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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Anthropology View this department's website

Students who are curious about the similarities and differences among cultures around the world often find a fresh analytical perspective in anthropology. This program emphasizes sociocultural anthropology, which is the study of contemporary peoples as investigated directly by anthropologists through field research. Departmental offerings also provide exposure to particular cultural areas in which the faculty hold expertise: Asia, Latin America, Africa, Native North America, and the Islamic World. For majors and minors in anthropology, the sequence of courses in theory and methods seeks to encourage analytical skills, provide a foundation in anthropological theory and develop practical skills in observation, interviewing, ethics and interpersonal rapport. The study of anthropology contributes to the liberal arts education of students by providing new tools for understanding and analyzing the diversity of world cultures, as well as our own.

Career Opportunities in Anthropology

With its emphasis on non-Western cultures and its integration of perspectives from the humanities and sciences, anthropology offers versatile training for students in our increasingly interconnected world. A major or minor in anthropology provides excellent preparation for careers in research, education and human services, especially those which involve contact with international and/or multicultural communities. Students of anthropology find employment in both the public and private sectors, in fields as diverse as international development, refugee resettlement, hospital administration, museums and cultural resource management, and tourism.

Facilities and equipment available to the department include classrooms, offices and instructional aids in Eaton Hall, Native American art collections in the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and library holdings.

Requirements for the Anthropology Major (9 Credits)

Core courses

  • ANTH 150 (US) Controversies and Issues in Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 361 (W) Ethnographic Methods
  • ANTH 371 Survey of Anthropological Theory

Five elective courses, selected from:

Senior Year Experience

Requirements for the Anthropology Minor (5 Credits)

Core courses

  • ANTH 150 (US) Controversies and Issues in Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 361 (W) Ethnographic Methods
  • ANTH 371 Survey of Anthropological Theory

Two elective courses from the following:

Faculty

  • Rebecca J. Dobkins, Professor of Anthropology, Chair
  • Fareeha Khan, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies
  • Joyce Millen, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Pamela Moro, Professor of Anthropology
  • Peter Wogan, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Course Listings

ANTH 090X Native North American Film (.25)

A study of films and videos about and/or by Native North Americans. It is intended to introduce the cultures of indigenous peoples of Canada and the U.S. through visual media, as well as to explore and critique the conventions employed by the filmmakers. Ideally taken concurrently with ANTH 231.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 144 Topics in Cultural Anthropology (1)

This course provides the flexibility to offer special topics of interest in anthropology at the introductory level. The course may study a particular anthropological problem, focus upon a particular cultural or geographic area, or consider a particular methodology or school of thought. Designation of specific topic and/or approach will be made at the time of the course offering. May be repeated for credit with different topic.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 150 (US) Controversies and Issues in Cultural Anthropology (1)

Introduces students to cultural anthropology, the study of cultures from various parts of the world, including the U.S. Through debates, close readings of cultural case studies, and problem-solving, students critically evaluate anthropologists' approaches to topics such as gender, ecology, power, and ritual. Possible questions: How to explain gender inequalities? Are universal morals and cultural relativism at odds? Is human behavior learned or inherited?

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

Prerequisite: 1st and 2nd year students only

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 211 (IT) Folklore (1)

Considers the major forms, functions, origins, methods of transmission and performance of folklore, as well as the collection and analysis of folklore. Introduces a variety of folklore genres (such as myth, joke, riddle, proverb, ballad), drawing upon cross-cultural as well as U.S. examples. Students will carry out independent research and analysis projects.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 231 (TH; US) Native North American Cultures (1)

This course offers a survey of the dynamic, changing cultures of Native North America, from the time of the first peopling of the continent to the present day. The approach emphasizes the diversity of these cultures, as well as the complexity of the relationships between Native American and non-native peoples. Particular attention given to Oregon and the Northwest.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society; Thinking Historically

Prerequisite: ANTH 150 recommended

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 232 (US) Peoples and Cultures of Africa (1)

