This web site was constructed for use by students in ed knipe's courses. In it you will find current course outlines and assignments, helpful web sites, and other information pertinent to course content. Comments, criticisms and praise should be addressed to: eeknipe@vcu.edu.

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Click on the appropriate highlighed name below for your course.

Once you reach the page for the course, you will note that some topics include statements on how to access additional information from the net, or further instructional materials. Some of the web sites are general and require you to make further selections. Others are specific. For the general sites, you might want to do some "surfing." You never know just where these explorations will take you. And if you find any interesting sites, please pass them on to me. New materials are constantly being added to the web.

A few words of CAUTION! When you use search engines such as Yahoo, AltaVista, etc. you may get thousands of hits containing the word or words you selected. How do you tell which are the better ones? A general rule is that sites from universities or governmental sources will probably have more reliable information. But whatever the source, you are reminded that if you use them, they should be properly cited in your written work. For the appropriate format for web citations, go to:


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  Cultural Anthropology

Native American Cultures

Drugs, Society and Culture

World Cultures

Anthropology of Art

Urban Anthropology

Anthropological Theory

Information about ed knipe


Ant. 103: Cultural Anthropology

Course Description: A general survey of Anthropology with emphasis on learning about and from non-Western cultures.

 Course Goals: The objective of this course is to introduce students to the work of anthropologists. American Anthropology is divided into four areas of study, each concerned with a particular human attribute. Physical or biological Anthropology focuses on humans as biological beings and attempts to answer questions concerning our evolution, and the distribution of physical characteristics of present-day human populations. The field of archeology takes as its task the reconstruction of human history through the analysis of artifacts that remain from cultures, which no longer exist. Anthropological linguistics covers a wide range of specific topics, but in general involves the study of symbol using in humans, from the characteristics of language to the use of language in everyday life. In their search for universal principles of culture, social and/or cultural anthropologists describe and analyze the behaviors and beliefs of peoples from all over the world.

 Pedagogical Approach: Pedagogue is a Greek word that referred to a slave who escorted children to school. In keeping with this definition, I shall escort you to anthropology. My part in this process will be to give a series of lectures on specific topics for each of the four areas of Anthropology. In addition, you will be expected to read assigned materials from the text. Some of the topics on which I lecture are also in your text; other topics are not. Conversely, some materials presented in your text are not covered in my lectures. Your task will be to listen to lectures and read the text. As a measure of your understanding of lecture and text materials, you will be examined. These examinations will consist of a series of both objective and essay questions, which measure your understanding of the anthropological approach. The examinations assume that you know all the information presented in lecture and read in your text, even though the questions may not cover all of these materials. There is no more or less important information; it is all important.

  Course Outline

Topic Reading Assignments
Anthropology: A Quadrupedal Discipline

Click here for information about careers in Anthropology


Chapters 1,7, Appendix

Field Work

Biological Evolution: A Short History

About Charles Darwin

Adaptation and Selection : Sex and Food

Genetics: The Basis of Evolution

Chapter 2

Primates and their Characteristics

For additional information on Primates, click here

Chapters 3 and 4

The Evolution of H.s.s.

For up-to-date discussions of evolution, the fossil record, and other information about hominids, click here

Chapter 5

The Biological Basis of Culture
Human Races and Types

The American Anthropological Association recently drafted a statement on "race." To view this, click here 

Chapter 6

 First Exam

For study questions, click here

Beyond Biology: Extrasomatic Evolution


Chapters 12, 13


From Stone Tools to Stone Tools: The Paleolithic

Chapters 9, 11

Early Graffiti: What Does it Mean?

