One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Flash back to Anthropology 101

on March 28, 2013

As I am building my summer thesis reading list, I was going through my books that I haven’t seen or read since my first anthropology class at University of Mary Washington in 2009. This brought back some memories of being exposed to anthropology the first time and Dr. Eric Gable. Before that class, I was interested in archaeology but the only thing that UMW offered was a major in Historic Preservation that included archaeology courses, but when I took Anthropology 101 I fell in love with the cultural subdiscipline.

Professor Gable made it interesting and at the same time exposed many students to a new world. I do have to say this is one of my most memorable classes. But as I was saying before, the books that were required for that class were:

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These three books really opened my eyes to the world of anthropology and what anthropologists could study.

Return to Laughter is an anthropological novel that is based upon one anthropologist’s study and first year in the field with a remote African  tribe, the Tiv, and the exploration of witchcraft within the culture. This fictional approach to anthropology, portrays human dimension,  recounting an anthropologist’s failures and triumphs in the field, and how she has to adapt to this new environment. Although it is fiction, it relates very well to the challenges that many anthropologists must face and undergo through their own research.

Fraternity Gang Rape – is an analysis of how all-male groups like fraternities create a rape culture. This is very powerful, but chilling book that goes into rape culture and how it is formed, but this book shed light upon how this problem continues today. We have all seen it in the new with university athletic groups gang raping women. As I stated before this is a chilling book and can make/has made some people feel uncomfortable., but it is one of those many truths that exist within our society.

The Sambia: Ritual, Sexuality, and Change in Papua New Guinea – This book caused many people to drop out of a class (many males) and I was surprised that this was assigned to an intro to anthropology class. Regardless of that fact, I enjoyed this book like I did the others. This book goes into the initiation rites and rites of passage from childhood to adulthood, boys to men through ritual. As the title suggests, the rituals within this culture defines the change from a boy’s childhood to adulthood as well as defines his sexuality. It is important to keep in mind, that in many cultures sexuality is defined within the cultural construct. In many cultures boys, even though are born the sex male, are considered a gendered female until they go through an initiation ritual that allows him to be considered a gendered male. Without going too much into this books because it is worth the read, this book allows the readers to see how different other cultures are compared to our own and the subject of gender vs sex.

These books were really intense for an introduction level, but the idea of that class was to weed out anyone who was not serious about being an anthropology major. I see that now and it worked. I haven’t read these in a while, so if I have time I will be reading these again. But please check these out, they are great anthropology works!

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One response to “Flash back to Anthropology 101

  1. Prometheus says:

    The books seems quite interesting. Especially “Fraternity Gang Rape”. I’ve always been an admirer of good books and thank you for opening my eyes as well.

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