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Dancing Skeletons Essay




  1. Read Dancing Skeletons. Write a 600-800 word, single-spaced critical analysis of the ethnography. Your essay should be spell- and grammar-checked before submitting it to the appropriate drop box on Canvas. Also remember to check that you have followed the general assignment guidelines.
  2. Your essay should not be an opinion piece. It should be a critical analysis of the ethnography. Some things to consider:


  • What was the author’s purpose in writing the ethnography?
  • How did Dettwyler incorporate the bio-cultural approach?
  • What ethical issues arose?
  • Did the author demonstrate cultural relativism or ethnocentrism?
  • What surprised you in the ethnography? Why was it surprising?
  • What questions did the ethnography raise for you?

These are just some questions to get you started. You may choose to address all of them, some of them, or none of them. They are posed just to help you get started thinking critically about the book. You can also refer to the Article Comparison assignment and the criteria you used to analyze those articles.


Your essay should include a paragraph that addresses what you learned from the discussion.

  1. Spell and grammar check your work.
  2. Put your word count somewhere on your document.
  3. Check your work against the General Assignment Guidelines.
  4. Upload to Canvas.

Outcomes Addressed

Learn Actively

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, and holism (the multiple aspects of humankind across time and space) through examination of modern human variation (GS)
  • Recognize key principles of human biology and behavior
  • Interrelate individual experiences and societal forces in the context of anthropology (GS)
  • Demonstrate ability to find and evaluate anthropological information in general and scholarly sources with instructor and librarian support
  • Complete assignments by following instructions provided

 Think Critically, Creatively, and Reflectively

  • Synthesize and critically assess anthropological scholarship and claims about humankind and the natural world from an anthropological perspective (GS)
  • Recognize, identify and address possible multiple perspectives on an issue (GS)

 Communicate with Clarity and Originality

  • Use written, oral, and or technologies to demonstrate knowledge of connections between biology, paleoanthropology, geology, psychology, etc.
  • Draw conclusions about human behavior that are consistent with anthropological theory
  • Develop the ability to identify key biological anthropology issues in the global arena, understand the assumptions underlying the arguments, and appreciate their intended audience and historical and cultural context (GS)

 Interact in Diverse and Complex Environments

  • Learn how to identify ethnocentrism and practice cultural relativism through an examination of human variation and cultural diversity (GS)