SemesterFall Semester, 2023
DepartmentInternational Master's Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, First Year International Master's Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, Second Year
Course NameBeing Human: Ethnography and Anthropological Perspective
InstructorHO HAO-TZU
Course TypeElective
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule

Week 1 Introduction & Logistics


Week 2 Anthropological Perspective and Cross-cultural Comparison

Reference Readings

  1. Kuper, A. 1983 Anthropology and Anthropologists: the Modern British School. London: Routledge.

  2. Leach, E 1966 “Chapter 1” of Rethinking Anthropology, London, Berg.

  3. Bock, K. E. (1966). The Comparative Method of Anthropology. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 8(3), 269–280.

  4. Borofsky, Robert. 2019. Where Have the Comparisons Gone? Society for Cultural Anthropology.


Week 3 Ethnographic Methodology: An Approach Both Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Reference Readings

  1. Moore, H.L. & T. Sanders (eds.) 2006 Anthropology in Theory: Issues in Epistemology.

  2. M. Bloch, How We Think They Think (1998).

  3. Clifford, James. 1988. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Chapter 12, 277-346: Identity in Mashpee.

  4. Holland, Dorothy, and Kevin Leander. 2004. Ethnographic Studies of Positioning and Subjectivity: An Introduction. Ethos 32(2): 127-139.



Week 4 Phenomenology of Humanity: Death, Living and the Person

Required Readings

  1. Shweder, R.A., Bourne, E.J. (1982). Does the Concept of the Person Vary Cross-Culturally?. In: Marsella, A.J., White, G.M. (eds) Cultural Conceptions of Mental Health and Therapy. Culture, Illness, and Healing, vol 4.

  2. Astuti, R. (2008) What happens after death? In Astuti, R., Parry, J. & Stafford, C. (eds) Questions of anthropology, pp. 227-247. Berg.

  3. Kaufman, Sharon R., and Lynn M. Morgan. 2005. The Anthropology of the Beginnings and Ends of Life. Annual Review of Anthropology 34:317–341.

  4. Conklin, B. and L. Morgan. 1996. Babies, Bodies, and the Production of Personhood in North America and a Native Amazonian Society. Ethos 24(4):657-694.



Week 5 National Holiday (10th October). No Class.


Week 6             Memory, Self and Society

Required Readings

  1. Spiro, M. E. (1993). Is the Western conception of the self ‘peculiar’ within the context of the world cultures? Ethos 21(2): 107-153.

  2. Ewing, Katherine P. 1990. The Illusion of Wholeness: Culture, Self, and the Experience of Inconsistency. Ethos 18(3): 251-278.

  3. Kenny, M. G. (1999). A Place for Memory: The Interface between Individual and Collective History. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 41(3), 420–437.

  4. Gila S. Silverman, Aurélien Baroiller & Susan R. Hemer (2021) Culture and grief: Ethnographic perspectives on ritual, relationships and remembering, Death Studies, 45:1, 1-8.


Week 7             Kinship, Relationships and Relatedness

Required Readings

  1. Carsten, J. 2004. Introduction: After Kinship? Chapter 1 from After Kinship, pp. 1-30.

  2. Carsten, J. 1995. The Substance of Kinship and the Heat of the Hearth: Feeding, Personhood, and Relatedness among Malays in Pulau Langkawi. American Ethnologist 22, no. 2: 223-241.

  3. Carrier, J. 1999. People Who Can Be Friends: Selves and Social Relationships. In S. Bell & S. Coleman (eds) The Anthropology of Friendship.

  4. Jackson, M. 2002. Familiar and foreign bodies: a phenomenological exploration of the human-technology interface. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8(2): 333-46.


Week 8 Religion and Spirituality

Required Readings

  1. Boyer, P (2000) Functional origins of religious concepts: ontological and strategic selection in evolved minds. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 6: 195-214.

  2. Barrett, J. L. (2000). Exploring the natural foundations of religion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4: 29-34.

  3. Cassaniti, J. L., & Luhrmann, T. M. (2014). The Cultural Kindling of Spiritual Experiences. Current Anthropology, 55(S10), S333–S343.


Week 9  Emotion, feeling and Affect

Required Readings

  1. Beatty, A. (2005). Emotions in the Field: What Are We Talking About? The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 11(1), 17–37.

  2. Danilyn Rutherford. 2016. Affect Theory and the Empirical. Annual Review of Anthropology 45:1, 285-300.

  3. Skoggard, I. and Waterston, A. (2015), Introduction: Toward an Anthropology of Affect and Evocative Ethnography. Anthropology of Conscious, 26: 109-120.

