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    Vassar College
  Jan 21, 2018
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ANTH 170 - Topics in Anthropology

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)

Introduction to anthropology through a focus on a particular issue or aspect of human experience. Topics vary, but may include Anthropology through Film, American Popular Culture, Extinctions, Peoples of the World. The department.

Topic for 2017/18a: Anthropology of Water. Many anthropologists study water as a focus of political contention and environmental impetus to action. But cultural anthropology’s special contribution to water studies may be its insights into how water is valued, socially and affectively, in culturally and historically different ways. Water is necessary for human life. But it is always, also, meaningful in a remarkable range of ways that do not necessarily begin with scarcity, nor end with any one universal goal, even health or profit. Focusing on the relation between drinking water and wider cultural systems, the course introduces three approaches to drinking water: (1) Semiotics of Bottled Water includes readings from the anthropology of food and beverage, consumer culture, and meaning-making in everyday life. (2) Water as Global Commodity considers water in the context of the anthropology of gifts and commodities. (3) Water Projects considers state, corporate, and activist discourses about water with attention to anthropological studies of social and environmental impacts. The course includes (group) projects on water in local cultural contexts. Martha Kaplan.

Open only to first-year students; satisfies the college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

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