 A recently discovered cave gallery

Chapter 25

Taming the Earth and Animals
From Stone Tools to Stone Buildings: The Beginnings of Civilization

 The holy city of Nippur The Neolithic Middle East

Chapter 10

Peasantry Found and Peasantry Lost

Chapters 18, 19, 20

Economic Systems: The Gift, Exchange, Money

Chapter 15

  Second Exam

For study questions, click here

What We Say and What We Hear: Anthropological Linguistics


Chapter 8

Kinship Systems: Sex and Food Once Again

For a review of kinship principles, with illustrations from specific cultures, click here. Strongly recommended 

Chapters 14, 16, 17

The Carrot and the Stick: Social Sanctions and Social Control
Magico-Religious Sanctions and Systems

Chapter 24

Understanding Ourselves: The Nacirema America Now:pp: 197, 211, 220, 241, 258, 274, 348, and Nacirema

Third Exam

 For study questions, click here

 The text for this course is: Culture, People, Nature, by Marvin Harris. It is available at the New Virginia Book Store in the basement of the Chesterfield Hotel on the corner of Shafer and Franklin.

 Examinations: Each exam is worth 50 points. Final grades for the course are determined by the following scale:




90-104 =D

Examination Questions: There are different types of examination questions that require different preparation.. I shall use these different types on all examinations. The types, accompanied by examples, are as follows:

Type I: Memory questions. These questions reward the ability to memorize "facts."

Example: The Nuer is a tribal society located in:

A. Asia

B. Australia

C. South America

D. Africa

Type II: Reading questions: These questions demand knowledge of "facts," and reward the ability to read carefully.

Example: Charles Darwin was greatly influenced by the work of Charles Lyell, Gregor Mendel, and Thomas Malthus.

Type III: Application questions: This type of question requires the student to apply information or principles previously learned to an unknown new application.

Example: You have found a skull with a "U" shaped mandible, prominent sagittal crest, large canines, and a small brain. However, the foramen magnum is located well under the skull. From your observations you would suggest:

A. This skull belonged to a modern ape.

B. It was the skull of a linebacker for the Washington Redskins.

C. The foot had a double arch.

D. It had stereoscopic vision, and therefore an early human.

E. none of the above.

 Type I and II questions require preparation that emphasizes learning answers. In contrast, Type III questions are best answered if one constructs questions from readings and lectures. Students sometimes find it helpful if they write questions from their lecture notes and text. If you cannot write a question, this generally indicates that those materials should be reread.


Ant. 350: Peoples and Cultures of the World:



Instructor: Ed Knipe

Office: 313 Lafayette Hall

Phone: (office) 828-6882 (home) 353-0301

e-mail: eknipe@saturn.vcu.edu

Course Description: A detailed comparison of representative Native American cultures using the Human Relations Area Files.

Course Format: Each week students will present an oral report (2 to 5 minutes) on some aspect of "their" culture.

Course Requirements: A typewritten report is due each week on a predetermined topic. Reports will vary in length from one to five or more pages. Reports are due one week after the oral presentation. Within one week of submission, graded reports will be returned with comments and suggestions. Those willing to rewrite reports for a higher grade are encouraged to do so. All reports, whether rewritten or not, must be returned to instructor and become his property. Students should make copies for their files.

Text: William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style. This book should be available at all the university bookstores.

Attendance: Students are expected to attend every class. Students who miss their oral presentation will have their grade on that written report lowered by one letter grade. If a student misses more than three classes, her or his final grade will to lowered one letter grade for each class missed. Unless prior permission is granted, leaving class early will be counted as an unexcused absence.

Tests: There are no scheduled exams. However, the instructor may give unannounced quizzes at his discretion. Depending on how many quizzes are given, each will count as one additional presentation grade. Final grade will be an average of all reports plus quizzes.