  4. Sangren, P. S. 2004. Psychoanalysis and Its Resistances in Michel Foucault's "The

History of Sexuality": Lessons for Anthropology. Ethos 32, no. 1: 110-122.


Week 10           Field Trip & Writing Fieldnotes


Week 11           Treatment & Healing

Required Readings

  1. SIDKY, H. (2009), A Shaman's Cure: The Relationship Between Altered States of Consciousness and Shamanic Healing. Anthropology of Consciousness, 20: 171-197.

  2. Ismael Apud & Oriol Romaní (2020) Medical anthropology and symbolic cure: from the placebo to cultures of meaningful healing, Anthropology & Medicine, 27:2, 160-175.

  3. Moerman, D. E. (1979). Anthropology of Symbolic Healing. Current Anthropology, 20(1), 59–80.


Week 12           Alternative Therapies

Required Readings

  1. Marcus, O. (2022), Consume and Transform: Perfumes and healing in vegetalista healing practices of the Peruvian Amazon. Anthropology of Conscious.

  2. Charles D. Laughlin (2018) Meditation across cultures: a neuroanthropological approach, Time and Mind, 11:3, 221-257.

  3. Cook, J. and Cassaniti, J. (2022), Mindfulness and culture. Anthropology Today, 38: 1-3.

  4. Myers, N., Lewis, S. & Dutton, M.A. Open Mind, Open Heart: An Anthropological Study of the Therapeutics of Meditation Practice in the US. Cult Med Psychiatry 39, 487–504 (2015).


Week 13           Happiness & Well-being

Required Readings

  1. ORTNER, S. 2016. Dark anthropology and its others: theory since the eighties. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6, 47–73.

  2. JOHNSTON, B., E. COLSON, D. FALK, ET AL. 2012. On Happiness. American Anthropologist 114, 6–18.

  3. MOORE, H. L. 1990. ‘Visions of the good life’: anthropology and the study of utopia. Cambridge Anthropology 14, 13–33.


Week 14           Empathy & Hope

Required Readings

  1. Geertz, C (1983) “`From the native’s point of view’: On the nature of anthropological understanding” originally published in Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 28, No. 1. (1974), pp. 26-45.

  2. C. JASON THROOP. “Suffering, Empathy, and Ethical Modalities of Being in Yap (Waqab), Federated States of Micronesia.” The Anthropology of Empathy. 1st ed. Berghahn Books, 2011.

  3. CHUA, J. L. 2014. In pursuit of the good life: aspiration and suicide in globalizing South India. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Week 15           Case Study Presentation 1


Week 16           Case Study Presentation 2


Week 17            Flexible Supplementary Teaching Week: Self-directed Integrated Learning.


Week 18           Flexible Supplementary Teaching Week: Completing the Term Paper.

Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant

To be confirmed.


  1. Attendance & Participation (25%)

  1. Class Participation (10%)

  2. Field Trip & Fieldnotes (15%)


  1. Required Readings (35%)

  1. Group Presentation (20%)

  2. Individual Reading Notes (15%)


  1. Case study (Individual) (40%)

  1. Oral Presentation (20%)

  2. Written Work (20%)

Textbook & Reference

  1. C. Strauss and N Quinn, A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning (1997)

  2. M. Bloch, How We Think They Think (1998)

  3. D. Sperber, Explaining Culture (1996)

  4. M. Cole, Cultural Psychology (1996)

  5. M. Tomasello, The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (1999)

  6. P. Boyer, Religion Explained (2001).

  7. E. Hutchins, Cognition in the Wild.

  8. J. Lave, Cognition in Practice.

  9. R. Astuti, G. Solomon and S. Carey, Constraints on Conceptual Development.

  10. CHUA, J. L. 2014. In pursuit of the good life: aspiration and suicide in globalizing South India. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  11. DAVIES, W. 2015. The happiness industry: how the government and big business sold us well-being. London: Verso.

  12. FISCHER, E. F. 2014. The good life: aspiration, dignity, and the anthropology of wellbeing. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  13. JOHNSTON, B., E. COLSON, D. FALK, ET AL. 2012. On Happiness. American Anthropologist 114, 6–18.

  14. KAVED?IJA, I. & H. WALKER (eds) 2016. Values of happiness: toward an anthropology of purpose in life. Chicago: HAU Books.

  15. MATHEWS, G. & C. IZQUIERDO 2009. Pursuits of happiness: well-being in anthropological perspective. New York: Berghahn Books.

  16. MOORE, H. L. 1990. ‘Visions of the good life’: anthropology and the study of utopia. Cambridge Anthropology 14, 13–33.

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