ANTH 2053 - Life, Death and Culture

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2016

Life and death are the core universals for human beings, yet are the context for key contemporary debates, and a wide variety of practices and beliefs historically and culturally. Debates on such key topics as reproductive technologies, organ transplantation, and the 'good death' often encapsulate central social and cultural assumptions. This course explores such debates and assumptions through an examination of the cross-cultural nature of life and death in both western and non-western societies. Both birth and death have been core concerns of anthropology throughout its history, and continue to be the focus of research. Dominant themes of this course are the practices and beliefs at the start of life (conception, and birth), as well as at the end of life, including how connections are forged or severed between the living and the dead (aging, the process of death, grief, funerals and memorials, and the afterlife).

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ANTH 2053
    Course Life, Death and Culture
    Coordinating Unit Anthropology and Development Studies
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of level 1 undergraduate study
    Course Description Life and death are the core universals for human beings, yet are the context for key contemporary debates, and a wide variety of practices and beliefs historically and culturally. Debates on such key topics as reproductive technologies, organ transplantation, and the 'good death' often encapsulate central social and cultural assumptions. This course explores such debates and assumptions through an examination of the cross-cultural nature of life and death in both western and non-western societies. Both birth and death have been core concerns of anthropology throughout its history, and continue to be the focus of research. Dominant themes of this course are the practices and beliefs at the start of life (conception, and birth), as well as at the end of life, including how connections are forged or severed between the living and the dead (aging, the process of death, grief, funerals and memorials, and the afterlife).
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Susan Hemer

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Introduce students to the anthropological literature on life and death
    2 Increase students’ understanding of how people define and deal with life and death
    3 Broaden students’ knowledge of cultural variation in how connections are forged or severed between the living and the dead
    4 Engage students in contemporary debates that relate to life and death
    5 Develop students’ awareness of, and ability to critically reflect on the politics of life and death in their own cultural background
    6 Develop students’ research skills on a topic of interest related to life and/or death
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 2, 3
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    6
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    4
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    6
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    3, 4, 5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    2 & 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There will be a reader available for purchase from the Image and Copy Centre for this course. This is an essential resource for this course.
    Recommended Resources
    Cecil, R. 1996 The Anthropology of Pregnancy Loss. Oxford: Berg.

    Franklin, S. & Lock, M. 2003 Remaking Life and Death: toward an anthropology of the biosciences. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.

    Ginsburg, F. D. & Rapp, R. 1995 Conceiving the new world order: the global politics of reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Kaufman, S. R. & Morgan, L. M. 2005 The anthropology of the beginnings and ends of life. Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 317-41.

    Loizos, P. & Heady, P. 1999 Conceiving Persons: Ethnographies of procreation, fertility and growth. London: the Athlone Press.

    Lukere, V. & Jolly, M. 2002 Birthing in the Pacific: beyond tradition and modernity? Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

    Margry, P.J. & Sanchez-Carretero, C. 2011 Grassroots memorials : the politics of memorializing traumatic death. New York: Berghahn Books.

    Metcalf, P. & Huntington, R. 1991 Celebrations of death: the anthropology of mortuary ritual. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Robben, A. C. G. M. 2004 Death, Mourning and Burial: a cross-cultural reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Scheper-Hughes, N. 1992 Death Without Weeping. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    Online Learning
    MyUni will be used in this course to communicate with students through Announcements, as well as to post recorded lectures and powerpoint slides. MyUni will also have the details for assignments.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is taught through a combination of lectures and workshops. Lectures aim to provide the theoretical and conceptual background of the topics at hand. Workshops will focus on key debates around these topics as well as cross-cultural variation. Assignments will allow student to focus on a number of issues of their own choice.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    1 x 1-hour lecture (or equivalent) per week 12 hours per semester
    1 x 2-hour workshop (or equivalent) per week 24 hours per semester
    4 hours reading and workshop preparation per week 48 hours per semester
    5 hours assignment preparation per week 60 hours per semester
    1 hour research per week 12 hours per semester
    TOTAL WORKLOAD 156 hours per semester
    Learning Activities Summary
    Schedule
    Life
    Week 1 Anthropology of the Beginnings and Ends of Life
    Week 2 Pregnancy
    Week 3 Birth
    Week 4 The Cultural Politics of Reproduction
    Week 5 Independent learning and research
    Life-death boundaries
    Week 6 Brain death & organ transplantation
    Week 7 Social birth, aging and social death
    Death
    Week 8 Death and Dying
    Week 9 Independent learning and research
    Week 10 Memorials and cemeteries 
    Week 11 Grief
    Week 12 The Afterlife

    .
    Specific Course Requirements
    Attendance at Lectures and Workshops is essential for success in this course. If more than 2 workshops are missed (without documentation such as a medical certificate) students will gain 0% for Workshop participation.

    Failure to submit a piece of assessment (journal, or research project) will result in a Fail grade for this course. Failure to submit any written work will result in a FNS grade (Failure No Submission).
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Small Group Discovery Experiences will occur throughout this course particularly in workshops where students discuss case studies from written material; workshop themes and ideas presented through documentaries; and through a research-learning visit to the West Terrace Cemetery.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Weighting Learning Outcome
    Workshop Participation Formative and Summative 10% 1-6
    1000 word critical reflective journal Formative and Summative 20% 1-6
    1000 word research proposal Formative and Summative 25% 1-6
    2500 word research essay Formative and Summative 45% 1-6
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Attendance at lectures and workshops is essential for success in this course. If more than 2 workshops are missed (without documentation such as a medical certificate) students will gain 0% for Workshop participation.
    Assessment Detail

    Workshop Participation: Workshops are the major learning context for this subject. Students are required to participate in one 2-hour workshop each week. Workshops require continual preparation by way of reading and thinking about the materials under discussion.

    1000 word Critical Reflective Journal:
    write a journal reflecting on themes related to this course.

    1000 word research proposal:
    students choose their own research topic relating to life or death that is related to the themes of this course.

    2500 word research essay: this will be based on the student's research proposal and other research.

    Submission

    Assignments are submitted electronically via MyUni.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

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