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ANTH326 Special Topic: Sex and Culture

Within this course we will consider both enduring and emerging issues in human sexual behaviour from an anthropological perspective. We will review the interrelatedness of biological, prehistoric, linguistic, behavioural, and cultural examples of human sexual behaviour over time. Through readings, lectures, videos, web resources, and class discussions, we will examine a range of theoretical and ethnographical issues such as kinship and family, reproduction, romance, expressions of sexual pleasure, sexual taboos, evolution of erotic expression, sexual violence, disease avoidance, sexual orientation, sexual rituals, sex and technology, and the development of norms and morality in various cultures.

Paper title Special Topic: Sex and Culture
Paper code ANTH326
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2018
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $868.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,656.70

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18 200-level ANTH points or 108 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Teaching staff
Professor Paul Voninski
Paper Structure
  • Introduction to the topic of culture and sex: Review of the historic and current interest of anthropologists to the topic of human sexuality.
  • Methodological and theoretical issues in the anthropological study of human sexuality and the somewhat taboo subject of when participant observation develops into very full participation.
  • A brief evolutionary overview - review of the key theory and concepts related to the basic biological foundations of human sexuality.
  • Sex in Prehistory - a review of the development of human sexuality before the development of large State societies - a review of the archaeological evidence.
  • Comparison of cultural issues, meaning, and expression related to mating, fertility, birth control, conception, pregnancy, and childbirth within various human communities.
  • Comparison of cultural issues, meaning, and expression related to childhood sexuality, puberty, adolescence, adult sexuality, and human erotica within various human communities.
  • Comparison of cultural issues, meaning, and expression related to sexual orientations and gender roles within various human communities.
  • Modernization and culture change as it relates to human sexuality.
  • Summary - the possible future direction of human sexual behaviour.
Teaching Arrangements
Lectures and tutorials
A list of readings will be provided
Course outline
Available at the first lecture and on Blackboard
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Cultural understanding, Ethics, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Develop a comprehension of the importance of sex to fully understand human cultural development.
  • Develop an awareness of the anthropological problems and issues related to studying sex in various human societies.
  • Develop a comparative ethnographic perspective on the various elements and factors that define the role of sex in prehistoric and contemporary societies.

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Not offered in 2018

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system