 Course Schedule

Week #

1 Lecture: Introduction and the Human Relations Area Files
2 Lecture: The Ethnography Process: Writing Style

3 Geography, climate, demography, land use, settlement patterns.
4  Language and communication systems
5  Technology, food getting, e.g. Hunting and Gathering, Horticulture, Pastoralism, Fishing, Agriculture
6  Architecture: Buildings and construction, building materials, shape, number of rooms, public and residential buildings
7  Economic Systems: Including concepts of property, inheritance, exchange systems, marketing, division of labor, business, industry, food preparation
8  Expressive Culture: Recreation Activities: games, sports, humor, story telling, art, music, painting, dance, oral and written traditions, theater.
10 Social Differentiation: Age and sex distinctions, class, ethnicity, ranking within organizational structures, e.g. church, military, work, education, etc., Life Cycles: childhood, adulthood, old age, sex differences.
11 Kinship rules: marriage, descent, residency, incest taboos, kinship terms
12 Family: Groups based on kinship rules, e.g. nuclear and extended families, lineages, clans
13 Political Systems: Law, social control, political organization and movements, litigation, leadership such as chiefs, "big men," elected officials, systems of order such as police, military
14 Health: Ethnomedicine, ethnopharmacology, theories of sickness and disease, sanitation
15 Religion and Magic: cosmology, mythology, practitioners such as shamans and priests, rituals, witchcraft
16 Secular rituals: Rites of passage and intensification, birth, death, marriage, puberty, (food, postpartum, menstrual and sex taboos),

Format for reports: Reports will be typed (no report will be accepted unless typed) and double spaced. Each report is divided into three sections.

Section 1: Front page. This should contain the student's name, the name of culture, the topic, and the date of submission.

Section 2: The report itself. Liberal use of headings for specific information is urged.

Section 3: Bibliography. All the references used in the report, both from the HRAF and outside sources.

The table below contains the HRAF reference numbers corresponding to each topic

HRAF Numbers Topics
01,13,16,36,62,63 Geography, climate, demography, land use, settlement patterns.
19,20 Language and communication systems
22,23,24,31,32,37,41 Technology, food getting, e.g. Hunting and Gathering, Horticulture, Pastoralism, Fishing, Agriculture
33,34,35  Architecture: Buildings and construction, building materials, shape, number of rooms, public and residential buildings
42,43,44,46,47 Economic Systems: Including concepts of property, inheritance, exchange systems, marketing, division of labor, business, industry, food preparation
52,53,54 Expressive Culture: Recreation Activities: games, sports, humor, story telling, art, music, painting, dance, oral and written traditions, theater.
56,85,88 Social Differentiation: Age and sex distinctions, class, ethnicity, ranking within organizational structures, e.g. church, military, work, education, etc., Life Cycles: childhood, adulthood, old age, sex differences
58,60 Kinship rules: marriage, descent, residency, incest taboos, kinship terms
59,61 Family: Groups based on kinship rules, e.g. nuclear and extended families, lineages, clans
64,65,66,67,68,69,70,72 Political Systems: Law, social control, political organization and movements, litigation, leadership such as chiefs, "big men," elected officials, systems of order such as police, military
74,75 Health: Ethnomedicine, ethnopharmacology, theories of sickness and disease, sanitation
77,78,79 Religion and Magic: cosmology, mythology, practitioners such as shamans and priests, rituals, witchcraft
57,76,84 Secular rituals: Rites of passage and intensification, birth, death, marriage, puberty, (food, postpartum, menstrual and sex taboos),




ANT/SOC. 380:


 Spring 1998

Instructor: Ed Knipe

Phone: Office: 828-6882; Home: 353-0301

Office: 313 Lafayette Hall

E-mail: eknipe@saturn.vcu.edu

 Course Description An examination of the uses and functions of drugs in various cross-cultural settings. As a sociology/anthropology course, there is an emphasis on understanding drug use as "normal" within a broader cultural context. Warning!! The lecture materials from the first week should make it clear that this is not a course in drug "abuse," drug "treatment" or drug pharmacology. It is a course that uses drugs to discuss central issues in sociology and anthropology. If you want to learn about the chemistry of drugs, or are interested in "helping" people with their drug "problems," this may not be the course for you. Consult the VCU catalog or the current Schedule of Classes for course offerings that best suit your needs.

