Cultural Anthropology Week 12: Getting Very Near the End

How to cover globalization in two and a half hours? I broke up the topic into three parts. The first is the lead up to world systems theory, delving again into how anthropology is conducted to show how the field has switched from viewing cultures as contained systems to seeing cultures as nodes in a grander system.

The second part was a lengthy but non-comprehensive trip though the causes and effects of globalization, starting at industrialization and touching on both the positive and negative results, such as cheap consumer goods, cheap labor, multinational corporations, pollution, and climate change. For the slide on pollution, I built on a random fact I mentioned last lecture that got a lot of attention: that an underground coal fire has been burning in Pennsylvania since the 1960s. I did a little more research on coal seam fires, which the class enjoyed hearing about, though it was a pretty terrible realization that these fires are raging in many parts of the world wasting fuel and dumping toxic gas into the atmosphere. Sleep tight!

The last third of the course was more directly anthropological in nature. I looked at the effects globalization has had on people who practice different subsistence strategies. The take-home message was that the simpler the strategy, the harder the entrance into world economics. This sets up the next lecture on applied anthropology and how anthropologists fight for the least powerful.

I chose a few video clips to show the class, but actually playing them on screen exposed a flaw in how I choose videos. I typically have candidates playing in a little window on my computer when I am working on the lecture. Oftentimes, I am not watching the video, but listening to the content to make sure that it is interesting and jives with the lecture. As I played one of the videos in class, I was met with the most cheese-tastic special effects with 80’s laser sounds. It could have been worse, I guess! Another video, which I had not really watched, was presented in that hip animated whiteboard style. The students really enjoyed that one.

This lecture really starts the conclusion of the course. As we started with how anthropology is done, the next class ends with what anthropology is doing. After that, the next next class has no lecture. The class will have the poster session and then it’s off to the San Diego Museum of Man to see the traveling Race: Are We So Different exhibit! See you, after class.

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