ANTH 2053 - Life, Death and Culture

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2022

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 Summer
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 12 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I 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 Introduce or deepen student’s knowledge of life & death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies 
    5 Engage students in contemporary debates that relate to life and death
    6 Develop students’ awareness of, and ability to critically reflect on the politics of life and death in their own cultural background
    7 Develop students’ critical thinking and digital 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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 3

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    7

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    5

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    7

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    4, 6

    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.

    4

    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

    7

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    All required learning resources will be provided via the MyUni site 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.

    Glaskin, K., M. Tonkinson, Y. Musharbash & V. Burbank. (Ed.). (2008). Mortality, mourning and mortuary practices in Indigenous Australia. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

    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 central to this course. It will be used to communicate with students through Announcements & Discussion Posts, as well as to post recorded lectures (Echo360 or Zoom) and powerpoint slides. MyUni will also have the details for assignments & be used for submission.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is taught through a combination of lectures, workshops and online/zoom discussions. 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 students 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.

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

    Lectures: 3 hours per week
    Workshops: 9 hours per week
    Weekly reading and preparation for workshops: 6 hours
    Assignment preparation and writing average per week: 5 hours
    Learning Activities Summary
    WEEK 1: LIFE
    Module 1 Introduction
    Module 2 Pregnancy & Birth
    Module 3 Cultural Politics of Reproduction
    WEEK 2: LIFE/DEATH BOUNDARIES
    Module 4 Brain death & Organ Transplantation
    Module 5 Social Birth & Social Death
    Module 6 Dying & the Good Death
    WEEK 3: AFTER DEATH
    Module 7 Funerals, Memorials & Cemeteries
    Module 8 Funerals & Grief
    Module 9 The Afterlife
    Specific Course Requirements
    In Week 3 there will be a field trip to the West Terrace Cemetery during one of the workshops. If students cannot attend, they will be able to visit at another time or at another cemetery of their choice (or do something to make up for this component).
  • 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
    Course Participation Formative & Summative 10% 1, 2, 3, 5
    Critical Reflective Journal Formative & summative 3 x 15% = 45% 4, 6
    Research Essay Summative 45% 3, 7
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Review of lectures and attendance at face-to-face or online workshops is essential for success in this course.
    Assessment Detail
    Course Participation (10%): All workshop participants must have read all of the required readings for each module, and be prepared to discuss them. Participation means being actively involved in discussions either online or offline and demonstrating a working knowledge of the readings. This forms the basis of the Participation mark. 

    Critical Reflective Journal (45%): You will need to write 3 separate 600 word entries each worth 15%, due at the end of the each week of the course. These need to critically reflect on life & death, & your own views and experiences. These need to be linked to relevant literature, but this is NOT a review of the required readings.

    Research Essay (45%): You will choose an essay question and research it in depth to write a research-based essay of 2500 words.
    Submission
    All submission will be through the MyUni site for this course.
    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

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.