Text The text for this course is: Culture, Society, and Drugs: The Social Science Approach to Drug Use. It is available at Virginia Book Store on the corner of Franklin and Shafer.

 Course Requirements and Grades. Students will be assessed on their understanding of lecture and reading materials by three exam. Each exam will have at least 50 "objective" questions that will be machine graded. In addition, there will be at least one short "extra-credit" essay question per exam. Grades are assigned according to the following scale: A=90-100%; B=80-89%; C=70-79%; D=60-69%; F=59% or less.

 Attendance Policy Students are expected to attend class and participate in class discussion. Three unexcused absences are the maximum permitted. For every two unexcused absences beyond three, the final grade in the course will be reduced by one letter grade. If you have a legitimate reason to miss class, please contact me prior to the absence or immediately upon your return. Please note that leaving class early, without prior notification, will be counted as an unexcused absence.

Course Outline and Reading Assignments
 I. The Social Science Perspective Chap 1, Chap 11
II. Methods and Techniques of Social Science Chap 2
III. Drugs and Learning Chap 3

First Exam

 IV. Diffusion of Drugs Chap 4
V. Social Change and Drug Use Chap 5
VI. Drugs and Culture: The Secular Chap 6
VII. Drugs and Culture: The Sacred Chap 7

Second Exam

VIII. Making a Living: Drugs and Economics Chap 8
IX. Social Control and Drugs Chap 9
X. Drugs and Political Systems Chap 10
XI: Drug Use: A Review of the Social Science Approach Chap 11

 Final Examination


    Ant. 391: Topics: Multicultures. Writing Intensive

This site is under construction.

For a similar course, look at Ant. 350: Native Americans


 Ant. 391: Topics: Urban Anthropology

Course Description: The application of principles and methods of anthropology to populations living in urban environments throughout the world.

 Course Requirements and Objectives: There are two major requirements in this class. One is a basic understanding of the characteristics of urban cultures, e.g. how they evolved (and are evolving) and the organizational features which make them different from other cultural types. The other is an appreciation of how urban anthropologists gather and analyze data in urban cultures. The first requirement is achieved by reading assignments, lecture materials, and class discussions; the second by carrying out several small assignments in the anthropological tradition of field work, and a research project resulting in a term paper of approximately 20 pages in length.

 Class Participation: This class was intentionally kept small in order create a seminar atmosphere. I will try to keep my lecturing to a minimum. Most class time will be devoted to discussions of the readings and field projects. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to the success of this course that each of you complete the assigned reading prior to our class meetings, especially if you are designated as a discussion leader. In general, seminars only work well when the participants (students and professor) are prepared.

In short, this course requires that you: a. come to class prepared, which means having done the reading prior to each class meeting; and b. that you are willing to verbally express your views and ask questions. This course can be neither educational nor interesting without your active participation. There are no "dumb questions" in this course -- so speak up! In seminars like this, the emphasis is not on teaching as something the professor does but on collaborative learning as something we all do actively together. If you don't want to meet these expectations, then you should find another course.

 Text: The text for this course is Urban Life: Readings in Urban Anthropology. It is available at Virginia Book Store on the corner of Shafer and Grace.

 Grade Criteria: Grades will be computed using the following criteria:

Field exercises: 20%

Research term paper: 25%

Class participation: 20%

Exams and quizzes: 35%

 Topics Outline:

Lecture Topics Reading Assignments
General Introduction to Urban Anthropology
Anthropological Theoretical Strategies Part 1: Wirth, Arensberg, Merry, Shell
Field Work Strategies Among Urban Anthropologists Part 2: All
The Emergence of Urban Culture Part 1: Sjoberg, Sjoberg and Sjoberg
Migration Part 3: All
Family and Kinship Part 4: All
From the Bottom Up: Poverty and Subculture Part 5: All
Urban Boundaries Part 6: All



  Course Description: A general review of major anthropological theories

 Course Organization: The size of this class permits us to take advantage of the seminar format. This means that each of us must be prepared to discuss the readings and lecture materials.

