Anthropology | Economic Anthropology
E420 | 24927 | Wilk
Course Description: 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 turns highly abstract, mathematical, and dry
economics into something more relevant to understanding other cultures
- I think it is also 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 short paper.
This course is available for graduate credit.