I’m one of those senior students who waited until her last year to finish her last lower division general education class, so here I am in ANT 112: Anthropology via the Internet. The name is kind of misleading, because I originally thought that it was going to be looking at the Internet through an anthropological lens, which I thought sounded like a pretty damn rad class. I quickly found out that it was an Introduction to Anthropology class hosted online through Blackboard, but it’s still been eyeopening.
There are a lot of different kinds of anthropology.
Going into this class, I didn’t really know much about anthropology. Anthropology is a pretty broad term, but I’ve enjoyed learning about different kinds of anthropology: biological, archaeology, linguistic, cultural and applied. I was already interested in linguistic anthropology, since I’ve learned about it in a few of my English classes. Much like other academic fields, there’s a huge variety of research and specialties. I’ve come to admire the people who go to remote places around the world, assimilate into and observe different cultures and write about them– you basically devote your life to your research. There are even people who are doing archaeology by doing research on the trash islands in the ocean. Anthropology is a field that I think a lot of people discount as a real career, but it’s really important cultural work that we should value more.
You realize just how limited your own perspective is.
My textbook references a lot of small tribes, ethnic groups and nations I had never heard of before this class, so it’s been a great lesson in cultural awareness. I didn’t realize just how America-centric history and geography classes are until I started reading the textbook. It’s so easy to be entrenched in everyday life and concerned about getting a good job, going to school or even having the latest and greatest technology. In an anthropology class, you realize that there are still people in the world who don’t know what the Internet is or have never drank a can of Coke. They are part of cultures that are incredibly tight-knit and traditional, and I’m a little sad that I’m only learning about some of them just now. For example, there was a sidebar in the textbook about the Kwakwaka’wakw, an indigenous group of people in British Columbia, that have a long and storied history of potlatching (which is not the same as potlucking) that was banned for a long time. Now I know all about a facet of a really incredible culture.
Getting a chance to reread something is actually kinda cool.
For my term project, I’m writing a paper on Elie Wiesel’s Night (For those who haven’t read it, it’s a firsthand account of the Holocaust [That’s actually simplifying it unjustly, so go read it].) I don’t usually reread books, and the last time I read Night was in 10th grade. I still have the photocopied packet my teacher gave me, and reread some of the notes and highlights I had made.
1. I don’t understand why I highlighted what I highlighted. (This is the 20/20 vision of an English major that I experience semi-frequently, but I digress.)
and 2. It is a much more powerful read for me at 21 years old than it was at 15.
This time around, I have to look at the text from an anthropological perspective. Not only is the book historically important because it details the Holocaust, but it’s anthropologically significant too on the religious, spiritual and political levels.
But multiple choice quizzes are not the business.
My least favorite part of this class has been the 20-question timed multiple choice quizzes I have to take once a week. Because it’s online and you have access to the book, the questions are ultra-specific. Plus, I have a raging case of senioritis that I’m currently battling, so the thought of taking a multiple choice quiz makes me want to go lie down for a thousand years. But I’m going to finish this class strong, and end it with a new wealth of information.
Have you taken an anthropology class? Let’s talk about it in the comments.