 Testing and Grading: There will be two essay exams and one term paper in this class. These, along with class participation, will be used to determine the final grade. The paper will be on a topic chosen by the student. The paper should be directed at some issue or debate within the general field of theory. In consultation with the instructor, the student will write a short statement about the topic they wish to explore in their paper. This statement will be used as the criteria by which a grade is assigned. Students wishing to rewrite their term papers are urged to submit them as soon a possible. Papers turned in before two weeks from the last class date will not have the option to rewrite.

 Text: McGee and Warms, Anthropological Theory. This text is available at the Virginia Bookstore on the corner of Shafer and Franklin.

  General Course Outline and Reading Assignments

 Week 1: General introduction to theory.

Week 2: 19th Century Evolution: Readings: Chaps. 1,2,3,4

Weeks 3-4: Field Work and Explanation: Readings: Chaps. 6,7,8,9

Weeks 5-6: Historical Particularism and Cultural Regularities: Readings: Chaps. 10,11,12

Weeks 7-8: Functionalism: Time Stands Still: Readings: Chaps. 13,14,15

Week 9: The Attempt that Failed: Early Psychological Anthropology: Readings: Chaps. 16,17

Weeks 10-11: Materialism Revisited and Revised: Readings: Chaps 18,19,20,21,22,23

Weeks 12-13: Linguistics and Structure: Readings: Chaps 24,25,26

Week 14: Thinking about Thinking: Readings: Chaps 27,28,34,35,36

Week 15: Science vs. Ideology: The New Ethnocentrism: Readings: Chaps. 31,32,33.37.38

Week 16: Oral Reports: Some Ideas of Our Own



Contact Information:

Academic Year

Office: Room 313, Lafayette Hall

Office Phone: 828-1026

email: eeknipe@vcu.edu

Other: (804) 353-0301

Office Hours


MWF 8:30-9:30, 12-1, 2-3


TR 8-9:30, 12:30-2, 3:30-4:30


102 Main St

Gardenstown, Banff

AB45 3YP, Scotland

011 44 1261 851 663

For a glimpse of my pub (actually it's the only pub in village), click here


  Educational Background: B.A., M.A., University of Arizona; Ph.D., University of Kentucky

 Research Geographical Areas: Appalachia, Scotland

 Research Interests: Work Organization, Technology and Culture, Community, Art, Field Methods, Theory, Drugs.


   Exam 1 Review

In this section there are two major divisions. One is the distinctions among specialties in American anthropology and the major assumptions of the anthropological approach. The other is the biological characteristics of humans which make culture possible. This latter topic includes the evolutionary stages leading the modern humans and the present-day distinctions among humans.

American anthropology is divided in four (or five) major divisions--physical or biological anthropology, archaeology, social and cultural anthropology, linguistics, and applied anthropology. Physical anthropology uses the fossil record and genetics to reconstruct our evolutionary (extinct) past along with genetic, anatomical, and behavioral characteristics of living (extant) primates. Archaeology uses artifacts produced by humans as a way of reconstructing our non-recorded history. Social and cultural anthropology collects its data from living humans in all part of the world to test and develop theories about the human condition and its variations. Linguistics is concerned with a unique human attribute, namely symbolic communication. The ability to produce and use symbols with arbitrarily assigned meanings separates us from other sign using animals. Applied anthropology, which some anthropologists would place under social and cultural anthropology, is for some, its own separate field. Applied anthropology is an attempt to employ anthropological principles to specific questions or problems.

Some concepts associated with the anthropological approach.

Culture, cultural relativism, ethical neutrality, the comparative approach, emics and etics, technology, symbolic communication, social structure, instinct vs. learning, enculturation, diffusion, ethnography and ethnology.

Some concepts associated with evolution and physical anthropology.

