Anthropology Course Descriptions
- Introduction to Anthropology
Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to freshmen.
- General Linguistics
See Linguistics 311 for description.
Linguistics 311 Description
- Advanced Linguistics
See Linguistics 312 for description. Not offered 2006-07.
Linguistics 312 Description
- Language in Society
See Linguistics 313 for description.
Linguistics 313 Description
- Cultural Perspectives of the United States
Full course for one semester. In what way does it make sense to talk about the U.S. as a sociocultural unity? Conflicting claims about which underlying forces really constitute and shape America are not merely issues for us as analysts, but rather are a crucial part of the phenomena we seek to study. As part of our work we will explore various historically located U.S. perspectives on what counts as “reality.” The aim of the course is to contribute to a sophisticated cultural anthropology of the United States by developing analyses that incorporate, without necessarily confining themselves within, indigenous models of sociocultural process. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
- Communism and After: Ethnography of a Strange World
Full course for one semester. What enabled Czeslaw Milosz to write The Captive Mind, where he tried to explain “how the human mind functioned in the people’s democracies,” was that the “system invented by Moskow” seemed “infinitely strange” to him. This course will take the “strangeness” of the social form that molded lives of hundreds of millions in the twentieth century as an occasion for engaging in the time-honored anthropological endeavor to make the strange familiar. Due to the general inaccessibility of Communist countries to Western anthropologists, most ethnographies covered in the course will be about post-socialism. However, we will extend the ethnographic approach to the study of the “real Communism” as it existed until 1989 by treating available sources (such as film, literature, essays, and diaries) as grist for anthropological mills. This attempt to understand “what was Communism and what came after” would thus mostly focus on the practices of everyday life and view grand phenomena of state control, socialist economy, ideology, and cold war dynamics primarily from the standpoint of the proverbial “little man.” Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Sport and Society
Full course for one semester. Sports are a central aspect of ritual form and everyday life in a large number of societies across the globe. The course approaches sports play as a fundamental practice of social formation and social reproduction. Through case studies of situated sports practices (notably football/soccer, cricket/baseball, and boxing), we will examine key issues in the anthropology of modernity: gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and stratification, violence, urban space, (post-)colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. Prerequisites: Anthropology 211 and one additional anthropology course, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Material Worlds: Skilled Craftsmanship and Symbolic Technologies in Africa and the Near East
See Art 326 for description. Not offered 2006-07.
Art 326 Description
- Anthropology of the Mediterranean
Full course for one semester. Problematized as both the cradle and periphery of Europe, and thus of anthropology itself, the Mediterranean offers a site for anthropology to confront some of its paradoxes. The course will explore the very idea and unity of the Mediterranean, and examine a number of classical as well as more recent anthropological themes strongly associated with the region such as honor and shame, machismo, vendetta, amoral familism, patronage, migration, mafia, and the uses of the past. Special care will be taken to interweave classical statements with most recent research in the Mediterranean, and to bring to close regional comparison a number of different societies ranged around its shores. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- The Anthropology of Melanesia
Full course for one semester. This course examines the social and cultural systems of selected Melanesian groups, with a focus on those from Papua New Guinea. The course begins with a consideration of the difficulties anthropologists have faced in their attempts to apply traditional models of social structure in the region. In the face of the weakness of traditional approaches, anthropologists have developed new models of how Melanesians construct their societies. This course looks at several of these innovative models, using ethnographic studies to illustrate how exchange practices, ritual, notions of gender, and conceptions of the body and of the person serve, in different societies, as the basis of social organization. Attention is also paid throughout the course to colonialism, social change, and the millenarian movements these have often brought in their wake. While the course’s focus is on Melanesia, consideration is also given to the contributions Melanesian anthropology has made to anthropological theory more generally. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Language and Politics
See Linguistics 334 for description.
