You are “full of skit” skit guide

Here is a guide to skit development.  Use these as a rough draft to develop some of your own.  Mark and Patricia are the captains of the two teams you will break into. -jim

This is an evolving assignment that dates back a few years. Here is the current semester version of it. You are free to make changes, and not all of these have to be done. However, everyone should have a role to play.

Form groups of 5 or 6 students to compose and perform an approximately 15 minute skit in which key theorists from the course are portrayed. Use a plot that facilitates the presentation of their ideas.

The plots of the skits could go in several ways. The key to all of them is that the theorists in question get a chance to express their views clearly in the dialogue. You might dream up a novel plot, or “rip off” a pre-existing plot; either way is fine. Standard plots that might work include:

  • Guests attend a dinner party; one of the guests is murdered. Sorting out who done it would provide opportunities for a detective character to interrogate various guests and try to find the one with the best motive, maybe the one with the most theoretical differences with the murdered guest…
  • A group of people is shipwrecked on a deserted island and must work out a way to survive the island, and each other. Better still, it turns out that there are “natives” on the island… “Survivor,” “Lost,” and so on are all open game!
  • A Roast of the Theoretical Stars
  • You are gods on a new worlds; gods at war
  • The theoretical dating game
  • Holy war; made up of theoretical tropes
  • Soap Opera “Desperate Theorists”
  • Super Hero, justice league, Heroes vs Villains
  • Singles Bar
  • Home of the soon to die –
  • 1950s sitcom
  • Leave it to Beaver with Ruth & Margaret

Anachronism and general creativity will obviously be necessary, since most of the theorists involved in the skits were not contemporaries. Feel free to play around with the details of who, what, when, where, etc., but DO pay attention to representing the ideas of the theorists accurately. Costumes, props, etc., really help to convey the messages of your skits.

Group 1: Steward (cultural ecology) and Leacock (feminist anthropology)

Key tension: Steward was notorious for ignoring gender in his analysis, while Leacock and other feminist anthropologists maintain that gender is a central issue in any sociocultural analysis. On the other hand, both Steward and Leacock were materialists, so they do have some common ground.

Group 2: Morgan (unilineal evolutionism) and Boas (historical particularism)

Key tension: Morgan and other UEs envisioned a progression of societies from primitive to civilized, while Boas argued that such a scale is inherently evaluative and, anyway, not supported by the evidence. The tension is between a form of “ethnocentric anthropology,” and the father of modern cultural relativism.

Group 3: Wolf (political economy) and Geertz (symbolic anthropology)

Key tension: Wolf was a materialist and Marxist, while Geertz emphasized the primacy of “symbols and meanings” in defining and driving human life; he has been often criticized for lack of attention to the power inequalities that are central to political economy. Also, Wolf was interested in large-scale interconnections, while Geertz was known for a rather tight focus on particular cultures. There is a lot to work with here.

Group 4: Steward (cultural ecology) and a representative of post-modernism

Key tension: Steward had a strong commitment to anthropology as a science and to finding cause-effect relationships with a particular emphasis on materialism. Post-modernists (depending on the particular type) would question the assumptions that underlie a science of humanity, attack the certainty with which Steward drew his conclusions, and emphasize biases inherent in anthropological work.

Group 5: Mead, Ortner (structuralism and feminism), Leacock (anthro and gender) Lila Abu-Lughod (postmodernism), Aihwa Ong (postmodernism), and any one of the males we have studied.

Tension: Bearded or moutacheoed, perhaps, but on this occasion outnumbered, he at lasts decides to listen, really listen, to what the women anthropologists have to say. Where are they? A desert island? A dinner party? Witnesses to a headhunter’s rage? Held hostage by religious radicals? Delegates to the Democratic Party National Convention? How do their differences play out? See if you can do this without making the male the center of attention—I think there are more tensions among the women, but they may argue it out using him as the audience.

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  • theanthrogeek  On March 26, 2009 at 10:17 pm


    Kathryn P

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