Evolution, catastrophism vs. gradualism, natural selection, taxonomy, species, Mendelian vs. Lamarkian, gene, allele, DNA, dominant and recessive, independent assortment, segregation, genotype and phenotype, mutation, gene pool, genetic drift, Darwinian fitness, primates, Prosimians, Old World monkeys, New World monkeys, Apes, prehensile hands, stereoscopic vision, australopithicines, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Neanderthal, Homo sapiens, sexual dimorphism, dentition, race vs. type, founder effect, blood type, clinal variations, morphological selection, intelligence.



 Test 2 Review

 Much of the material in this section reflects the work of archaeologists. The accumulation of tools and other physical artifact are used to reconstruct cultural evolution. With the appearance of modern humans, there has been no significant anatomical changes, but cultures have evolved rapidly. The principles that explain these changes are described in stages of major materials that survive, and what is learned by studying extant cultures with similar inventories of artifacts. This evolutionary journey begins with simple hand tools made from stone to the emergence of cities, civilization, and peasantry. Lastly, we examine that institutional system most closely associated with the manufacture and use of tools, namely anthropological economics.

Some concepts associated with cultural evolution.

 Paleolithic, art, binary opposition, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, history, independent invention vs. diffusion, innovation, hand axe, core and blade tools, percussion, pressure, and grinding methods, N x (N-1)/2, cultivation and domestication, Old World, New World, bands, hunting and gathering, tribes, domestication, horticulture, slash and burn, pastoralism, headman, shaman, chiefdoms, big men, kingdoms, states, agriculture, carrying capacity, sodalities, class, caste, limited good, preindustrial and industrial, exchange, balanced reciprocity, redistribution, money, formal vs. substantive economics.


Test Three Review

In this section, several aspects of anthropology are reviewed. Anthropological linguistics seeks to describe and explain the principles that underlie all spoken languages, along with how language is used to convey meaning. Although the recognized sounds employed in human languages varies, no other animal's call system is capable of producing an almost infinite number of utterances about things and ideas in remote places and times. One illustration of this linguistic ability is found in the study of kinship. Names that are used to identify relatives form part of a cognitive system that separates and merges our kin into a logical structure. The study of kinship in anthropology dates back to the latter part of the 19th century. Traditionally, the kinds of cultures studied by anthropology have used kinship as an organizing principle for everyday life. Therefore, to adequately understand these cultures, anthropologists have devoted a great amount of thought and effort to the study of kinship.

A basis issue or question that has informed anthropological research is a simple one, namely, what makes social life possible? Why is it that humans engage in rather predictable behavior? While other social sciences focus on pathologies and deviance, anthropology has looked at those rules that are followed by most people as a clue to answering this question. In the section on social control we examine the variety of methods used in cultures to ensure uniform behavior and beliefs. One example of the use of sanctions is religion. Along with kinship, exposure to so-called "simple" cultures made clear that they can have quite elaborate systems of beliefs and practices in reference to the supernatural that serve as effective methods of social control.

A popular concept of anthropology is that it is the study of the exotic. The last part of this section examines what anthropology has to say about contemporary urban cultures. Are we any different from bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and villagers in other part of the world and at other times? Are we different from our non-urban counterparts?

Some concepts associated with this section.

Symbols, signs, phone, allphone, phoneme, free morph, bound morph, allomorph, morpheme, syntax, grammar, transformational generative grammar, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, social linguistics, genealogical method, incest, alliance, marriage, descent, consanguinity, cross-cousins, parallel cousins, polygyny, polyandry, monogamy, levirate, sororate, patronymic, matronymic, allonymic, unilineal descent, patrilineal, matrilineal, bilateral, patrilocal, matrilocal, neolocal, nuclear family, extended family, sanctions, expectations, Muss, Soll, Kann, ritual, anamism, anamatism, magic, naturalism, individual cults, shamanistic cults, ecclesiastical cults, revitalization movements, rites of passage, rites of intensification