In less than a month, UTP Higher Education will publish our first ever introductory textbook for four-field anthropology courses. We are excited about the fresh approach authors Robert J. Muckle and Laura Tubelle de González have taken in their book, Through the Lens of Anthropology: An Introduction to Human Evolution and Culture. At the same time, we recognize that many other well-established books already exist. With this in mind, we asked the authors to explain why they decided to write another textbook, and what contribution their book makes to the teaching of anthropology.
A: We saw that there was a niche for a fairly concise, well-priced book that provides a current, modern introduction to the discipline in its entirety. As we are both teachers, first and foremost, we wanted to translate what we do in the classroom in its best, most ideal form to meet this need. Our aim was to write a book that was not only an effective tool for instructors, but also reflected our passion for transformative teaching—the kind in which students engage with the material because they identify with it, and through that come to think about the world in a different way.
Q: What do you think is the most unique contribution the book makes to the teaching of anthropology?
A: This is a book written by anthropologists who are active researchers, yet whose primary interests are in the classroom, with a particular expertise in teaching introductory students. It establishes anthropology as one of many different frameworks one can use to view and understand the world. Moreover, this book does not shy away from critiques of anthropology. It makes students aware of uncertainties, debates, and major issues within the discipline, much more than other books. Anthropology is a fluid discipline, changing alongside the world which it examines.
Q: How does Through the Lens connect with current trends in the discipline?
A: Given their immediate and increasing relevance, it is not surprising that food and sustainability have emerged as areas of considerable interest in anthropology. In using food and sustainability as core themes we’ve provided a great way of showing introductory level students how anthropology, through making connections between people and their success in their environments, can contribute to understanding and solving some problems associated with these topics.
Q: Have you learned anything interesting during the process of writing this book that you would like to share?
A: It has been a learning experience on a number of levels. Of course, it has improved our own knowledge of the discipline outside of our areas of expertise. Aside from subject matter, we have learned to appreciate the particular challenges of publishing a textbook. To author a book that reflects not only one’s own research, but also synthesizes the cumulative, ongoing work of the discipline as a whole, while presenting this information in a manner that is clear, engaging, and respectful to students, was an experience that has made us better writers and indeed stronger anthropologists.
Robert J. Muckle is Professor of Anthropology at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of several textbooks, including Introducing Archaeology (second edition, 2014) and Indigenous Peoples of North America (2012); writes an online monthly column for Anthropology News; and is actively engaged on Twitter (@bobmuckle) in anthropology and archaeology related discussions.
Laura Tubelle de González is Professor of Anthropology and the faculty Environmental Sustainability Coordinator at San Diego Miramar College in Southern California, United States. She has won several teaching awards and is a past president of the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges, a section of the American Anthropological Association that focuses on teaching anthropology.
If you would like to request a copy of Through the Lens of Anthropology to consider for course use, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your course name, the semester in which the course is being offered, and the estimated enrollment.