Yale Center for Teaching and Learning


Much of the pedagogical literature in Anthropology focuses on how culture can be understood and used as a resource for teaching. Recent literature has developed the link between adopting productive community and cultural practices in the classroom and serving ethnic minority communities as instructors. Many anthropologists also emphasize the importance of teaching anthropology with an ethical and critical perspective towards traditional methods. Teaching literature in anthropology addresses these and other topics such as diversity, gender and race, field work, and service learning.

Journals and Websites

Anthropology & Education Quarterly

Anthropological Fieldwork Online

Teaching Anthropology

Articles and Papers

Campbell, E and Lassiter, LE. (2010). From Collaborative Ethnography to Collaborative Pedagogy: Reflections on the Other Side of Middletown Project and Community-University Research Partnerships. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 41(4), 370–385.

Abstract: “Here we reflect on the collaborative research, engagement, and pedagogical relationships and processes that gave rise to The Other Side of Middletown, a collaborative ethnography written by a team of faculty, students, and community participants. We offer background on the project; discuss how collaborative researches engendered community-based engagements and collaborative pedagogies; and conclude by suggesting that those collaborative pedagogies that work between communities and universities both expand and complicate recent calls for democratic civic engagement.”

Denzin, NK. (2003). Performance Ethnography: Critical Pedagogy and the Politics of Culture. SAGE.

Description: “In Performance Ethnography, one of the world’s most distinguished authorities on qualitative research, established the initial published connection of performance narratives with performance ethnography and autoethnography; the linkage of these formations to critical pedagogy and critical race theory; and the histories of these formations, and shown how they may be connected. Performance Ethnography is divided into three parts. Part I covers pedagogy, ethnography, performance, and theory as the foundation for a performative social science. Part II addresses the worlds of family, nature, praxis, and action, employing a structure that is equal parts memoir, essay, short story, and literary autoethnography. Part III examines the ethics and practical politics of performance autoethnography, anchored in the post-9/11 discourse in the United States. The amalgam serves as an invitation for social scientists and ethnographers to confront the politics of cultural studies and explore the multiple ways in which performance and ethnography can be both better understood and used as mechanisms for social change and economic justice.”

Keene, AS and Sumi, C. (2004). Service-Learning and Anthropology. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning Summer, 5-15.

Abstract: “We are interested in the contributions that the field of anthropology can make to community service learning (CSL) and we are interested in how service-learning can and does inform anthropological practice. The assembled papers, 8 case studies and a commentary, illustrate that both anthropology and CSL are enhanced when incorporating the sensibilities of the other. Yet, despite strong affinities with CSL, anthropology as a profession has been surprisingly slow, if not reluctant, to explore this approach. We point out the common ground shared by anthropology and CSL and explore some ironies associated with the apparent invisibility of CSL within anthropology.”

Coleman, S., & Simpson, B. (1999). Unintended Consequences?: Anthropology, Pedagogy and Personhood. Anthropology Today, 15(6), 3-6.

Excerpt (Page 3): “Our argument is that we do not know enough about how anthropology as a potentially reflexive form of knowledge is appropriated by students within and beyond the classroom. Is it regarded as irrelevant to all aspects of life beyond the taking of exams? Or is it somehow applied to everyday interactions with work colleagues, personal friends and family? In other words, how might anthropology be translated by students from what is perceived as ‘academic knowledge’ into the contexts of practice out of which culture is fashioned, or at least into a form that can have an impact on self-understanding and personal conduct?”

Osborne, A. (1996). Practice into Theory into Practice: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy for Students We Have Marginalized and Normalized. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 27(3), 285-314.

Abstract: “This study is a synthesis of ethnographies conducted in both North American and Australian cross-cultural and interethnic classrooms. It establishes nine assertions about culturally relevant teaching in such settings. It argues that both the understandings and classroom practices included in these assertions provide teachers with potential starting points, informed by current best practice, for praxis-reflecting upon their own practices within a framework of participatory democracy for all.”

Hoodfar, H. (1992). Feminist Anthropology and Critical Pedagogy: The Anthropology of Classrooms’ Excluded Voices. Canadian Journal of Education / Revue Canadienne De L’éducation, 17(3), 303-320.

Excerpt (Page 303): “Critical pedagogy challenges the exclusionary practices of racism, sexism, ablism, and heterosexism in the dominant society. The exponents of critical pedagogy have rejected the traditional view of classroom instruction in favour of approaches that challenge the status quo. In this paper, by reviewing some of my teaching experiences as a woman of colour, I demonstrate that not all teachers teach pedagogy in the same way. Based on my observations, I argue that debates on critical pedagogy should include voices from outside the dominant social groups and ethnicities, be they teachers’ or students’ voices. Furthermore, the success of teaching for social change depends on our ability to incorporate these critical approaches in conventional courses and subject matters where, in my experience, not all students would welcome unconventional classroom relations. […] The techniques used to challenge the status quo are not themselves appreciated as gendered and racialized. Put simply, what works for a white female teacher may not work for a black female teacher, regardless of a shared commitment to be critical.”

Spindler, G., & Spindler, L. (1990). The Inductive Case Study Approach to Teaching Anthropology. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 21(2), 106-112.

Abstract: “We present an approach to teaching cultural anthropology that combines an inductive method and ethnographic case studies. From introductory courses to graduate-level seminars, the inductive case study approach combines written materials, films, and other aids to allow students to discover culture.”