Linguistics 334 Description
- Fieldwork and the Field Experience
Full course for one semester. This class is intended to provide an introduction to fieldwork by combining practical exercises in participant observation and archival research with theoretical and ethnographic writings that illuminate the field experience. Practical issues to be discussed in the shaping of classic ethnographic studies relying on participant observation include the situatedness of the researcher, relations with informants, analysis of interviews, the nature of field notes, and the writing of ethnography. Ethnographies read in conjunction with field exercises are intended to relate the difficulties of the novice in the field to the ethical and methodological issues that typically emerge in the context of fieldwork. The focus will then shift to relatively recent innovations in the discipline that attempt to either redefine the nature of the field itself, reconfigure ethnographic authority, or rethink the political and ethical stakes of fieldwork itself. The emphasis of the class, however, will be practical, and students will be expected to base their final papers on first-hand research and/or primary archival sources. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Ethnicity and Nation in France and North Africa
Full course for one semester. The course explores different, overlapping forms of social and political organization in North Africa and France. It examines the long historical relationship between France and North Africa from colonial conquest to the present regimes of immigration and transnational flows. It provides a basic introduction to North African and French societies, their histories, and their cultural make-ups, while at the same time presenting key concepts in social theory, including segmentary lineage structure, ethnicity, nationalism, and globalization, all grounded in a common set of ethnographic and literary data. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
- Time and Space
Full course for one semester. Introduction to classic and contemporary anthropological literatures on the sociocultural production and experience of time and space, supported also by readings from several allied disciplines. Emphasis is on forming propositions specific enough to be relevant to interpretation of concrete ethnographic materials. Topics of major concern include memory, ritual, narrative, deixis, chronology and time-reckoning, embodiment, landscape, the turn (or return) to history in anthropology, and the spatiotemporal organization of contemporary industrial societies. Narrower subproblems receiving deepest consideration will vary in different years of offering. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Sex and Gender
Full course for one semester. What is the difference between sex and gender? And why is this important in today’s world? This course introduces students to an anthropological perspective on the relationship between sex (the biological attributes by which a person is deemed “male” or “female”) and gender (the norms and ideals associating appropriate roles, behaviors, and sexualities with men or women). In order to understand the various debates and their stakes, we will read anthropological accounts of cultures in which sex and gender are construed very differently from our own and combine these with discussions of documentary and popular movies and video clips. The course will provide students with ways to understand how we come to consider and express ourselves as “men” or “women,” the social forces that constrain us to act and think as gendered persons, and the potential consequences for not conforming to those norms. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Languages of the Americas
See Linguistics 348 for description. Not offered 2006-07.
Linguistics 348 Description
- Societies through Their Others
Full course for one semester. This course examines the role of relations of otherness in the constitution of particular cultural and institutional orders. We consider canonical theoretical statements alongside empirical studies of such topics as marriage, hospitality, relations between the human and divine in a demographically small Amazonian community, tourism, the politics of indigeneity in nation-states, and third- and fourth-world Occidentalist discourses on people of Europe or the United States. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Anthropology of Europe
Full course for one semester. This course will address the apparent paradoxes of anthropology of Europe through the lens of a number of ethnographies about problematically European communities—communities in one way or another on the periphery of Europe. More generally, the course will consider the complex theoretical and methodological issues that arise with anthropology’s repatriation, the turning of a discipline originally concerned with defining Europe’s “Other” onto Europe itself as an object of knowledge. The course readings range across a variety of localities, ethnographic genres, and types of social situations, from traditional community studies (including peasant, traditional proletarian, and urbanized communities) to studies with an area–regional or European purview. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Anthropology of Colonialism
Full course for one semester. The course provides a historical anthropological exploration of colonialism. Drawing on case studies from Africa, Asia, and the Americas, it focuses on the colonial construction of categories of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, and how such cultural categories have been transformed or reproduced in the postcolonial present. Particular attention is paid to how processes and institutions of education, domesticity, urban planning, and census-taking contribute to the production of docile subjects and the maintenance of colonial political and economic structures. Resistance, contestation, and de-colonization are similarly addressed. Readings are drawn primarily from the field of anthropology. Given its focus on colonialism, the course provides students with a strong theoretical introduction to the burgeoning sub-field of historical anthropology. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Problems in Indonesian Ethnography
Full course for one semester. Introduction to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago and the history and theory of anthropological research among them. Emphasis is on close reading of full-length monographs about particular local communities, including monographs thematically focused on kinship and ritual. The diversity of social situations in Indonesia today, and the region’s complex history at the crossroads of travel, trade, conversion, and state formation, will lead us to question the nature of the anthropological unit of study. What is the relationship between notions of culture, area, or community on the one hand, and colonial and postcolonial politics on the other? What is the presence of history in a contemporary society? What is the potential presence of history in an anthropological monograph? What is the place of alterity—affines, divinities, foreigners, foreign objects, broken rules—in local peoples’ most basic self-understandings? Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Gender and Ethnicity in China and Tibet
Full course for one semester. Chinese and Tibetan peoples have interacted for centuries, but it is only in the last half of the twentieth century that the “Tibet question” in China has risen to global attention. This course looks at modern Sino-Tibetan relations through the lens of ethnicity and gender as a way to understand the contentious process through which the Chinese nation-state and national identity have been constructed. Through lectures, readings, films, and discussions, we will explore the diversity of Tibetan and Han Chinese family organization, gender ideologies, and ethnic identities just before, during, and after the Communist revolutionary period. This perspective will shed light on the incorporation of Tibetans as a “minority nationality” in the Chinese “multinational state,” the role of such minorities in constructing Han Chinese majority identity, and the differing effect of state policies on men and women. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07..
