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Anthropology 230

Introduction to Economic Anthropology

Credits:  3

Length of Course: 14 weeks

Classroom Hours per Week: 4

Prerequisites: Anthropology 110 or Sociology 110 and 12 credits

Corequisite: English 100

Texts:  Economies and Cultures: Foundations of Economic Anthropology, Richard Wilk, et al.

Course Description:

This course will employ anthropological methods to analyse what constitutes value and how economic systems develop.  From crunching numbers on wall street to cold hard cash on the street; from yams as currency in Papua New Guinea to the division of labour in foraging cultures: economy, currency, exchange, labour and value are not universally practiced  and understood.  We will analyse how and why value is invested in some objects but not others, and how and why this influences economic practices.  This course will introduce students to ethnographic examples so they can put into context how economic models and objects of value reflects the history and adaptive experience of a culture.

Course Outline:

Week 1-2 Wilk, R; Chapter 1 Economic Anthropology: An Undisciplined Discipline
Week 3-4 Wilk, R; Chapter 2,
Jarrod Diamond
Economics and the problem of human nature and adaptive failure
Week 5-7 Wilk, R; Chapter 3,
Philippe Bourgoi
Self Interest and the neoclassical microeconomics.Office work and the Crack Alternative.
Week 8-9 Wilk, R; Chapter 4,
Elias H. Tuma
Social and political economy and the economics of the Middle East
Week 10-11 Wilk, R; Chapter 5,
Lee Cronk
Economics, culture and morality. Reciprocity and the power of giving
Week 12 Wilk, R; Chapter 6
Complex economic human beings
Week 13 Review Review of material covered up to date and a viewing of "the corporation"


Attendance, Participation & Worksheets 15%
Quizzes 15%
Paper Proposal 5%
Term Paper 15%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 30%


Larry van der Est, B.A. (Victoria), M.A. (British Columbia)

Transferability: see