ANTHROPOLOGY 100 Non-Western Cultures and the Western Tradition

You are an explorer and trader from the (fictional) autonomous free city-state of Fullerton, a trading port somewhere on the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  The date is sometime between 1400 and 1900 (depending on the cultures you choose).  While exploring newly discovered lands, you are witness to a first contact between two peoples, a “Western” culture and a “Non-Western” culture.  You have been instructed not to get too involved with either the natives or Westerners, except in matters of commerce. Your city is anxious for new avenues of trade, and awaits your report and recommendations.  However, due to the dangers of travel, 5 years pass before a ship comes to take you home.  This allows you to begin to see some of the longer-term consequences of the contact between the two cultures.  It also allows you to learn about the non-Western culture (this will be your ‘theme’).  In the meantime, you exchange information and ideas with others (your classmates).  Your final paper will be your report to your home city.


 1.  Topic: 

Early in the semester, you will be asked for these 4 pieces of information:

a.  “Non-Western” culture:  The culture can be a band, tribe, chiefdom or state (i.e. at any level of social complexity), but it should be one that has experienced a significant contact situation with the West between the years 1400 and 1900.  If you choose one of the cultures from the Fagan text, there is an additional requirement for a source (see Sources below).

b.  “Western” culture:  Find out which Western culture had the first contact with the non-Western culture you have chosen.

c.  Date of first contact:  Indicate the day (if known), month and year of first contact.  Make sure it is within the date range 1400-1900, and that it is actually the first contact with Westerners.

d.  Theme:  While much of your report will be on the general situation, 1 to 2 pages should be on a specific aspect of the non-Western culture that you will research.  Aspects of culture may be one of the following:  subsistence, ecology, economics, politics, religion, social organization, kinship/family, sex/gender relations, medicine and healing, arts, crafts, science, technology.  Other similar themes might be acceptable as well.

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