Spring 2018 Courses

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ANTH 001 – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (IbrahimKing) – An introduction to the study of human social, physical, economic, and political adaptation within society. The course provides a comparative framework for viewing cultural institutions and social roles in traditional and complex societies.

ANTH 170 – Commerce Across Cultures: Trade in Turbulence (Brancaforte) – In this course, students will explore how business practices impact people and cultures; and how people across cultures imbue material objects, the circulation of goods and materials with personal and collective meanings. The course attempts to define and “unpack” the ideas of consumption, business, work and commerce in the global marketplace. Anthropologists are carving out niche careers outside academia as they use their methodologies to help businesses thrive, while businesses and industries are increasingly turning to anthropologists as global markets open up and cultural knowledge becomes essential. Students will apply what they have learned in the course and actually study a local business using anthropological methodologies and fieldwork techniques to gain insights for business improvement in a final consultancy project.

ANTH 185 – Global South Asia (Rizvi) – One in four people on this planet reside in South Asia, which comprises of modern nation-states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Indian Ocean nations. However, our understanding of this complex part of the world are often derived from simple generalizations that ds the long history of cultural interaction and adaptation in South Asia in the World as a source of spices, trade, spirituality, Cold War and the contemporary War on Terror. Our discussions will examine how “traditional” identities based on religion; caste and occupational identities remain salient even as their meanings change with close encounter with colonial administration, reform movements, industrial capitalism and global trade.

ANTH 207 – Love & Hate in the Digital Age (Ibrahim) – How has social media influenced our participation in the digital public sphere? How are our social, personal, and civic relationships changed thanks to digital technology? Sex and love are more than ever mediated by apps and online interactions, and we spend more of our time online and connected at the touch of a button – whether it is as consumers buying things, political subjects participating in electoral processes, or individuals engaging in the intimate of relations. Even as the internet expands as a space on and in which we conduct our life, it also reflects the dark aspects of our human behavior – trolling, shaming, and attacking others. This course explores the how love and hate are shaped in our present time, mediated by social and digital media. We will examine how violence can be a pleasurable act, how sex and love are reconceptualized through digital media, and how new ideas of public and private are emerging through our interactions with digital media.

ANTH 245 – Cultures & Sexualities (McGuirk) – In this course, we will approach gender, and sexuality as socially constructed, fluid, and changeable. We will learn how diverse cultural norms have determined different possibilities for sexual and gendered expressions of the self in different places and time. We will pay particular and critical attention to how these norms have been shaped by social institutions including the State, religion, science, and society at large. Rather than regard sexuality as the private, personal and subjective experience of desire and intimacy, we will approach sexuality as a public, political, and contested arena through which we may effectively analyze power relations and understand social structures.

ANTH 251 – Anthropology & the Body (Onder) – How does the body factor into or define family structure, gender roles, belief systems, and cultures? This course takes anthropological views of the human body as the main object of study. Focus on the body can help to sharpen students’ understanding of the history of anthropology – for example how has the field worked in the past to classify humanity into distinct races and types, and how is it working in the present to deconstruct these classifications through studying effects of racism and other topics. Students will conduct their own ethnographic research projects and have assigned readings on subjects such as: body marking and modification (tattoos, piercings, etc), gendered and sexualized ideas of the body, control of the body, the medical ideas of the body, etc.

ANTH 256 – Disability & Culture (Onder) – This course will take an anthropological approach to issues of culture and identity, with a particular emphasis on the field of “Disability Studies” – which encompasses varieties of difference in physical, mental, and other forms of ability. Examples will come from around the world and close to home. Guest speakers, fieldtrips, performances, and interesting class projects are being developed for the course. Topics to be addressed will include: Deaf Culture and the issue of Ableism in the majority hearing population; Autism, Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity; Disability Rights, Disability Justice; Veterans with Disabilities; Caregiving, Services, Dependency; “Supercrips,” Exceptionalism, Individualism; Visible and Invisible Identities; Cultures around the world — the U.S. “normal” is not the only “normal”.

