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Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Anthropology 103 is an introduction to some of the major topics and issues that concern social and cultural anthropologists today. It complements Anth 102: Anthropological Perspectives, offered in the second semester, which deals with a separate range of anthropological issues. Together, Anth 102 and 103 constitute a comprehensive introduction to anthropology and students intending to major in anthropology should do both of them. Both Anth 102 and Anth 103 also complement our other 100-level courses, Anth 104: Endangered Peoples (offered in 2011) and Anth 105: Human Evolution, offered this semester. Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay.



Tutorial participation (attendance and preparation of notes) 15%

Class test: Wednesday31 March 15%

Essay: due on Friday 21 May 20%

Exam (date t.b.a.) 50%

Satisfactory participation in tutorials will require the preparation of written notes (approximately one page of 300 words per tutorial) based on the tutorial reading. Most tutorials involve participation in small-group work, and adequate preparation is essential. You are required to take a hard copy of the notes to the tutorial so that you can consult it during discussions. The notes will be collected and recorded but not assessed, but the mark for ‘tutorial participation’ is based on both the hard copy handed in to the tutor and on your attendance at the tutorial. The essay (see p. 7) should be typed, double spaced, and around 2000 words in length. Learn contains a guide to essay writing and a referencing guide which you must read.Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

The class test will be based entirely on material dealt with in tutorials and lectures, including the relevant readings in the course reader (weekly readings as well as tutorial readings). The exam will be based on all aspects of the course – readings, lectures, tutorials and videos. For details on assessment policy, aegrotats, extensions, etc., see Learn.

Course reader and Tutorial readings:

Part One of the Course Reader contains the weekly readings relevant to the weekly lectures. Tutorial readings are found in Part Two of the course reader. Students are also advised to consult the Anthropology and other social science encyclopaedias in the reference section of the Central Library.


There is a recommended text book for this course, available from the University book shop. It is Monaghan, J and Just, P. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, 2000. There is also a course Reader. It contains readings relevant to both lectures and tutorials but not readings from the recommended text book.Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Other recommended texts (on short loan in the library):

Metcalf, Peter Anthropology: The Basics. Routledge 2005.

Eriksen, Thomas Hyland Small Places, Large Issues. Second edition. London: Pluto Press. 2001.

Internet resources:

Learn contains everything you need to know about the course (see and also has links to a number of sites of interest to anthropologists.

Course overview: Anth 103 introduces students to a range of topics aimed at enabling them to critically examine the nature and role of culture in constructing a sense of individual and collective identity, and how this is related to various forms of power. Culture is viewed as a system of symbols that provide meaning, manifested in language, in notions of space and place, in art, in ritual, and in other material things such as food and dress. The course explores the role of symbols and rituals in the construction of culture. It demonstrates how ideas about culture may form the basis of group formation, ethnic and national identity, and how many forms of social action (including conflict between groups) may be understood as ‘the politics of culture’ in which there are struggles for identity and power. Culture and identity are frequently acted out or performed in ritual and other forms of public action, and the notion of ‘performance’ is introduced and developed in relation to the construction and demonstration of identity. The course illustrates the diverse nature of the ways in which humans perform identity and how these topics are of interest and relevance to countries such as New Zealand. In this sense it demonstrates how anthropology is relevant in today’s world, by showing how an anthropological approach may be applied to contemporary social issues. Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay_____________________________________________________________________­­

Lecture programme


Week 1 – 22 February

We start, this week and next, with an introduction to socio-cultural anthropology, its perspectives and its methods. Certain basic anthropological concerns are introduced. These include the nature of culture and society, and the ways in which humans organise themselves socially (weeks 2 and 3). In later weeks we see that time, space, the body and material culture form important components of this, as do ritual and power. In this respect the importance of symbols and meaning are emphasised, before we move on (in the second half of the course) to the question of ritual and ritual performance, through which culture is expressed, identities constructed and maintained, and power relationships acted out and reflected upon. Ritual performances, then, turn out to be basic to understanding the nature of social identity and the politics of culture, and vice versa. Videos and video clips are used to provide visual illustrations and food for thought.Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

1. Welcome and introduction – what is socio-cultural anthropology, and why study it? Academic members of the UC anthropology programme and what they do.

2. The anthropological approach: Ethnographic fieldwork

Video: Off the Verandah (Malinowski)

Readings: Monaghan and Just 2000 (ch1); Eriksen 2001, ch 3.

No tutorial this week.


Week 2 – 1 March

3. Culture and society: Video: The Kawelka: Ongka’s Big Moka

4. Culture, symbols, society, meaning: Video: Dogtown and Z boys

Readings: Monaghan and Just 2000 (chs 2 & 3); Hendry, 1999, ch 1.

Tutorial – Metcalf refers to the ‘culture shock’ experienced by anthropological fieldworkers. How is this illustrated by Richard Lee’s experience of Christmas in the Kalahari?Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Metcalf 2005, ch1; Lee 2000.


Week 3 – 8 March

5. Symbols, identity and power: Video: Dogtown and Z boys (contd.)

6. Reflections and consolidation: Dogtown, the Kawelka, and the anthropological approach

Reading: Delaney 2004, pp. 323-332

Tutorial – It has been suggested that culture consists of meanings conveyed by symbols. Your tutorial notes should address the following questions: What is a symbol? How do symbols convey meaning? Why is symbolism central to understanding culture and society?

