Week 7 grades are complete and final grades have been submitted and should be available to you in the next few days (if you fill out the SIRS evaluation).  One of the exam questions was poorly worded, so I made sure this question did not count against anyone.  I also made a determination on borderline grades, which is reflected in final grades.  Thank you all for your hard work this semester and I wish each of you the best in your future educational and professional endeavors!!!

PS- I am a little behind in email correspondence, but will be working to respond to the remaining few unanswered emails as soon as possible.

ANNOUNCEMENT # 10: August 16

—Please remember to finish your final comments and the Final Exam today, and please fill out the SIRS evaluations!—

Week 6 grades are now up, please check for errors.  Overall, the posts were good.  Many of you were careful to include a reading, and the article on sushi was most common.  A few of you did really excellent work and I was pleased to see you really engaging a complex subject.  A few other people appeared content to discuss what was already familiar.  Others seemed to be writing for a different class and not engaging this class’ materials, which may have resulted in a zero.

As a word of advice for the future, if you want to discuss something you have already studied or wrote about, consider revisiting the ideas and building them into a fresh essay relevant to your current context. I would strongly suggest that you not copy and paste.  I have seen zeros given for ‘self-plagiarism’ in papers worth many more points than these posts, and the consequences can be even more severe outside of college.

I will be working to finish the remaining grades as soon as possible, but please be patient.  Also, I will have intermittent email access over the next week and may be delayed in responding to your messages.

I hope that you all learned from each of the week’s themes and will carry this knowledge and the anthropological perspective with you as you become ever more informed global citizens!  I wish each of you well in your future travels, experiences, and endeavors 🙂


ANNOUNCEMENT # 9: August 7


Below are four (4) important announcements about Weeks 5, 6, & 7 and SIRS forms.  Please read them all!!

(1) Week 7 is our final week of class and THURSDAY, August 16th is our final day, NOT FRIDAY.

  • The Week 7 Blog Post Assignment and Final Exam will be available on SATURDAY, August  11th, to accommodate the short week. 
  • you will find the Final Exam in D2L, in “Quizzes” under the “Assessments” tab
  • Week 7 Blog Post is due by 11:59pm EST on WEDNESDAY, August 15th 
  • Comments and Final Exam are due by 11:59pm EST on THURSDAY, August 16th
  • NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS ARE CONSIDERED, so give yourself enough time!!

(2) Student Instruction Rating System (SIRS Online) collects student feedback on courses and instruction at MSU.  Forms will be available for students to submit feedback from 8/10/2018 to 8/28/2018.  Our class is ANP  201, Section 730.

                    THE SIRS ONLINE FORM IS FOUND AT:

  • Students are required to complete the SIRS Online form OR indicate within that form that they decline to participate. Otherwise, final grades (for courses using SIRS Online) will be sequestered for seven days following the course grade submission deadline for this semester.  Rating information collected by SIRS Online is reported in summary form only and cannot be linked to individual student responses. Student anonymity is carefully protected.

(3) Week 5 grades will be done by Wednesday (Aug. 8) morning.  Check grades then for any errors.  Posts were pretty good given the complexity of the topic. Although an over-reliance on lecture material and omission of reading materials caused a problem for some, I was a bit flexible on how people discussed the labor portion of the prompt.

(4) Week 6 Blog Post assignment gives two options.  Remember that you must include readings, whichever option you choose.  Blog post assignments that do not engage readings may not receive credit, and lecture material does not count as readings.  As always, remember to follow the general requirements of a post (correct title, category, published, above minimum word count, due date) to be considered for credit.



I am starting to receive some questions about the content and assignment for Week 5, and I want to share my response.

Question: What exactly are the systems of exchange, are they production, allocation of resources, technology, and division of labor?  Is this what should be discussed in the blog post?

Answer: Systems of exchange can be pretty complicated and the assignment prompt is somewhat vague. What you have identified are attributes of production in a system of exchange. System of exchange is an umbrella category for the organization of production and distribution, with several different types of ways these two big goals are met. For clarity of labeling ‘types’ of systems of distribution, you might look to distribution types, i.e. market exchange, barter systems, etc. while acknowledging related forms of production.

