Culture and Human Behavior

Anthropology 20
Culture and Human Behavior 

Marida Hollos
Brown University
Semester I, 2000-01


The goal of this course is to challenge our beliefs about some often taken for granted assumptions about human behavior and the human psyche by examining cultures with different conceptions of personality, self and cognition. Under consideration will be the issues of the role of nature vs. nurture in human social and cognitive development, the nature of intelligence, the association of maturity with independence, the naturalness of emotions and of the association of psychological characteristics with gender.

At the end of the course students should be able to critically evaluate these issues and to apply them to their own lives.



Readings are located in the texts available in the Brown Bookstore. The following books are required:

Gerald Erchak, 1998 The Anthropology of Self and Behavior. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Robert LeVine, et al., 1994 Child Care and Culture: Lessons from Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Marjorie Shostak, 1981 Nisa: The Life and Words of a Kung Woman. New York: Vintage Books.

J. Tobin, D. Wu and D. Davidson, 1989 Preschool in Three Cultures. New Haven: Yale University Press.

M. Hollos and P.Leis, 1989 Becoming Nigerian in Ijo Society. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Catherine A. Lutz, 1988 Unnatural Emotions: Everyday Sentiments on a Micronesian Atoll. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kaja Finkler, 1994 Women in PainGender and Morbidity in Mexico. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

In addition, a xeroxed set of articles will be available for purchase at the Brown University Bookstore. These readings are marked with an *.


Examinations will consist of two mid-terms and a final paper. The purpose of the paper is to have students utilize concepts learned in the course and to look at Euro-American psychological assumptions from the perspective of other cultures.

Mid-term exam 25%
Second mid-term exam 25%
Final paper 30%
Section performance 20%



The lectures will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays. These will supplement, not summarize the readings. The Friday hour will be utilized for viewing films. In addition to the lectures and the films, there will be small discussion sections, limited to about 15 students each, meeting once every week. These sections will provide a setting for sharing ideas, discussing the readings and raising questions. Attendance in the sections is required and contributions to the discussion will affect the final grade. Section times will be arranged at the end of the first week of class.

Students with disabilities, including “invisible” disabilities like chronic diseases, learning disabilities or psychological disorders are encouraged to make an appointment outside of class time with the instructor early in the semester.

If you have any problems with the course, or are unhappy with your own performance, please get in touch with the instructor or with one of the Teaching Assistants. Problems are much easier to solve if they are tackled when they firt appear. Do not wait until the last moment if you are having any difficulties.

If you have problems with writing, please get in touch with the Writing Center.

Copyright © 2000 Marida Hollos

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