Instructor: Stevan Harrell
Office: M46 Denny
Office Hours: T 9:30-1:30, W 1:30-3:30, W 6-7
Phone: 543-9605, Department 543-5240, Home 525-8438
This course is designed to do four things:
1) Give a systematic overview of the forms and variations of the human family as they have co-evolved with increasingly complex forms of society.
2) Present and debate conflicting views on how to understand the family.
3) Discuss the relevance of comparative studies to the "crisis" in the American family today.
4) Since this is a W-course, to improve your expository writing, whatever its current level. To this end, you will have papers due on Income Tax Day, May Day, the Ides of May, and the day before the actual Memorial Day. Paper assignments will be handed out two weeks in advance of the due date for each paper. Each paper will count one-fourth of your grade.
In pursuit of these goals, the class will be organized around
a series of lectures and readings, along with your oral and written responses
to these lectures and readings. There are three required books: Roland's
In Search of Self in India and Japan; Trawick's Notes on Love
in a Tamil Family, and Coontz's The Way We Never Were. In addition,
there is a packet, available at Professional Copy and Print at 42nd and
University, containing ethnographic case studies, and articles embodying
various approaches to the comparative and ethnographic study of the family.
Our class periods will consist of lectures, pointing out the important
aspects of what you are about to read or have just read, and discussion
periods in which you respond to the intellectual issues and conflicts raised
in your readings and in previous lectures. In order to stay focused for
two and a half hours an evening, we will divide each class session up into
lecture and discussion periods, but not on any regular schedule.
In your writing assignments, you will be doing much the same thing as we do in the discussions: taking a stand on an issue and defending it. In many cases, you will find yourself taking a position opposed to what I maintain in my book or lectures. Don't be afraid to do this. If I graded you on whether you agreed with me or not, I would deserve to be fired from this job.
Now in order for all this to work, you have to keep up with the reading
assignments day by day. I will try to guide you in this, by introducing
them ahead of time and discussing them in class, but in the end, keeping
up is your responsibility.
The course is divided into sections, most of which correspond roughly to chapters in the Human Families book. Within each section, class sessions are designed to apply to certain questions raised by the material in the Human Families chapters and in other, sometimes opposed, readings of various sorts. The reading and study assignments are thus for specific days.
I. What is the family: Tools and Techniques for Study
1. Explanation of how this course works.
2. Lecture: Social evolution and systematic comparison
1. Lecture: how the developmental cycle works
2. In class exercise: the developmental cycle
3. Discussion: Can we and should we define "the family"
Freed and Freed, "The Domestic Cycle"
Yanagisako, "Family and Household"
II. The Origins of the Family: Bull... from the Mouths of Giants
April 1: Engels as Evolutionary Orthodoxy
1. Why Engels was all wrong: Lecture and Discussion
2. Why Engels was right after all: Lecture and Discussion
Readings: Engels, The Origin of the Family, pages 58-114.
April 3: Freud and the Primal Parricide
1. Discussion: What are Freud's biases and how do they wreck his
2. Discussion: Why did Robert Paul take Freud seriously?
Freud, Totem and Taboo, pp. 130-207
Kroeber, "Totem and Taboo: An Ethnographic sychoanalysis," and
"Totem and Taboo in Retrospect."
Paul, "Did the Primal Crime Take Place?"
April 8: The World Historical Overthrow of the Female Sex, part II
1. Discussion: Is total nonsense gender-specific?
2. Discussion: Is overt propaganda worse than hidden propaganda?
3. Discussion: Your papers.
Cucchiari, "The Gender Revolution and the Transition from Bisexual Horde to Patrilocal Band,"
Fisher, Women's Creation, pp. 176-214.
Reed, Woman's Evolution, pp. 75-104.
III. The Family in Band Societies: Ecology, Evolution, and Equivocal Egalitarianism
1. Lecture: On the Patrilocal Band as an anthropological embarrassment.
2. Discussion: Are the !Kung and their ilk really like our ancestors?
3. Discussion: Is egalitarianism a romantic fantasy?
Draper, "Social and Economic Constraints on Child Life"
Yanagisako and Collier, "Toward a Unified Analysis"
IV. The Family in Africa: Motherhood and Politics
1. Lecture: Stratification and class in traditional sub-Saharan Africa
2. Discussion: Men and prestige, women and offspring
Kuper, "Kinship among the Swazi"
1. Lecture: Goody's homogeneous transmission and the question of
2. Discussion: Bridewealth and women's status
O'Brien, "Female Husbands in Southern Bantu Societies"
Goody, Production and Reproduction, pages 41-64
Schneider, The Africans, 83-97.
Gray, "Sonjo Bride-Price and the Question of African "Wife- Purchase."
V. The Family in Oceania: Love, Lagoons, and Land Sharks
1. Lecture: Cultural arguments: genealogy (L)
2. Lecture: Population and family in very small places
1. Lecture and Discussion: Mead and Freeman I: Trying to find the facts
2. Mead and Freeman II: Activist anthropology
Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa, pp. 39-58, 86-109
Freeman, Margaret Mead and Samoa, pp. 65-94, 227-253
Brady, ed., "Special Section: Speaking in the Name of the Real"
1. Discussion: What is ethnography, anyway?
2. Lecture: Polyandry in the Marquesas
Clifford, "On Ethnographic Authority"
Linton, "Marquesan Culture"
Otterbein, "Marquesan Polyandry"
VI. The Family in Agrarian Societies: The World We Have Lost
1. Lecture: Unity in dichotomy: "The Traditional Family"
2. Discussion: Dowry as Marriage Transaction
Harrell and Dickey: "Dowry Systems in Complex Societies"
1. Lecture with Slides: Matriliny Again
2. Discussion: Patriarchy and the Women's "Counter Culture"
3. Discussion: How Tyrannical Was the Extended Family?
Shih, The Yongning Moso, pages 45-68, 135-161.
Siu, "Reconstituting Dowry and Brideprice in South China"
Wolf, Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan, pp. 32-41
Gates, "Cultural Support for Birth-Limitation"
VII. The family as a psychological matrix: Japan and India in some Depth
For this section of the course, you should be reading the two required textbooks, Rowland's In Search of Self in India and Japan and Trawick's Notes on Love in a Tamil Family. They will be the basis of most of our discussions.
1. Lecture: Freud Again
2. Discussion: Roland's View of Japanese Family and Psychology
Roland, In Search of Self in India and Japan
1. Lecture: Other views of Japanese Family and Psychology
2. Discussion: Are Mother-love and Father-right cultural concepts?
3. Lecture: The Greatness of Trawick's Book
Nakane, Kinship and Economic Organization in Rural Japan,
Pages to be assigned
Doi, "Amae: A Key Concept"
1. Lecture: A proposed structural model of the emotions
2. Discussion: What can we say about the relationship between family and individual psychology?
Trawick, Notes on Love in a Tamil Family
VIII. Modern Societies: The Demise of the Family and the Politics of the Family
1. Lecture: The Demise of the Family?
2. Lecture and Discussion: Why not in Japan?
Mowrer, The Family: Its Organization and Disorganization, pages 3- 25, 267-89
1. Discussion: The debate about the Black Underclass Family
2. Discussion: The debate about Family Values
Wilson and Neckerman, The Truly Disadvantaged, pages 63-92
Staples and Johnson, Black Families at the Crossroads,
Whitehead, "Dan Quayle was Right"
Coontz, The Way We Never Were
1. Lecture: Attempts to circumvent the family
2. Discussion: Family values and alternative families
3. Lecture: Final thoughts
Foster, "That All May be One"
Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex, pages 257-274
Weston, Families We Choose, pages 103-136