What I want to see in the blog posts is a discussion (that is, an exploration and analysis) of relationships between types of production, distribution, and labor, and how systems can differ (or change) to accommodate or not the needs of a society. This should be based on examples from the literature* and films whenever possible, as well as the lectures. You have a lot of freedom in how you write your blog. There is no set number of types to discuss, only that different types are explored. If you are worried about whether or not you are doing it right, just be sure to back up or justify your assertions. The clearer you are about how you are addressing the assignment prompt, the clearer I will be when I grade.

*you must engage readings in your blog post for credit.


Great Job!  Grades for the last two weeks are up, please check them to make sure they are accurate.  Also, for planning purposes, Week 7 will include a final blog post as well as a final exam, so try to schedule enough time.  More info on this will come next week.

Important Week 5 Reminders: Some of you are composing high quality posts but losing credit because of simple errors or momentary forgetfulness.  If you haven’t already, make a checklist of all the general requirements of a post (title, category, published, above minimum word count, due date) and be sure to also list the particular features of a week’s blog post instructions for yourself to be sure you address all the areas.  If you have a question about it, email me!

Some have asked about extra credit.  Unfortunately, there is no extra credit.  However, I do and will make a personal note of high quality work in my records, and consider outstanding work when evaluating a final grade that is borderline to a higher grade.

In the Week 5 assignment, there are three requirements described.  List them and make sure your post meets the expectations.  And remember, as I reminded and clarified in Announcements 4 and 5, you must engage readings in your blog for credit, not just lectures/films.

Week 3 Commentary:  Your Week 3 blog posts about different rituals were amazing!  Here’s a review of the rituals described: 7 weddings and 4 engagement rituals (including from/in Yemen, India, China, Angola, and Vietnam); 10 Holiday celebrations (including several from China, and Iran and Romania); 6 posts related to sports; 9 religious rituals; and several others about marking time, establishing group membership, or the informal rituals we often take for granted.  You all did excellent work for week 3, and the comments were excellent too!  A few people forgot to identify a ritual type in their description and unfortunately did not receive credit, so be sure you follow ALL the directions in the instructions.

Week 4 Commentary:  The Week 4 posts were very good as well.  It is not always easy to capture complex family relations in a graphic form, or even to accurately know such relations, but you all pushed through the challenges and created some great charts.  You might consider elaborating on these charts with names and information, for your own family history records.  The only problematic issue that I saw was that a few people merely described their chart.  This is not the same thing as listing/discussing trends in the chart, which was necessary for credit.  To clarify, trends in the chart are not concerned with particular details, but rather identify patterns or generalizations about the family based on the chart.  Some of the symbols that people used were different, but as long as there was a key, these posts received credit.



I received some questions about the Blog Post assignment this week (Week 4).  To clarify, the assignment is to create a personal kinship chart based on at least three generations of your family members, similar to the chart that began to be explained around minute 19 of the first lecture.  The Blog Post assignment does not ask you to make or choose from the ideal type kinship system charts discussed afterward in the lecture.  Also, please do not include names or titles in your chart, only symbols.

The only writing involved in the Blog Post assignment is the list of trends that you see in the chart you make, not an explanation of these trends.  However, each of you are still expected to comment on two other blog posts at the designated word count range, which may be a good place to elaborate upon some of the ideas from the readings and videos. Also, although the Blog Post does not ask for analytical writing, please keep up with the readings and videos as materials from all the weeks are included in the final exam at the end of the semester.

As a reminder, Week 3 grades will be submitted a bit later than normal but should be in within a week at the latest.


The grades are in for Week 2 assignments. Most people did pretty well in identifying main ideas of the articles and films, and integrating these points into their discussion of the question.


  • Be sure to address or integrate ideas from the readings (actual articles) for credit in the relevant blog posts. You don’t need to include the whole article title, but you should mention the author’s name.
  • The inclusion of personal experiences or outside examples is fine, but should be clearly integrated or backed up with points made in the week’s readings and other content.
  • Be careful about only citing the shortest article in your blogs, so this doesn’t become a problem.

Grading: As a warning, for Week 2 only, some partial credit was given in posts that insufficiently integrated content from article readings.

As always, make sure your posts are not late and are published with the correct title and category (otherwise I do not grade them).

I look forward to your Week 3 work!

PS – grades for week 3 may come in a bit late next week



Well done on Week 1 Assignments everyone! Your grades for Week 1 are posted in D2L. Please check them to make sure they are accurate… but not yet… keep reading first!