- The Anthropology of Development in Post-Mao China
Full course for one semester. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, state leaders have struggled to chart a course to a Chinese modernity that would break with the perceived humiliations of European domination in the 19th century and bring China commensurate status in a newly configured world stage of nations. Since Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms in the early 1980s, the PRC has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As such, it is poised to have major impacts globally, and especially since the PRC’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, these meteoric socioeconomic changes have complex implications for the it’s diverse 1.2 billion people. This course draws on anthropological theories of modernity, capitalism, globalization and development emerging in the 1980s and ’90s to turn a critical eye on discourses and practices of “development” (ch. fada) in the PRC. Drawing on theoretical, historical and ethnographic writings, as well as on other media such as government policy papers, advertising and documentary films, we consider the contexts and contradictions of various development efforts just before, during and after the Maoist period, focusing especially on the post-Mao era of economic reforms. The PRC thus will serve as a case-study for our broader examination of theories conceptualizing the relationships between global capitalism and local realities. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
- Media and Popular Culture in Post-Mao China
Full course for one semester. China’s open door policies and economic reforms since the death of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution have radically altered the state’s ability to control the mass media and popular cultural production. This course examines the implications of this process for national, ethnic, and gender identities among diverse citizens of the Chinese state on one hand, and for CCP efforts to maintain its political hegemony on the other. Through readings, film and video clips, and discussions we will explore different genres of cultural production in contemporary China in their sociohistorical contexts and in relation to recent Marxist and feminist debates about the production, interpretation, and subversion of dominant ideologies in mass media. This perspective will shed light on the actually complex processes through which popular and elite, state, and local contexts are constructed in China, and allow us to interrogate recent assumptions about “globalization,” “Westernization,” “sinicization,” or “modernization” as inevitable homogenizing and leveling forces. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
- Indians and Northern Native Americans
Full course for one semester. The course examines the cultures of the Eskimos/Inuits, Aleuts, and North American Indians in historical perspective, placing emphasis on regional diversity. Readings focus on earlier conditions of culture, Euro-American stereotypes, language, and contemporary contexts in which ideas of “Indian” identity and culture are increasingly contested and objectified. Focus is on interpretation rather than description. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
See Linguistics 373 for description. Not offered 2006-07.
Linguistics 373 Description
- Urban Anthropology
Full course for one semester. The course provides an introduction to urban anthropology, with a particular focus on the colonial and postcolonial metropole as an exemplary site for the reciprocal influences of global and local processes. It explores how the city functions simultaneously as a locus for the negotiation of cultural diversity and for utopian ideals of rational communication. Drawing from cases throughout the “developed” and “developing” worlds, the course examines how urban culture is produced and reproduced under regimes of industrialization, colonialism, modernism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
- Ethnographies of Technologies
Full course for one semester. Ethnographies are classically centered on a spatially delimited group of persons, bound together by their shared ideational systems, which make human activities meaningful rather than merely instrumental. But as Boasian anthropology long noted, cultural traits don’t just bind people together into a holistic entity; they also are diffused across borders and used in different ways in different places. And cultural forms are not just ideas. All symbolic forms have to exist materially in order to have a social life. And human activities aren’t just valued for their meaningfulness; they are also experienced as means to ends. Ethnographies of technologies force us to come to grips with these three aspects of culture, too often swept under the rug. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism
Full course for one semester. The course examines earlier and contemporary theoretical perspectives on the relationships between socio-cultural systems, human biology, and biophysical environments. Topics include the nature–culture opposition and its non-Western counterparts, the constraints of non-discursive nature on culture, the discursive construction of nature, primitivism, sociobiology, science studies, the “posthuman terrain,” Western environmentalism as a cultural system, ecofeminism, premodern subsistence systems, the ecological noble savage, environmental religions, and Third- and Fourth-World peoples’ relations with global and local environmental movements. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
- Commodities and Human Agency I
Full course for one semester. In Marx’s analysis, commodity fetishism severs the link between the moral conditions under which a given commodity is produced, and the image under which that commodity circulates in the marketplace. Yet many people are interested in coordinating human productive activity so as to realize social and environmental values–a project that entails forms of collective agency. In this course, we examine the theoretical and ethnographic material necessary for an anthropological understanding of the problem, including comparative study of systems of exchange. Students who enroll in the course have the option of enrolling in a subsequent practicum course on this subject, with a fieldwork component. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
- Commodities and Human Agency II
Full course for one semester. Historically and currently, various movements have attempted to link commodities’ marketplace images to their ethics of production, a link which capitalism is notoriously analyzed as severing. Such efforts include “fair trade” coffee, “no sweat” clothing, and the marketing of organic products as having been produced in conditions less damaging to the environment and to workers. In such projects, producers, marketers, and consumers face problems of how to establish trust and mobilize coalitions across socioeconomic divisions and spatial localities. The conference will seek to determine what semiotic and material practices enable or constrain these efforts, through our readings and through students’ fieldwork at multiple such sites, exploring how anthropologists can make ourselves useful. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 and Anthropology 387. Conference.
