As the "science of humanity," anthropology can help us understand virtually anything about ourselves, from our political and economic systems, to why we get married, to how we decide to buy a particular bottle of wine. This 24-lecture course reveals the extraordinary power of anthropology - and its subspecialty, cultural anthropology - as a tool to understand the world's varied human societies, including our own.
These lectures will immerse you in the world of the Trobriand Islanders of Melanesia; the Yanomamö of the Brazilian Amazon; the Dobe Ju'hoansi or Kung Bushmen of Botswana and Namibia; and other indigenous peoples.
Professor Fischer leads an excursion through cultural practices that often seem, to us, quirky, exotic, and even repulsive - marriages that include as many as 20 husbands, matrilineal societies, magic spirits and witchcraft, cannibalism, and incest - practices that will make you question your assumptions about what is natural, or what is human nature.
As you review these customs, the professor describes the issues that cultural anthropologists face in dealing with them. For example, what should anthropologists do in cases such as female circumcision or ritualized rape, in which customs seriously conflict with our own sense of morality and human rights?
Professor Fischer also applies the lessons of cultural anthropology to our own culture by considering the U.S. economy and consumer behavior. Is our economy really based on rational decision making? If so, why do we eat cattle and pigs, but not horses? Why are we willing to shop around to save $10 on a clock radio, but not on a big-screen TV?
You will grow to appreciate how valuable an understanding of cultural anthropology is in a world of ever-increasing globalization, in which members of even the most remote cultures come into more frequent and more influential contact through international travel, migration, business, and the Internet.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
I would like to hear these lectures again. Professor Fischer describes the culture and habits of peoples all over the globe. I loved that he guided us through the lives of those in remote villages and people who are rarely studied. These lectures were really enjoyable.
I think for me, when he explained why cannibals think we are wrong and wasteful when we bury (instead of eat) our dead he was most compelling because it helped me to see them as humans with reasons for their actions. I never understood the "why" behind what they do. He has a way of teaching delicate subjects in an academic manner, so the listener can accept the information easier. He told stories of peoples so dramatically different than traditional Americans, I found it very interesting. I also learned that acts that can seem barbaric to us are seen in a very different light by others.
I have not, but would like to hear a sequel.
No, I think it is too long for that, but I did listen to one a day and really looked forward to each one.
Really fascinating, many good lessons on human nature. I enjoyed it very much.
The title of this series makes you think the lectures will be interesting. And, to a degree, they are. However, they deal with "out of the way" cultures that affect very few of us, and do not cover the scope of humanity. There is nothing of consequence discussed of the world's major cultures, just smaller tribes around the globe. While it is somewhat interesting, it really doesn't offer insight into humanity to any degree. Be aware, as well, this is an older series. At one point the author/reader mentions there are 6 billion people on earth (current population is 7.2 billion). Because of this, I feel there may have been more recent discoveries in the field which get no mention in this series of lectures.
Actually the world is made of tribes, but I was left with the feeling that the book was too much focused on small tribes (interesting as they may be... and they are). I was expecting a more overarching perspective of big tribes: modern peoples and nations... it would be more useful.
It was a good anthropological exercise though...
An introverted excavator.
I've skimmed many of the topics covered in this lecture during my graduate school days, but Professor Fischer's passion for this topic enhanced my understanding of the cultures mentioned here and his framing of Anthropology as a discipline added enormously to my understanding of the subject matter. Listening to this course gave me exactly what I had hoped for: a fascinating, globe-trotting escape into the lives of other people I will never meet and an opportunity to marvel at our shared, human experiences.
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