Course Overview

ARCHY/ANTH 101: Anthropology of War

University of Washington—Spring 2008


Course Overview





Course summary:

The Anthropology of War is a 5 credit, project-based introductory course designed to challenge students to think critically about communal violence.  Co-taught as ANTH and ARCHY 101, and employing theories and methods from both archaeology and sociocultural anthropology, the course will focus on a series of related questions: What is war?  Is it defined the same way across cultures and throughout time?  Is group violence part of the “normal” functioning of society or does it represent the breakdown or absence of routine social controls?  Are there gendered dimensions to communal violence that cross contexts?  How is war remembered and commemorated in different cultural contexts?  What difference does technology make to how war is conducted and understood?  What might we learn if we compare the various archives of wars past with the violent conflicts we see around us today or that we imagine in the future?


The Anthropology of War is part of two University of Washington initiatives: the campus wide effort to make Foundations courses an innovative introduction to the disciplines; and the Difficult Dialogues project, which seeks to make student engagement with the communities around them a key element of their education.  We will therefore take an experiential learning approach to this course.  The course is designed to challenge students to relate their coursework to projects involving diverse Seattle communities as interlocutors.  Many Seattle residents have stories to tell about how war has shaped their identities and their communities, and the very geography of the city is determined by wars remembered and wars forgotten.



Danny Hoffman (   Office Hours: 10:30-12:30, Th (Denny 243)

Peter Lape (  Office Hours: 10:30-12:30, Th (Denny 140)


Meeting times and places:

Tuesday, Thursday: 9:00-10:20: lectures, quizzes or skills training workshop Johnson 102

Monday, Wednesday: section meetings (see below for times): discussion, project work or presentations


Section information:

    Team 1

Section number and meeting time/location:

AA (M, W; 10:30-11:20)   PAR 313

AB (M, W; 12:30-1:20)   DEN 212


TA team:

Robertson Allen (  Office Hours: 10:30-12:30, Th (Denny 409)

Molly Odell (  Office Hours: 1:30-3:30, W (Denny 411)


   Team 2

 Section number and meeting time/location:

AC (M, W; 10:30-11:20)   PAR 106   

AD (M, W; 12:30-1:20)   DEN 304  


TA team:

Karen Capuder (  Office Hours: 9:00-10:00, M,W (Denny 429)

Emily Peterson (  Office Hours: 2:00-4:00, W (Denny 411)


   Team 3 

Section number and meeting time/location:

AE (M, W; 10:30-11:20)   LOW 118

AF (M, W; 12:30-1:20)   DEN 209      


TA team:

Amy Jordan (               Office Hours: 10:30-11:30, 12:30-1:30 Th (Denny 411)

Laura Zanotti (                      Office Hours: 11:30-1:30, T (Denny 433)


Course website:


Learning goals:

We identify two primary learning goals: 1) Introduce students to the range of possibilities of anthropological inquiry, and 2) Assist students in critically engaging the challenging legacy of conflicts which have shaped their identities and the identities of others they encounter in and beyond the university.


We want students to recognize that the archeological record of fortification in East Timor and ethnographies of contemporary wars in Sierra Leone can be put into fruitful dialogue with an exhibit on the Vietnamese American emigrant experience at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum or the narratives of returning Iraq war veterans. We also want students to recognize that they have a part to play in that dialogue – as researchers and as citizens.  This course is one piece in a web of related efforts to engage students in thinking about their education as a critical engagement inside and outside the classroom. 


Course organization:

In class time for this course will be divided between sections, lectures, and skills workshops. Sections for this class will meet two times a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, and are co-taught by two TAs.  Monday sections are usually devoted to work developing and executing the projects.  Course instructors will also participate in some of these discussions, and on some weeks we will not meet in order to give students time to work on projects.  Wednesday sections are usually devoted to discussions of the lectures and readings.


Lectures will also meet twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Tuesday lectures will cover new topical material.  Thursday meetings will vary in format.  Some weeks will be lectures, others will be devoted to exams or to skills workshops in which we will go over the tools (conceptual and material) that anthropologists employ in the field and which students will use for their projects.  For example, we will hold training workshops in archaeological site documentation and mapping, use of mini-disc audio recorders and audio editing software.


Course requirements:

·         Read and be prepared to discuss assigned readings for each class meeting

·         Complete three projects and three quizzes

·         Engage with communities inside and outside of the course and the University of Washington

·         Post your projects to the course via the course Memory Map and present your project results to the class


Student assessment:

·         45% - Project (3 parts, 15% each).  Each of the three projects (archaeological mapping, ethnographic interview, and dialogue project) will be evaluated independently. See the Projects page for more information about requirements and evaluation standards.


·         25% - Participation.  This part of the grade is based on participation in the lectures, sections and workshops.  Grades are assigned in consultation with TAs.


·         30% - In-class quizzes (3 at 10% each).  There will be three in-class quizzes during the quarter which will cover material from the lectures and readings.


Other information and policies:

·         Academic honesty

All students will uphold the University of Washington standards of student conduct ( The following web site has information on plagiarism, cheating, and guidelines for collaboration:


·         Accessibility

Please let us know if you need accommodation of any kind. We can work with the University of Washington Disabled Student Services (DSS) to provide what you require. The DSS webpage is


·         Late assignments

Late submission of assignments is not accepted without prior approval of your TA.  No make-ups are provided for missed assignments in the absence of documented and legitimate medical or family emergencies.


·         Laptops and cell phones

Laptop computers and cell phones may not be used during lecture or section meetings without prior approval from the instructors.