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Instructions for essay:

This essay should be about four to six pages long (without including title page and list of cited references). This essay prompt asks that you engage in a reflection about the course’s contents (no library research is needed; engaging only with the textbook’s contents and other course materials is required).

You must:

a] Read the New York Times article, “In Narrow Decision, Supreme Court Sides With Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple” (see the folder Recent Press Articles of Interest at the Student Resources link). Briefly summarize the case.

b] Read the New York Times article, “British Jury Delivers First Conviction for Female Genital Cutting” (see the folder Recent Press Articles of Interest at the Student Resources link). Briefly summarize the case.

c] Use as many specific concepts and contents (no vague reference accepted) from this course to develop a sophisticated discussion of the significance of these two cases when considered together. Indeed, they contrast meaningfully: the first case is decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of a religious perspective and belief system at the detriment, perhaps, of “individual sexual rights,” while the second could be seen as promoting individual rights by limiting the reach of religious and cultural traditions–some of which are criminalized by law (female genital cutting). In this section of your essay, you should engage in a discussion of all aspects of the contrast made by the two cases (two NYT articles) and the beliefs in the existence of supernatural forces/beings each are grounded on. You should focus on what you find most relevant in the development of your sophisticated argument, FROM AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE. This means that I am not looking for you to attempt to simply write a summary of the legal arguments presented only. YOUR DISCUSSION MUST ENGAGE WITH COURSE CONTENTS, and as you know, this is not a legal studies course, but a course that could be identified as belonging to the subfield called “the anthropology of religion.” That argument should make as many relevant references to the course’s contents as possible. This section of your essay may not focus on one of the articles only. It must focus instead on the significance of the contrast between both cases.

Your accurate utilization of course contents in the development of a well-constructed argument will be the major criteria used to evaluate your essay. The assumption here is that this course has NOT prepared you to provide a legal argument. Therefore, this is NOT what you should attempt to provide!

CITATION: You must use the Author-Date Chicago Manual of Style (see the Student Resources link) to cite your written sources (including the textbook) and list your references cited at the end of your essay. You should use a font size not bigger than .12. Your essay could be double-spaced, if you have less to say, or single-spaced if you have more to say. Your essay should not be longer than 6 pages (without including title page and list of cited references).


Your essay must have a brief introduction, a body comparing from an anthropological perspective the two cases, a conclusion, and must end with a list of cited references.

You must submit your essay as a Word file.

To repeat: This assignment will be graded according to your ability to identify and articulate an argument about the significance of the contrast between the two cases referred to in the two NYT articles, marshal evidence from the course’s materials to support the sophisticated argument you develop, as well as to show your ability to follow directions, present accurate information, and cite examples from the texts that you paraphrase. Finally, this assignment will be graded on your demonstrated ability to adequately understand anthropological explanations and adhere to the rules of English grammar. For this assignment, I look for whether you have developed a sound argument and whether you have constructed logical paragraphs that explain how the examples you have chosen support your statement about the question’s focus/target.

You are advised to take a look at the grading rubric below to better understand what I am looking for.


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