This course explores Africa's cultural diversity from an interdisciplinary perspective. To situate specific African groups in their local and global context, the course begins with a study of African geography and history. The bulk of the course is then devoted to the study of present-day Africa, including ethnographic studies on language, literature, social organization, religion, politics and popular culture. The last unit of the class focuses on the causes and consequences of Africa's current upheavals and humanitarian crises.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Millen

ANTH 233 (US) Peoples & Cultures of Asia (1)

This course represents an application of the anthropological perspective (an emphasis on field-collected data and the common patterns of culture and social life) to the study of the development and contemporary life of societies in Asia, including India, China and Thailand. Specific topics include kinship and family structures, adaptations to the natural environment, political and economic structures, religion, expressive culture and the arts, processes of urbanization and industrialization, and issues of social change.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 235 Cultures of Mexico and Ecuador (1)

This course focuses on the cultures of Mexico and Ecuador, with the primary focus being on Mexico, including the experience of Mexican-Americans. Topics include ethnicity, gender, class, religion, healing, immigration, and politics. Many of the units are organized around first-person accounts, as read through the lens of anthropological theories.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Wogan

ANTH 243 Ethnomusicology (1)

This course considers music in social and cultural context, with attention to the functions, forms and meanings of music as an aspect of human behavior. Introduces techniques for the cross-cultural study of music. Examples are drawn from a number of musical traditions, primarily from the non-Western world.

Prerequisite: No prerequisites, though ANTH 150 or training in Music is recommended

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 247 Islam in America (1)

Islam interacts with American life in numerous ways, both obvious and subtle. This course seeks to trace the presence of Muslim Americans from the earliest days of American history, while exploring issues of race, gender, and religious freedom in an increasingly pluralistic yet (paradoxically?) polarized nation.

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Khan

ANTH 258 (US) Selected Area Studies (1)

This course enables faculty and students to study a specific geographic or cultural area not normally covered in existing curricula. Anthropological perspectives will be applied to such topics as history, environment, family, religion, popular culture and the arts, and current issues in the area under study. Designation of specific area focus will be made at the time of the course offering. Foci, readings, and assignments will vary with instructor. May be repeated for credit with different area focus.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 303 Museum Studies Seminar (1)

This seminar is designed to introduce students to the field of museum anthropology and to the theoretical and practical dimensions of museum studies. As an applied research experience, it offers the opportunity to do hands-on work with the Native American collection and exhibition program at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Topics include the application of contemporary anthropological theory to work in museums, particularly in terms of issues of cultural representation, ethics, fieldwork, and museum display. Students will learn and apply skills in collections and archival management, exhibition development, and museum public programming.

Prerequisite: ANTH 231 or ANTH 351, and consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 335 Visual Anthropology (1)

This course focuses on a variety of visual texts, from documentary films about non-Western cultures to fiction films made in the U.S. Special emphasis is placed on questions about visual representations of other cultures, and the way audience responses to visual texts reflect cultural values. Students will carry out independent fieldwork projects, in some cases making use of video-recording technologies.

Prerequisite: One previous anthropology course or ENGL 336; preference given to Anthropology Majors and Minors

  • Offering: Every third semester
  • Instructor: Wogan

ANTH 344 Medical Anthropology (1)

This course introduces students to medical anthropology. By exploring human health, sickness and healing from diverse theoretical and cross-cultural perspectives, students will learn how different peoples around the world: conceptualize the human body, explain the causes of disease, manage patients and healers, contend with stress, and articulate the meaning and origin of social suffering. The course has a service learning component.

Prerequisite: One course in Anthropology and/or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Millen

ANTH 345 Sex and Gender in Anthropological Perspective (1)

An examination of gender and sex cross-culturally and in evolutionary perspective. Some of the topics we may consider include women and men in prehistory; notions of masculinity, femininity; transgenderism and same-sex sexualities; love, marriage, and family; sexual divisions of labor and economic organization; women's and men's involvement in ritual and religion; and impact of sociocultural change and globalization of sex and gender.

