About Me

My UVM Courses

Guide to Graduate School Admissions

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UVM Anthropology



The primary goal of this website is to provide syllabi, links to course blogs, and supplementary materials for my courses in cultural anthropology at the University of Vermont. You can also find a guide to graduate school admissions in anthropology and something about me and my research.

Broadly stated, cultural anthropology is the study of how people around the world solve basic problems of human existence--everything from how to get food and shelter and how to get along with others to how and why we believe the things we do.

I believe that one of the central challenges of cultural anthropology is reflected in a statement made by Edward Sapir, an early American anthropologist and linguist:"Our analysis may seem a bit labored, but only because we are so accustomed to our own well-worn grooves of expression that they have come to be felt as inevitable. Yet destructive analysis of the familiar is the only method of approach to an understanding of fundamentally different modes of expression" (Language 1921, p. 89).In other words, because our 'well-worn grooves of expression' (the language, concepts and world views we take for granted) constitute how we understand the world, we must strive to examine our own deeply-held concepts and beliefs - and the social processes that bring us to hold these as taken for granted - if we want to understand other ways of knowing the world. So cultural anthropology is not simply the study of socio-cultural difference, but also an 'analysis of the familiar.'

My main research interests revolve around the cultural and political aspects of "saving nature" in Costa Rica and Mexico. This research explores how meanings of nature and social change are debated, negotiated, imposed, and resisted in the context of environmental and indigenous social movements, ecotourism, and sustainable development. I have also begun a new research project on visual culture and environment, which involves research on how the media, zoos, and other public institutions help shape popular understanding of environmental issues. If you go to my About Me page, you'll see some of the books, articles, and chapters I've written on these subjects.

I'm also a writer of anthropology textbooks. I am currently co-authoring a couple of introduction to anthropology textbooks for McGraw-Hill Higher Ed, and am a co-editor for the book Talking About People: Readings in Contemporary Cultural Anthropology.

Luis A. Vivanco, 512 Williams Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405
(802) 656-1184; Fax (802) 656-4406
Updated 8/07