Cultural anthropology has been called the study of oddities by eccentrics. Who would marry more than one man at a time, or their dead husband’s brother, or a ghost? What impels a person to hunt heads, become a suicide bomber, or turn others into zombies? And why would anyone leave behind their family and all the comforts of home ─ living in an unfamiliar setting, often for years at a time ─ just to ponder the complicated answers to those questions?
This introductory course in cultural anthropology revolves around two related themes. The first concerns what sense we can make of the extraordinary diversity (in terms of language, play, art, myth, ritual, worldview, politics, economics, and forms of relatedness) found among different human groups. The second takes into account the ethnographic perspective--interacting with people and participating in their way of life ─ and what such engagement can teach us about our society, our culture, and ourselves.