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Introduction to anthropology

Associate teachers


ECTS credits


Number of hours: Lectures + Seminars + Exercises

30 / 15 / 0

Course objectives

This course is a general introduction to the four fields of anthropology that looks at how the anthropologists study cultural and biological aspects of humankind with special emphasis on cognitive anthropology, which has developed as an interdisciplinary approach within the fields of cultural and biological anthropology. The course presents basic anthropological research on knowledge creation and sharing, transmission and innovation inside different societies and cultures across places and times.

The course covers topics such as evolution and developmental processes, onset of political systems and economic systems, population dynamics, social organization and kinship, modes of communication, medicine, globalization, anthropocene, power relations, climate change, and ethics. This course covers cross-cultural ethnographic data from various cultures and contexts.

Enrolment requirements and/or entry competences required for the course


Learning outcomes at the level of the programme to which the course contributes

  • Integrate insights, methods, and levels of analysis across different disciplines into a unified framework for understanding the human mind and cognition in general.
  • Communicate effectively in the business environment and in broader public contexts.
  • Build communication channels and enable the flow of innovative ideas towards professionals employed in related scientific disciplines and industry.
  • Plan and track personal professional growth.

Course content (syllabus)

  • What is anthropology?
  • Nature/nurture debate
  • Doing anthropology
  • History and development of anthropology
  • Four fields of anthropology and cognitive anthropology as an interdisciplinary approach
  • Evolution, genetics, and human variation
  • Development of economic systems: cognition and subsistence
  • Development of political systems: cognition and control of power
  • Language and (mass) communication
  • Processes of knowledge creation inside cultures
  • Knowledge, experience, behavior
  • Applied anthropology
  • Anthropocene: the human epoch
  • Humans, environment and climate change
  • Beyond humans

Student responsibilities

Class attendance, seminar presentation, written exam

Required literature

  • Kottak, Conrad Philip. 2015. Anthropology: Appreciating Human Diversity. McGraw-Hill Publishing.
  • Haviland, William H. 2016. Essence of Anthropology. Cengage Learning.
  • Lavenda, Robert H. 2016. Anthropology. Oxford University Press.
  • Kronenfeld, David B.; Bennardo, Giovanni; de Munck, Victor C; Fisher, Michael D. 2011. A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell.

Optional literature

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