Anthropology | Economic Anthropology
E420 | 0498 | Wilk
Are economics the same in every culture? Are there places where people
don't care about money or new clothes? Why are some people so poor, while
others are so rich? Why are gifts so important in social life? Just what
does anthropology have to say about economics anyway?
Economic anthropology takes highly abstract, mathematical, and dry
economics and turns it into something more interesting, theoretical,
controversial and complicated. We ask all the tough questions about human
nature, power and social life that economics stopped wondering about, over
100 years ago.
This is not "watered-down economics for the mathematically disabled." But
it sure is going to be a lot more interesting than working out econometric
models of interest-rate fluctuation. We are going to be reading in detail
about other peoples' economic lives, and about the major issues of poverty
and development that shape the world. Throughout the semester I will argue
that Economic Anthropology is directly concerned with the most central
anthropological issues of human nature, choice, values, and morality. I
think this course will give you a solid basis for thinking about the
different ways we explain human behavior, thought, and culture and provide
a foundation for applying anthropological knowledge to real-world
situations. It would be a great elective for an economics or SPEA student.
The course is built around reading a single textbook - my own. A reader of
short articles goes along with it, and then there are also two
ethnographies. There is a take-home midterm and a take-home final, and a
This course is available for graduate credit.