One of the colleges that I adjunct at recently had an external reviewer come through to help them get some advice about how to structure (among other things) their intro course. On the one hand, the department wants to attempt to standardize their introduction to cultural anthropology course so students will all be on the same page when they arrive in upper level classes. On the other hand each professor teaches the course differently and is unwilling to change — in particular, no one is willing to adopt a singe textbook. The reviewer suggested that one way to split the difference would be to come up with a core set of articles which all professors could pick and chose from. I find the idea of developing a core set of ‘the articles every intro student should read’ a fascinating project.
I’m having trouble coming up with good answers about what should be on it, however, and have mostly come up with things that are either canonical or just good and deserving of more attention. But this is what I’ve got so far (remember, I live in Polynesia, and this affects my list):
“Haole Girl: Identity and White Privilege in Hawai’i” Judy Rohrter (being white in Hawaii)
“100% American” Ralph Linton (a two page handout on the ubiquity of diffused culture traits in the US)
“Empathy, or, Seeing From Within” Robert Lowie (nice overview of the concept of cultural relativism)
“”Indigenous Knowledge and Academic Imperialism”:http://www.hawaii.edu/cpis/files/IndigKnow.pdf” by Vilsoni Hereniko (the politics of studying Pacific culture)
“Our Sea of Islands” Epeli Hau’ofa (key text about how to envision the Pacific)
“Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women” by Susan Moller Okin and the two responses “My Culture Made Me Do It” (Bonnie Honnig) and “Is Western Feminism Good For Third World Women?” (Azizah Al-Hibri) a good dialogue about the tension between relativism and activism. Also good for teaching arguments.
“Growth and Decay: Bedamini Notions of Sexuality” by Arve Sorum (if you want one article on male homosexual initiation to get the ball rolling on gender issues, this is for you)
“Once a knight is quite enough,” Edmund Leach (a nice informal piece on how ritual works)
“ “Science and Race”:http://personal.uncc.edu/jmarks/pubs/race.pdf ” Jonathan Marks (good potted version of the anthropological critique of race)
“Abominations of Leviticus,” by Mary Douglas (classic paper on taboo and pollution)
What would you put on your list? Please note: we already know about the Nacirema, Shakespeare in the Bush, and Balinese Cockfights.