- Anthropology of Art
Full course for one semester. The discipline that considers marginal phenomena powerful sources of insight might itself be fruitfully examined through one of its own marginalized sub-fields–the anthropological study of art. Starting from the problem of what constitutes the realm of art in non-western cultures (or whether there is such a universal category), we will review classical anthropological studies of primitive art and the major types of questions they pose: the function(s) of art, the social position of art-producers, the politics of artistic presentation, the sociology of aesthetic judgments, the social agency of artistic objects, and in particular, the formal analysis of art objects as diagnostic of larger social/cultural patterns. We will explore the ambivalence of anthropology toward modern Western art, and its uneasy but potentially fruitful dialogue with established disciplines that take various art genres as objects of historical and theoretical studies (i.e. art history/theory, musicology, visual studies, film theory/history). Finally, some boundary-threatening forays of anthropologists into art-making will be examined. While the course will attempt to press all the currently recognized art modalities through the anthropological scrutiny, the paradigmatic cases will be the visual/plastic art and film. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Theories of Migration
Full course for one semester. This course explores the major ways in which social scientists have interpreted migration. Readings are taken from anthropology, political science, sociology, demography, and history. Most readings concern recent migration to the United States. We consider both the politico-economic and ideological contexts of migration as well the experience of migration and the relationships that people maintain to the multiple sites in which they have lived. We also particularly consider identity formation and the ways in which migrants are influenced by the racial, ethnic, class, and gender formations of the multiple societies in which they live. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Performance and Performativity
Full course for one semester. Anthropologists have long been interested in the complex dynamism of social life. Yet early attempts to account for this dynamism in the construction of cultural and linguistic worlds were obscured in favor of static representations of “cultures” and dualistic understandings of sociocultural structures versus individual actions or intentions. This course considers “performance” and “performativity” to be recent rubrics that group together a wide variety of social theorists who have focused instead on the emergent and contested nature of all meanings as they are communicated in everyday and ritualized speech and practice. The course will develop from key foundational texts in the philosophy of language to more recent theoretical and ethnographic work to explore the implications of this perspective for understanding language as social action, the nature of “context” and interpretive politics, the relationships between formal events or performances and everyday life, and the social construction of selves and others. By directing analytic focus to the indeterminacy, ambiguity, and multiplicity inherent to social life, the course challenges students to reconsider some of the central issues in anthropological theory, such as agency, identity, power, and resistance. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
- Ethnography as Linguistic Practice
Full course for one semester. This course considers ethnography as a set of linguistic practices, including ethnographic writing, interviewing, and the potentially infinite number of linguistic genres entailed in “participant-observation.” We will approach these practices from analytic, critical, and practical perspectives. Alongside our reading, students will each conduct field exercises on a topic of their choice (ongoing research projects are welcome), and reflect on their own and others’ strategies in such situations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Full course for one semester. This course is a critical introduction to anthropological analysis of sign systems. We begin with a close examination of the power and limits of the basic idea of anthropological structuralism, as fashioned by Lévi-Strauss in an attempted adaptation of breakthroughs in phonology to the study of cultural process at large: the idea that the significance of a sign rests in its positional value within a system of other elements. We then examine some alternative or complementary approaches to signs, which are all broadly “pragmatic” in the sense that they focus more squarely on problems in the relation between sign systems and sign use. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or 311 or Linguistics 311. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- After Structuralism
Full course for one semester. Contemporary issues and debates in cultural anthropology. Topics include practice theory, poststructuralism, reflexivism, political economy, power and resistance, globalization and late capitalism, gender studies, postcolonial criticism and alternative modernities, cultural objectifications and "invented traditions," strategic essentialism, the "new culturalism," and cultural diacritics of collective identity. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 and one additional anthropology course or consent of instructor. Conference.
Full course for one year.
- Independent Reading
One-half or full course for one semester. Open only to upper-class students with special permission.
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