepare an original piece of art, a musical composition, a work of fiction, an entrepreneurial endeavor, or an ethnography that elaborates upon the themes explored in seminar. Prerequisites: ANT100 and ANT200.    

337. Anthropology of Environment. (NW) (S)
The environment is a definitive problem of the twenty-first century. Struggles to counteract climate change, international initiatives to conserve biodiversity, legislation to curb industrial pollution, and protocol for natural resource appropriation all express a commitment to care for the environment. This class troubles the waters: What do we mean by environment? What histories of nature, power, and capital define environment? What are the contemporary economic and political implications of this environmental ethos? In this course, students will grapple with such questions to achieve competency in the anthropology of environment. Prerequisite: ANT100. Same as ENE337.  

340. Anthropology of Wealth and Poverty. (S)
Anthropological approaches to the relationship between economy and society, including intensive readings of theoretical and empirical literature. Topics include: the nature of rationality; Marxist and non-Marxist political economy; the nature and role of production and exchange; class-conflict; colonialism; and the making of the Third World. Prerequisite: ANT 200.

343. Cultural Relativism. (S)
Anthropologists have been scorned by conservatives and philosophers for having foisted the doctrine of “cultural relativism” on the world. This doctrine purportedly claims that all cultures are equal, that we cannot and must not judge values (or morals, or standards, or ways of living, or truths) of any one culture—even our own—as being superior. Is this a fair description of cultural relativism in anthropology? Do anthropologists really avoid judging practices such as human sacrifice and cannibalism? Where does this doctrine come from? What are its strengths and limitations? Is it as pernicious and incoherent as its critics assert? Prerequisite: ANT 200. 

345. Transitions to Capitalism. (S)
Theoretical debates, historical analyses, and ethnographic studies about the rise of market exchange, private property, and the capitalist mode of production. Anthropological perspectives on the nature, origins, and culture of capitalism. Prerequisite: ANT 200.

355. The Body. (S)
Examines contemporary theoretical and ethnographic discussions relating to the human body. Topics covered will include social constructions of gender, reproduction and reproductive technologies, cultural ideologies of sexuality, social inscriptions on the body, “the body in extremis,” cultural depositions of the corpse and what some might call hybrid, cyborg or even virtual bodies. Prerequisite: ANT 200 or permission of the instructor. Same as WGS 355. 

360. Spatial Archaeology. (S)
The analysis of ancient spatial orders has been central to the archaeological study of past social organization and dynamics. This course explores the ways in which archaeologists have studied spatial organization at various scales, from regions to buildings. Topics covered include landscape archaeology, social meanings of space, urbanism, the archaeology of community, archaeological approaches to the analysis of public architecture, and household archaeology. Case studies may include Classic period Maya, ancient Peru, Sub-Saharan Africa, Neolithic Britain, Egypt, the Levant, and North America. Prerequisite: ANT 200 or permission of the instructor. 

365. Queens, Goddesses and Archaeology. (S)
This course will consider how archaeologists examine gender and interpret the roles of women in ancient subsistence economies, politics and religions. To achieve this goal we will discuss the roles of women in egalitarian and stratified societies and explore the actions and status of both high-ranking and everyday women in the ancient world. Prerequisites: ANT 100, ANT 102, ANT 200 or permission of the instructor. Same as WGS 365. 
M.A. Levine

370 379. Topics in Anthropology. (S)
Lecture courses or seminars on theoretical or ethnographic subjects of current interest.

380. Archaeology of Colonialism in Native North America. (S) (NW)
Archaeology is well poised to shed light on the social and historical processes associated with colonialism and the impact that European colonization had on Native Americans. By considering five centuries of interaction between Native Americans and Europeans we will examine the diversity of experiences pertaining to culture change and continuity, depopulation, accommodation, hybridization, resistance, and revolt. By exploring a wide range of archaeological case studies of colonial-indigenous interactions we will also examine how colonialism was experienced at multiple levels ranging from the individual to large populations. Prerequisites: ANT 100, ANT 102 and ANT 200. 
M.A. Levine

390. Independent Study.

410. Anthropological Methods. (S)
A practicum in anthropological fieldwork, including exercises in participant observation, interviewing, framing a research question, analysis and interpretation of data. Prerequisite: ANT 200. 

411. Archaeological Methods. (S)
This course will provide students with hands-on training in archaeological field and laboratory methods. In the first half of the semester, participants will travel to a local field site and learn techniques of archaeological data recovery, including survey, mapping and excavation. In the second half of the course, the focus will be on lab analysis, including the processing and interpretation of artifacts recovered during the field component of the course. Special attention will be given to computer techniques applicable to archaeological analysis. Students should expect to spend time outdoors and to dedicate at least one or two weekend days to field trips. 

490. Independent Study.
Senior level independent study directed by the Anthropology staff. Permission of chairperson.


Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2020-2021 

  • Anthropology of Melanesia.
  • ​Paleoethnobotany.
  • Culture and Collapse.
  • Ghosts and Spirits.
  • Ancient Mesoamerica.