MY GRADING:    Due to the confusion around getting the first week logistics in order, I decided to grant partial credit this week ONLY. You may have received partial credit if: 1) your post was submitted a bit late, 2) your post was not categorized, or 3) if your comments fell below the minimum word count. You received zero credit if the assignment was incomplete, i.e. if your post did not include a map or you only left one comment instead of two.

I graded the content of the posts with some flexibility as well this week, giving credit even if some details of the assignment (like time or location) were missing.

For the rest of the semester, I will be grading more strictly. Be sure to carefully follow ALL of the directions of the assignments. If you like, make a checklist of what is asked of you each week. This includes the general guidelines found in the “Assignments & Grading” tab, as well as the particular details of each assignment. If your post is missing something, it will likely receive a zero in the future.

WORD COUNT: In grading, I take the minimum word count very seriously, but am more flexible on the maximum. That means that posts or comments below the minimum word count will almost certainly receive a zero.

READINGS: Keep up with the readings and use them in your posts! In relevant blog assignments, like the Week 2 assignment, Posts that do not include readings (only video content) may not receive credit. You do not necessarily need exact quotes and formal citations, but you do need to refer to relevant authors and their ideas as you write.


The posts this week offered some great observations in really diverse locations! Formal observations are very difficult to compose, as you may have found. Each of you struggled with this difficulty and advanced a strategy to get it done. In considering future observations, keep in mind that they are meant to be fairly ‘objective.’ This means that the space and people observed should be the center of the description and analysis, and not your personal experience of or opinion about them. Think of how a stranger interested only in the block and its activities would react to your writing. Would they find it informative or too much about its author?

In observations, an exact location and time is important. Some of you were vague and left room for doubt. A few of you wrote from a mobile position, which can make it difficult to later identify directions and relative positions of physical structures. Consider observing from a stable position to avoid confusion. Also remember to describe first and then speculate about significance based on those descriptions, assuming as little as possible in the descriptions themselves. The more detail that is involved, the more useful an observation will be in the future…even if the analysis proves inaccurate! And finally, the use of poetic or literary language can be very useful in observations, but only as it (or after it) services the details you are describing. If the poetic language is only describing your impressions and feelings in the space, it is of little anthropological use. That’s all for now, good luck in your Week 2 posts!!!


Hi folks, I want to highlight a few points as you all work on your first Blog Post assignment.

Please read the assignment carefully! There is not a word-length requirement or a specific formula to follow, but there are clear expectations of what your descriptive narratives must include.  Also, be careful to describe first and then analyze what it might mean.  For example, the presence of older model cars might suggest a low to middle income area, but you need to describe the area first before you speculate about its meaning .  And don’t forget your maps!

Also, read the ‘Assignments and Grading’ tab for the correct title structure of your posts, and be sure to“publish” the post (don’t leave it saved as a draft) and categorize the post correctly (i.e. Week 1 Blog Post).

Finally, I have changed the visibility of our Schedule pages for the semester.  Now, they are ALL visible, and only the Blog Post assignments are hidden until Mondays.  Happy holidays and Happy observing!


Hi everyone.  Some of you have had trouble viewing the Week 1 Blog Post assignment “Map of a Block.”  While I examine this issue, I have included the assignment below, which is due on Friday.   Also, remember that the username/password for the WordPress site and for the videos are different, the latter can be found in the intro email or in D2L.

-Mr. Zaid, Instructor ANP 201

*Update: the issue with accessing the Week 1 Blog Post assignment page is fixed!

Week 1  Blog Post : Map of a Block/Practicing Ethnography

This assignment has been adapted from Paul Kutsche’s “A Map of a Block” in Field Ethnography: A Manual for Doing Cultural Anthropology.

Doing the assignment:

Find a block or a street that interests you. For example, choose a street that is not in your immediate neighborhood, but rather something that is outside of your usual route. You can determine how large the block or street that you want to look at is, but remember that it needs to be a big enough area for it to be meaningful, but small enough that you can describe it in detail. Do not interview any people, but closely observe the street and take notes on what you observe.

Writing it up:

In a blog post, describe the block. Make sure that you describe both the physical structures that you encounter as well as the “happenings” on the street.   Pay close attention to detail, but make sure that you explain why the details that you describe are worth noting.

In addition, draw a map of the street taking care to label the physical landscape. Do not neglect any physical structure, no matter how “insignificant” it may seem. Make sure that you include the location of the block and the time (or times) that you visited. Upload a pdf scan of the map.