Hendry 1999, Ch 5.Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay


Week 4 – 15 March

7. Material culture – the things that matter

8. Economic anthropology – The Potlatch. Video: Box of Treasures

Readings: Monaghan and Just 2000 (ch 6); Piddocke 1965

Tutorial – Body ritual in New Zealand society: How does body ritual and the associated material things in your own home compare with the lengths to which the Nacirema go to ensure bodily purity?

Miner 2000.


Week 5 – 22 March

9. Time and space

10. The politics of culture. Video: Basques of Santazi

Readings: Bourdieu 1973

Tutorial – Maria Tam considers yumcha to be a typically Hong Style of eating. What is the connection between food, time and place in this instance? Can you think of other examples of close associations between a particular national or regional identity and specific foods or eating styles?Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Tam 1997.


Week 6 – 29 March

11. The politics of culture (contd)

12. Class test.

Readings: Monaghan and Just 2000 (ch 5); Atran 2007.

Tutorial – Race and culture: Why is race a discredited concept in biology? And if it is discredited, why is it relevant to anthropologists? Check it out in your tutorial readings, then go to the library and look through last week’s New Zealand and Australian newspapers for articles that refer to race, race differences, or similar issues and bring the article with you to the tutorial for discussion, along with your notes.Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Metcalf 2005, ch 2; Diamond 1999.


Mid semester break


Week 7 – 26 April

13. Nationalism and ethnicity: Ethnicity and the politics of culture in New Zealand

14. Aesthetics, identity and society

Readings: Eriksen 2001, ch 17-18; Hendry 1999, ch 6

Tutorial: Discuss and evaluate Kolig’s analysis of the links between culture, ethnicity, politics and power in New Zealand. Kolig 2009.


Week 8 – 3 May

15. Religion and Ritual

16. Ritual and the life-cycle

Readings: Monaghan and Just 2000 (ch 7); Hendry 1999 (ch 4)

Tutorial – What are the characteristics of the ‘liminal’ stage of rites of passage?Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Turner 2000.


Week 9 – 10 May

17. Rites of Passage. Video: Masai Manhood

18. Masai ritual, politics and power

Readings: Turnbull 1993 (Ch 10)

Tutorial – How did Moeran’s attention to the ritualised consumption of alcohol and to ‘drinking talk’ help him to understand power relations in the Japanese community that he studied?

Moeran 1998.


Week 10 – 17 May

19. Ritual, identity, power – witches, sorcerers, and oracles

Video: “Strange Beliefs” (Evan-Pritchard)

20. Magic and shamanism

Video: “Off the Verandah” (Malinowski)

Readings: Beattie 1964, pp. 139-151

Tutorial – What is ‘globalization’ and why are anthropologists interested in it?

Eriksen 2001, ch 19.


Week 11 – 24 May

21. Cultural performance

22. Performing identity: Video – Trobriand Cricket

Readings: Bauman 1992

Tutorial – What are the ways in which you ‘perform’ your identity? How are such performances related to your nationality, age, gender, education and ethnicity?Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Fernea and Fernea 2000


Week 12 – 31 May

23. Cultural performance and public ritual in New Zealand: ANZAC Day

24. Conclusion, course overview, exam details

Readings: Delaney 2004, 376-391

Tutorial – Revision and consolidation


Essay; due on Friday 21 May (2000 words, typed)

Choose ONE of the following topics.

1. Discuss the usefulness or otherwise of regarding Pakeha/Maori relations as relations between ‘ethnic’ groups. Use the media to make reference to contemporary issues and controversies in your answer.

Banks, M. Ethnicity : Anthropological Constructions. London; New York : Routledge. 1996.

Eriksen, T. H. Ethnicity and Nationalism : Anthropological Perspectives. London: Pluto. 1993.

Kolig, E. “Romancing Culture and its Limitations: Policies of Cultural Recognition, Multiculturalism and Cultural Boundaries in New Zealand.” In The Politics of Conformity in New Zealand, edited by R. Openshaw and E. Rata. Auckland: Pearson. 2009.

Kottak, C. Anthropology: The Exploration of Human Diversity. 9th edition. McGraw Hill. 2002. Ch 12.

Barber, K. “Pakeha Ethnicity and Indigeneity.” Social Analysis, 43, 2. 1999

Spoonley, P & Pearson, C. Nga Patai: Racism and Ethnic Relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press. 1996. (Chapters by Bell and Spoonley).Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

2. Anthropology is said to be concerned with the contemporary study of ‘culture’ and ‘society’. What do these two terms mean, and in what ways are they connected?

Barnard, A. and J. Spencer Encyclopaedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: Routledge. 1996. (Make use of other Anthropology encyclopaedias as well).


Metcalf, Peter.   Anthropology: The Basics.   Abingdon/New York: Routledge. 2005.

Bailey, James and Peoples, Garrick. Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. 6th edition. Belmont, Ca.: Thomson/Wadsworth. 2003

Hendry, Joy. An Introduction to Social Anthropology. London: MacMillan Press. 1999.

Eriksen, Thomas Hyland. Small Places, Large Issues. Second edition. London: Pluto Press. 2001

Beattie, John. Other Cultures. London:Routledge. 1964.

3. The body, it is said, is not a natural thing but a cultural one. The body is implicated in ritual and performance, and it is an important source of symbolism in most societies. Discuss.

Delaney, Carol. An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology. Malden/Oxford. 2004, chs 6-8. Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay

Hendry, Joy. An Introduction to Social Anthropology. London: MacMillan Press. 1999. Ch 5

Bowie, F. The anthropology of religion. Second edition. Oxford Blackwells. 2006. Ch 2.

Hertz, R. Death and the Right Hand. London: Cohen and West. 1960. pp89-116.Entity Ritual and Power an Anthropological Essay


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