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Online Overview of Culture Instructions
In this course, we have discussed numerous aspects of culture that are studied by anthropologists. As we have seen, these aspects of culture are related, and anthropologists often study multiple cultural elements simultaneously to gain a true holistic perspective. In the upcoming Imaginary Culture Paper, you will apply what you have learned about the aspects of culture (and their relationships to one another) to create your own imaginary culture.
To help you prepare for that paper, this assignment asks you to start thinking about that culture and write a brief overview of the culture you envision.
The overview is worth 5% of your course grade, and it will be submitted in Canvas. You may upload the paper as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf. You may also upload directly from a GoogleDoc if you prefer. Check the information below for more details about formatting the assignment.
The full paper that is due in a few weeks will describe the culture’s history, environment, subsistence approach, political system, and other aspects of social life. In the meantime, for this assignment, you will share a preliminary look at the culture you are imagining. This will allow you to receive feedback, make adjustments, and be set up for success on the larger paper due in a few weeks.
Your imaginary culture can be creative. Maybe they live on the moon or in a protected bubble in the deep sea. The key thing is that the elements of the culture should make sense together. For example, if your culture practices foraging, the people probably can’t live in a large city—unless you provide a mechanism that allows for them to live in such a large group in one place on this limited food supply.
What information should I provide in the overview?
In this overview assignment, you will describe at least 3 aspects of your imaginary culture. You may
choose which 3 aspects to describe, such as subsistence, social organization, and art.
For each aspect of the culture:
• Use at least one relevant anthropological term (such as “foraging” or “pastoralism”).
o Check the end of this document for a list of approved terms from the course. If you have
an additional term from the course that you would like to use, please contact Dr. Soluri
at least 48 hours before the assignment is due.
• Provide some description of the term that shows you know what the term means. For example,
you might say: “My imaginary culture relies on wild plant and animal foods that they hunt,
gather, and collect from their local environment. They are foragers.”
• Explain how this aspect of the culture relates to other aspects of the culture. For example, if the
culture relies on foraging, how does that shape their social organization? Do they live in a band or a state? Do they have small villages or large urban centers?
You may also want to include additional information about the culture that helps us understand the cultural elements you describe. For example, it may help the reader understand the culture’s subsistence if we also know where they are located and what kind of environment they have.
And you may include additional information that is just for fun and helps you think more deeply about the culture—such as the name of the imaginary culture.
How do I format my overview?
• Your overview should be one long paragraph, double-spaced (about 300 words or 1 page).
o If your overview is only a couple sentences, look back through and make sure you have
fully explained three aspects of the culture and how they connect to each other. Sometimes more description and detail are needed to completely explain those relationships.
o If your overview is longer than 1.5 pages, look back through to see if maybe you provided too much additional information that isn’t directly related to these initial three aspects of the culture. Try to edit the extra information down (and save it to reuse in the longer paper if you want).
• Please use a standard font and font size, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman in size 11, 11.5, or 12.
• Please use 1-inch margins on all sides.
• If you have questions about how to adjust your font and margins, please ask Dr. S for help.
You will be graded based on how clearly you describe 3 aspects of the culture and how effectively you connect them together.
• Aspects of the culture (3 possible points)
o You will receive 1 point for each cultural element that is clearly described and uses
correct terminology from the course (3 points total for 3 cultural elements).
• Relationship between aspects of the culture (2 possible points):
o You will earn up to 2 possible points if the cultural elements “make sense” together
and are consistent with one another.
o If there are aspects of the culture that are out of sync or contradictory, partial credit
will be awarded.
Spelling and grammar:
• A few minor mistakes are okay and will be overlooked. If the overview has enough
grammatical mistakes that it is difficult to read, points may be deducted. The English Learning Center and the Integrated Learning Center are available to help with proofreading and writing workshops.
Acculturation Affinal kin Agriculture Anthropology Band
Bilateral descent Bridewealth
Centralized system Chiefdom
Colonialism Commemorative ritual Commodity
Comparative Consanguineal kin Contagious magic
Cultural anthropology Cultural relativism Culture
Egalitarian system Egocentric view of person Emic
Extended family Family of orientation Family of procreation Fictive kin
Focused worldview Foraging
General worldview Gift
Gift exchange Globalization Heterogeneous culture Holistic
Homogeneous culture Horticulture Household production Identity
Imitative magic Industrialism
Leadership system Magic
Market exchange Matrilineal descent Medium of exchange Monogamy
Participant observation Pastoralism
Patrilineal descent Performance art Political ritual
Politics Polyandry Polygamy Polygyny Power
Race Reciprocity Redistribution Religion Religious ritual Rite of passage Ritual
Sociocentric view of person State
Workshop production Worldview
Acceptable Anthropological Terms for Use in Your Assignment