Some helpful hints:
  • Do your best to describe without using language that judges the block. For example, do not use words such as “pretty” or “ugly,” and especially words such as “nice” or “interesting.” Use evidence to support your conclusions about the block. For example, in describing a block as being a wealthy residential area, describe how observations such as the types or number of cars parked outside led you to your conclusion.
  • Watch how people relate to the physical environment. How does what they are wearing, or what they are doing illustrate what happens on the street. For example, if the street is in front of an office building, do the people dress to “fit” what is going on inside.
  • If time permits, visit the block more than once. Perhaps once in the morning, and once in the evening. Or at the same time on two different days. Note the changes in activities at the various times.

*Please recognize that this assignment is to help you understand what it means to really observe. It is to give you practice in describing spaces–not to find the most compelling or active block. Do not put yourself in any situations that could cause harm to you or others in order to complete the assignment.*


Hello ANP 201 Students,

Welcome to ANP 201: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (online). My name is Shanti Zaid and I will be your instructor for this course. In this email, I will be answering some important questions about this summer so read everything carefully.

Do I have to come to campus? No.

This is an online course. You never have to come to campus to see me for any reason (unless you want to). You do need to have a high-speed Internet connection and you must log into the course website at least once a day to check for announcements.

Is this class on D2L? No, but…

The class is run through a WordPress site. The only information we will ever post to D2L is this email and your grades in the grade book. Also, the final exam will be administered through D2L at the end of the course. All other course resources and activities will be found on the WordPress site.

How do I access the word press site?

You will receive an invitation to the site in your MSU email on Friday June 29th, which includes the link.

NOTE: If you have taken an ANP online class before, you will likely already have a username/password for WordPress. If you receive an email without a physical link to access the course, go to: and use the ‘forgot my password’ option when you try to login. Use your MSU email address and you should receive the new password. If this does not work, or you know you haven’t had an ANP online class before, contact the ANP help desk: Please put the course number in the Subject line of this email, and clearly explain the issue you are having.

Please watch these tutorials BEFORE you visit the site so you know how to login and change your password (note that this year’s website will look different than the one in the video).

What is the username/password to watch this and other videos?

To watch this video and ALL OTHER online course videos, you will need to use the following universal login information. Please note that this is DIFFERENT from your word press login information, which is individual to you.

(The username/password for videos is only available in the introductory email sent to all registered students, or on D2L as an announcement)

*Please do not post the username and password anywhere, including in blog posts or comments.

What is required of me if I take this course?

You should go read the “About the Class”, “Assessments and Grading”, and “Contact” pages on the WordPress site to get more information about the course requirements and how the course is structured. These pages have a lot of information on them, but please read through them carefully, as they will likely answer any questions you have about the course.

Are there any textbooks for this class? No.

All of the readings/videos will be posted on the course website under the schedule tab for that week. Once you receive an invitation to the site, you will be able to access the “Introduction” unit which includes some quick videos as well as instructions for the first blog post assignment. Each Monday, we will release the new week’s materials under the schedule tab.

I’m confused or have special circumstances, who do I ask for help?

If you have any questions about the website or the course, feel free to email me: and make sure to write ANP 201 in the subject line and include your name and email address at the bottom. Emails should be polite and written in full, grammatically correct sentences.

I am not available 24 hours per day. Please allow yourself enough time to email me and receive a response – do not wait until the last minute to access videos, quizzes, etc.!

Its after Monday, July 2nd and I did not receive an email invitation, what should I do?

Remember, the invitation will be arriving in your MSU email so just in case, check junk mail folder. If you have not received an invitation to the course site by the end of the day on Monday, July 2nd, please send me or the help desk ( an email and we will get it figured out. Please put the course number in the Subject line of this email, and clearly explain the issue you are having.

I received an invitation but now it says the link is expired, what should I do?

It is important that you click the link and set up your account within 48 hours, otherwise the invitation will expire. If this happens, you fail the course. Just kidding. Send us an email and we will get it figured out.

Finally, I will not be sending out anymore mass emails after this weekend.  All announcements will be posted on the website so make sure you check it daily. However, I will send out this email again on Sunday so any students who added late will get it in their inbox so apologies in advance for the redundancy.

Anyhow, I am really excited about working with each and everyone of you this summer. See you online!


Shanti Zaid

ANP 201 Instructor