Fall 2018 Courses
ANTH 001 – Intro to Cultural Anthropology (Bickford, Ibrahim, King) – Anthropology is the study of all that is distinctively human throughout space and time. Anthropological theories and methods are very useful for tracing the connections between global, regional, national, and local phenomena, and how political tensions and economic disparities underpin these connections. Through words and images, anthropology attempts to explain and understand the startling differences and diversity of meaning-making, beliefs, and practices exhibited by human communities throughout the world.
ANTH 120 – Visual Anthro:Ways of Seeing (King) – The role of vision and the visual in ethnographic research is easy to take for granted. Visual anthropology critically examines how we see, what we see, and why we see what we see. The key ethnographic methodology of “participant observation” itself indicates the importance of searching for visual clues to the meaning of human interaction. This class will examine visual anthropology historically, beginning with the visual spectacles of other, exotic societies as depicted in travel literature, prints, photography, and early films. We will survey the development of visual anthropology as a subfield of the discipline, using the process making an ethnographic film as the skeletal structure of the course.
ANTH 209 – Anthropology of Social Media (Haynes) – Social media platforms have quickly transformed communication, relationships, identities, education and at times, power relations. These platforms have also become a popular topic for discussion and research, yet most claims made about social media are very general. This course takes an anthropological approach to social media in order to speak about the ways social media use is embedded in and reflective of specific cultural contexts. The course concentrates on content of social media rather than platforms, and also explores social media as a research method for understanding how people’s lives converge in both online and offline spaces. This course explores the incredible variation in social media that emerges on different continents, among people of different class and religious backgrounds, for people with different gender identities and sexual practices, and among people who are differently embedded in the global system.
ANTH 225 – Environmental Anthropology (Rizvi) – Environmental Anthropology is the study of relations that connect human and non-human lives to larger political, ethical and ecological processes in the world. In the last ten years there is growing consensus that human activity is ushering the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. However, a sizeable section of American population doesn’t believe in human-induced climate change. In this course we will examine climate change and its denial as a provocation to examine the role of different cultural and interpretive lenses through which human beings understand their relationship to the non-human world.
ANTH 231 – Giant Squid: Humans & Animals (Bickford) – As Claude Levi-Strauss once remarked, animals are “good to think with.” Starting with this observation, we will investigate how humans use animals to “think” with, what that means, who we use animals as metaphors and “organizing principles” for understanding ourselves and the world around us, and how we relate to animals and why. The Giant Squid will serve as a kind of “index” animal for the course, and readings about the giant squid will appear throughout the course as we exam and think about other kinds of human/animal interactions.
ANTH 245 Cultures and Sexualities (Haynes) – This course combines anthropological concepts with recent developments in gender and queer theory to understand cultural diversity in concepts of gender, sexuality, and sex across continents. The class focuses on cultural norms, institutions, and historical processes that have influenced possibilities for gender and sexuality in different places and times. Readings approach gender and sexuality from a number of theoretical standpoints including identity, desire, practice, scientific and medical subjectivity, institutional categories, and political stance. We will consider gender and sexuality in conjunction with concepts including social construction, performativity, intersectionality, governmentality, globalization, and hegemony. Readings incorporate ethnographic examples from several continents related to masculinity, femininity, marriage, reproduction, hetero- and homo-normativities, non-binary gender categories, and queerness. These case studies will provide students a basis for understanding how theory relates to lived experience.
ANTH 250 – Intro: Medical Anthropology (Onder) – Medical anthropology is a fascinating and fast-developing branch of anthropology with great potential for careers in anthropology, medicine, public health, international aid and development, and environmental studies. We will examine medical systems from a cross-cultural perspective, learning about traditional theories of health and illness while keeping in mind international politics and the effects of globalization. Topics include: the cultural history of clinical medicine and medical anthropology, traditional medical practices from around the world, folk and alternative health care systems, race, class, and gender in health care and health disparities in the U.S., and the relationship of human health with environmental health.
ANTH 253 – Real Indians: Indigeneity and the Politics of Authenticity (Haynes) – Indigenous peoples face pressures to conform to a variety of social and institutional expectations, ranging from state recognition to media representations. They must often balance the necessity of embodying external stereotypes and racial expectations, while forging individual and collective identities that go beyond these expectations. This seminar engages with recent scholarship in Native American and Indigenous Studies that addresses indigeneity as a political status, a supposed biological category, a social experience, and a point of departure for political involvement and activism. Our readings will also engage feminist and queer perspectives on the problem of authenticity and we will devote attention to the appropriation of Indigenous culture by non-Indigenous people. Geographic focus includes North and South America, Oceania, and some examples from Europe and Asia. Moreover, we will discuss indigeneity as a source of global affinity among colonized peoples and as a human rights framework within the United Nations.
ANTH 279 – Police in Contemporary World (Ibrahim) – Public protests against police brutality in the US in recent years have renewed interest in longstanding questions about police as an institution and as a social force. What are the scope and limits, if any, of the policing function? What is the role of the police in a democratic society? How do racial and class structures produce powerful inequalities between police power and the communities they are part of? How are we to think about the police as a force of law and order at a time when so much of their own practices seem unlawful, or worse, unjust?
ANTH 282 – Anthropology of Human Rights (King) – While anthropology explores the diversity of human experience ethnographically through local frames of meaning, human rights organizations, United Nations bodies, and international humanitarian law and conventions emphasize universal norms that transcend cultural differences and local particularities. This course explores the history, social construction, and practice of human rights from an anthropological perspective. To what extent can anthropological and legal perspectives be reconciled? What can anthropology tell us about the potential and limitations of established human rights discourses? How are conceptions of individual and collective rights constructed in contemporary political contexts? Can anthropology help us rethink our conception of what it is to be human?
ANTH 320 – The Ethnographic Imagination (Mikell) – An overview of the ways in which anthropologists have studied and written about cultural systems in a number of world regions. Using ethnographic case studies, the course explores the nature of anthropological research, concentrating on various schools of thought and approaches to ethnography, including early functionalism and more contemporary ethnography that focuses on experimental writing, collaborative ethnography, and historical approaches to studying culture. The anthropologists we will be reading examine such issues as “race,” political organization, gender roles, identity politics, the city, and violence.
ANTH 358 – Doing Anthro Fieldwork (Rizvi) – Ethnographic research examines the way people make sense of the world and act upon it based on their own perception, their experiences and history. Anthropology sets itself apart from related fields in Social Sciences and Humanities by emphasizing sustained and intimate engagement with people’s lived experiences. Doing anthropological fieldwork “involves placing oneself in the research context for extended periods of time to gain a first-hand sense of how local knowledge is put to work in grappling with practical problems of everyday life and with basic philosophical problems of knowledge, truth, power, and justice” (AAA 2013). This course offers an introduction to various methods and techniques of conducting ethnographic research.