ANTH 275 – Soldiers/Citizens/War/State (Bickford) – Starting from the viewpoint that war is not a natural, biological “necessity” or inevitability, this course explores the diverse connections between war and culture, how both shape and construct the other.  War and militarization play key roles in the modern nation-state, and much of what we view as “normal,” “everyday,” “common sense,” or “taken for granted” is related to the military and war.  Throughout the class, we will focus on militarization, warfare, gender, sexuality, the family, language, technology, torture, trauma, and resistance, to name but a few of the ways war and culture are related in everyday life and experience.  We will focus on the modern nation-state, the role of the military in the state, how states create soldiers, and what states do with soldiers and civilians in the pursuit of policy objectives.  Who are the victims?  Who are the perpetrators?  What does it mean to wage war for a nation-state and its citizens, and what does it mean to the object of war and violence?  How do people resist war, militarization, violence, torture, and terror?

ANTH 280 – Urban Anthropology (King) – This course explores the city as a product of, and a rich site for, humans’ negotiations over social and economic rights, identity, meaning, and community. Drawing on a variety of analytical, historical, geographic, and ethnographic studies, we will ask whether urban life is qualitatively distinct from rural life, and whether there are different types of urban life in different places and times. Debates over urban planning encompass moral, cultural, and personal concerns, not simply the planning schemes of economists, policymakers, and architects. Throughout the course, methodological questions regarding the city as an object of historical and ethnographic study are highlighted.

ANTH 283 – Race & the Black Diaspora (Mikell) – Are the notions of “race” and “blackness” just American pre-occupations resulting from the experience of Trans-Atlantic slavery, as many in the U.S. and in Africa have charged?  Issues of racial justice, race and cultural creativity, racial challenges to structures of inequality, and racial contributions to American values are explored in this engaged anthropology course.

ANTH 351 – Forced Displacement in a Hostile Time (Brennan) – This community-based research seminar on migration combines anthropology and principles of activist research. With 65 million people forcibly displaced, and over 244 million more migrants living abroad worldwide, migration in its various forms is one of the most pressing human rights issues today. As an anthropology class, we will read about the lived experience of migration – spotlighting the distinctions and commonalities between migrants, refugees, asylees, and trafficked persons. And as members of a 4-credit community-based research class, students will conduct field research and create advocacy opportunities on behalf of migrants in the Metropolitan D.C. area. In this way, you will learn from the communities around you while contributing in ways that they identify.

ANTH 392 – African Feminism Re-Imagined (Mikell) – This course explores the ways in which African feminisms have been defined and redefined over the past two decades, and the ways in which it is being re-imagined in a changing and globalizing Africa.  The very term ‘African feminism’ signified a challenge to western philosophical and gender norms in the 1980s.  It was debated and accepted by African women in the late 1990s, and then interrogated by new challenges and demands in the post-2000 period.  Now, notions of “women’s empowerment” and gender empowerment point out the complex and subtle approaches to equality that are emerging. Using women’s voices and ethnography from many different parts of the African continent, this course examines how these relationships of empowerment are playing out in places of West, North, Central, East and Southern Africa today. Recent re-examinations of African values are forcing a new look at women’s voice, their conceptions of marriage and partnership, reproduction, dialogues on Christianity and Islam, women’s roles in political and civil society leadership, and responses to LGBT issues, as societies re-imagine a modern path to African women’s empowerment.

ANTH 495 – Anthropological Theory (Rizvi) – This seminar surveys major social theories and debates that inspire and inform anthropological analysis. Over the course of the semester, we will investigate a range of theoretical propositions concerning such topics as agency, structure, ecology, subjectivity, history, technology-social change, power, culture, and the politics of representation. Ultimately, all theories can be read as statements about what it means to be human and the worlds that people come to inhabit and create. We will approach each theoretical perspective or proposition on three levels: (1) in terms of its analytical or explanatory power for understanding human behavior and the cultural and natural world; (2) in the context of the social and historical circumstances in which they were produced; and (3) as contributions to ongoing dialogues and debate.