Prerequisite: No prerequisite, though ANTH 150 or courses in Women's Studies are recommended.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 351 (AR) Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and the Environment (1)

This course focuses upon environmental and human rights issues affecting indigenous peoples worldwide. Using the cross-cultural, comparative and field-based perspectives that distinguish anthropology, this course examines some of the most pressing problems facing the world's indigenous peoples, explores strategies used by these groups in facing human rights and environmental violations, and offers students the opportunity to study about and take action on these issues. Case studies of specific indigenous groups will be drawn from different world areas, including North and South America, Africa, Oceania and Asia.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons and Values; Indigenous Peoples and Cultures Cluster; Environmental Cluster

Prerequisite: prior course work in Anthropology or Environmental Studies required

  • Offering: Alternate years in Spring
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 353 Myth, Ritual and Religion (1)

Religion is found in some form in every culture and the discipline of anthropology has been much concerned with exploring and understanding the global diversity of religious expression. This course introduces the cross-cultural study of myth, ritual and religion through case studies drawn from around the world.

Prerequisite: Prior course work in Anthropology or Religion recommended

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Dobkins, Moro

ANTH 355 Warfare, Violence and Peace (1)

This course will critically examine anthropological theories about the causes, functions, and meanings of warfare, violence, and peace. In particular, the following topics will be addressed: 1) the causes and nature of warfare according to competing theories from materialist, functionalist, symbolic, and biological perspectives; 2) the function and meaning of headhunting, cannibalism, human sacrifice, torture, gang violence, and organized crime; 3) changes from violent to peaceful practices. Various case studies will be examined, with special emphasis on small-scale societies.

Prerequisite: One previous course in anthropology

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Wogan

ANTH 356 (W) Language and Culture (1)

This course introduces students to the major issues and methodologies in the study of language in its cultural context. In particular, the course focuses on linguistic questions related to the following: 1) gender; 2) power; 3) ethnic, racial, and national identifies; 4) literacy; 5) poetic, verbal performance; and 6) intercultural communication. Analysis often centers on video and cassette texts from films, conversations, and the students' own fieldwork data.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Previous coursework in Anthropology recommended

  • Offering: Every third semester
  • Instructor: Wogan

ANTH 358 Special Topics in Anthropology (1)

This course provides the flexibility to offer special topics of interest in anthropology. The course may study a particular subfield of anthropology, or a particular anthropological problem in depth.

Prerequisite: ANTH 150 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 361 (W) Ethnographic Methods (1)

A practical writing-centered introduction to the field techniques of anthropology, with an emphasis on student-conducted research. Topics include ethics, rapport, gathering and recording data (focusing upon techniques of participant-observation and interviewing), writing description and qualitative analysis. Each student will design and carry out an independent, semester-long research project. This course is intended for anthropology minors and majors.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: ANTH 371

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Moro, Millen

ANTH 371 Survey of Anthropological Theory (1)

This course surveys the history of anthropological theory, with an emphasis upon contemporary schools and movements within the discipline. Topics range from the nineteenth-century intellectual history of the discipline to current trends and critiques in anthropology. Appropriate for students of anthropology and others interested in cultural studies or theory in the social sciences.

Prerequisite: ANTH 150 plus one other Anthropology course, Junior or Senior status

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Dobkins, Wogan

ANTH 394 Internship in Anthropology (1)

This course provides an opportunity for practical experience (minimum 12 hours per week) in an off-campus setting related to the study of anthropology and to the student's emerging research and professional interests. The student will be supervised by an on-site professional as well as a faculty member. A paper, journal, and periodic consultations with the faculty member are required. The course does not fulfill the senior experience requirement.

Prerequisite: The internship is open to advanced majors in anthropology only; completion of ANTH 371 and ANTH 361 are recommended.

  • Offering: Fall/Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 490 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

This course provides the opportunity to conduct a major research project which cannot otherwise be pursued through any existing course in the department's curriculum. Students must have standing in anthropology and will work under faculty supervision. This course cannot replace ANTH 499 (W) Senior Seminar.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 499 (W) Senior Seminar (1)

Students will read and discuss current research in anthropology. Each student will write and present a major paper.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in ANTH 361 (W) and senior standing

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff