Psychological Anthropology (Reminick)

ANT 321

Spring, 2001

Dr. Ron Reminick
Cleveland State University

Required Reading for Purchase:

  • Charles Lindholm, Culture and Identity.
  • Jared Diamond, Why Sex is Fun.
  • Gilbert Herdt, The Sambia.
  • Gananath Obeyesekere, Medusa’s Hair.

Required Reading on Reserve and On Line:

Week 2:

  • Chris. Badcock, “Freud’s Findings in the Context of Evolutionary Theory”

Week 3:

  • Robert LeVine, “The self in African culture”
  • Don Kulick, “Introduction: The Sexual Life of Anthropologists”

Week 8:

  • Ron Reminick, “Symbolic Significance of Ceremonial Defloration”
  • Ron Reminick, “Sport of Warriors on the Wane”
  • Sisaraw Dinku, “Afar Pastoral Warrior Identity”
  • Memuna M. Sillah, “Bundu Trap”
  • Meridith F. Small, “A Woman’s Curse?”
  • Inga Muscio, Cunt (selections)

Week 14:

  • Newsweek article, “Stress”
  • Ari Kiev, “The Study of Folk Psychiatry”
  • Weston LaBarre, “Confession as Cathartic Therapy”
  • Cathy Joseph, “Scarlet Woundings: Issues of Child Prostitution”
  • Thomas Adeoye Lambo, “Psychotherapy in Africa”

Week 15:

  • Erika Bourguignon, “Trance and Meditation”
  • Holger Kalweit, (selections from Shamans, Healers, and Medicine Men)

Course Requirements:

Five examinations will cover the course content. The examinations will be part multiple-choice, surveying the breadth of material for each section of our assignments, and an attached essay problem on a particular aspect of the section under assignment.

A research paper on an issue chosen by the student and approved by the instructor, of +/- 12 pages, will be due at the end of the course. For those students familiar with my appeal process: This will not be in effect in this course. Therefore, the student should study before the exam.

However, an extra-credit assignment will be available as an option. The extra-credit paper will be assigned cumulative points which will be a significant contribution to one’s point average. This assignment will be in the form of an original research project which could involve such topics as

  1. an interesting person’s life history
  2. an ethnography of a religious service or ritual with the student’s reactions to the experience
  3. the course of someone’s symptomatology precipitated under stress
  4. sexual experiences
  5. a critical review of the course with personal responses to particular sections. The student is encouraged to dream up a topic of one’s own interest.

Although attendance records will not be kept, the student is responsible for any information transpiring in class. Class participation will be noted and may have some form of credit associated with it.

Schedule of Topics and Reading Assignments.
(Total Reading: +/-1264 pages; 79 pages / week)

Week I Introduction to the course.
1/15 Rdg.:

  • L. (Lindholm), Preface, Part 1 (18 pp.)
Week II The science of anthropology.
1/22 Person and culture in Western philosophy. Levels of human functioning:

  • Instinctual
  • Emotional
  • Cognitive
  • Social
  • Cultural

The theoretical categories of analysis:

  • science
  • the existential state description
  • the organic system
  • evolution: natural selection, mutation, adaptation
  • culture and symbol systems
  • social structure and social relations
  • personality and identity
  • ego defense mechanisms
  • instinctual systems

Film: on Chimpanzee social behavior and emotional response dramatizing our instinctual heritage.


  • L., Part 2, Part 3, chs. 4, 5 (119 pp.)
  • Christopher Badcock, “Freud’s Findings in the Context of Recent Evolutionary Theory” (21 pp.)
Week III Methodology and the strategies of data-collection.
  • General principles of scientific procedure.
  • Key elements in the scientific understanding of peoples/cultures.
  • Tapping the variables of personality with projective tests.
  • Ethnography and culture shock.
  • The risks and dangers of fieldwork.

Film: on growing up among the Hamar

Rdg: (92 pp.)

  • L., Part 3, chs. 6, 7 (57 pp.)
  • LeVine, “The Self in African Culture” (11 pp.) (reserve)
  • Kulick, “The Sexual Life of Anthropologists” (24 pp.) (reserve)


Week IV Dialectical concepts in personality and culture.
2/5 Profiles of personalities in cultures.


Models for the interpretation of human experience.

Week V Love and culture.
2/12 Rdg:

  • L., Parts 4 and 5 (188 pp. 2 weeks)


PART II Evolution of Human Sexuality
(what you won’t get from the human sexuality course)
Week VI The evolution of human sexuality.
2/19 Ecological factors in the differentiation of gender.


  • The Biology of Love.
  • N!ai: autobiography of a !kung woman.


  • J.D. (Jared Diamond) chs. 1 – 4 (88 pp.)
Week VII The Reminick paradigm: The ontogenetic basis of human bisexuality.
2/26 Film: female anatomy and paraurethral ejaculation.

Note: Due to the emotional sensitivity of the subject-matter this film will be optional viewing.


  • J.D., chs. 5 – 7 (57 pp.)


Week VIII Gender issues and the ecology of gender differentiation.
3/5 Symbolic meaning of rituals of masculinity.

Symbolic meaning of menstruation and orgasm.

Film: on variations of human sexual expression.

Note: due to the emotional sensitivity of the subject-matter this film will be optional viewing. Also, no outside visitors without permission of instructor.

Rdg (113 pp. Reserve Library):

  • Reminick, Symbolic Significance of Ceremonial Defloration (11 pp.)
  • The Sport of Warriors on the Wane (5 pp.)
  • Sisaraw Dinku, Person and Society Among the Afar (11.3 pp.)
  • Meridith Small, A Woman’s Curse? (5.5 pp.)
  • Memuna Sillah, Bundu Trap (5 pp.)
  • Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence (49 pp.)
  • Orgasms from Cunts (26 pp.)


Week IX S P R I N G B R E A K 11 – 18 March, 2000
WELCOME BACK! (now get to work!)
Week X Rites of initiation: social, emotional, and cognitive meaning.
3/19 The socialization of gender-specific behavior and mentality.

Case Study: The Sambia of New Guinea.


  • female genital mutilation in Africa.
  • The Sambia of New Guinea
Week XI
3/26 Rdg. (2 weeks):

  • G. Herdt, The Sambia (206 pp.)


Week XII The structure of religious ideology and ritual process.
4/2 Private vs. public religious symbols.
Varieties of religious experience.
Week XIII Psychoanalysis of asceticism.
4/9 Film: on the rattlesnake handlers of Appalachia.


  • Obeyesekere, Medusa’s Hair (192 pp.-2 weeks)


Week XIV Stress as a causative agent of illness.
  • Culture-bound syndromes in selected societies
  • Cultural determinants of psychiatric disorders.
  • Sorcery, witchcraft, and the ontogenesis of death.
  • Traditional and alternative therapies.

Films: Healing

  • Eduardo the Healer

Rdg (59 pp.):

  • Newsweek, “Stress” (6 pp.)
  • Ari Kiev, “The Study of Folk Psychiatry” (26 pp.)
  • Weston LaBarre, “Confession as Cathartic Therapy” (9 pp.)
  • Thomas Adeoye Lambo, “Psychotherapy in Africa” (5 pp.)
  • C. Joseph, “Scarlet Wounding: Issues of Child Prostitution (13 pp.)
Week XV
Week XVI
Sacred journeys to paths of power.
Modalities of the altered states of consciousness.
Cultural configurations of spiritual power.


  • Dreamspeaker

Rdg (111 pp.):

  • Erica Bourguignon, “Trance and Meditation” (12 pp.)
  • Holger Kalweit, fr. Shamans, Healers, and Medicine Men. (99 pp.)

EXAMINATION VI: Wednesday, 9 May.

Copyright © 2001 Ron Reminick

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