Anthropology Course Descriptions

Anthropology 211 - 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 first-year students.

Anthropology 311 - General Linguistics

See Linguistics 311 for description.
Linguistics 311 Description

Anthropology 312 - Advanced Linguistics

See Linguistics 312 for description. 

Anthropology 313 - Language in Society

See Linguistics 313 for description.

Anthropology 317 - 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 321 - Hunting-Gathering Societies

Full course for one semester. The course combines reading in symbolic, ecological, and Marxist anthropology with ethnographic case studies to examine the characteristics of nonagricultural foraging societies in Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Arctic and Subarctic. Specific issues addressed are Western and other stereotypes of foragers, social organization and settlement patterns, demography and fertility, economic organization, technologies and techniques of foraging, food storage and the transition to sedentism, the sexual division of labor, and magico-religious systems. The course focuses critically on the application to foraging societies of models developed in evolutionary ecology. Students will prepare a research paper for seminar presentation. Prerequisites: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 324 - 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 2008-09.

Anthropology 325 - Tourists

Full course for one semester. This course explores the problem of how to create an adequate account of the structure of tourism as a sociocultural phenomenon. We take tourism to be privileged among interpersonal practices for how overtly and systematically it conjoins intense mutual involvement and mutual incomprehension. To address this pattern, we focus on specific media through which tourism unfolds. Examples include forms of speaking or writing, forms of giving and payment, forms of spatial separation and spatial crossing, and the channels by which persons on different sides of tourism acquire their expectations about it. Much of the course is specifically focused on primitivist cultural tourism. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211.  Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 326 - Clothing, Fashion, and Power

Full course for one semester. How do the ways we dress reflect and shape aspects of our identities? How are these different identities performed, enacted, and subverted in different sociocultural settings? In this course we will look at clothing as more than just what people wear and produce, but rather explore how the fabric of fashion is entangled in broader processes of power and discourse. Looking at fashion and the dressed body provides a lens through which we can understand culture and its materiality. We will analyze the production and circulation of cloth and dress in colonial, postcolonial, and global contexts. Alternating between classical readings in exchange theory and ethnographic case studies, the course follows debates about clothing and fashion from colonial dissemination of the ideas and technologies to local appropriations and self-representations. A final section explores the politics of gender and performance in Muslim fashions and draws on contemporary debates of national identity and secularism. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 327 - Violence, Suffering, and Modernity

Full course for one semester. If violence is a universal feature of human existence, its expression, its reasons, and its effects on collective life are stunningly diverse. Head-hunting, "brutal" rites of passage, ritual sacrifice—these are founding categories of anthropological knowledge. They mark anthropology's (often noble) attempt to rationalize the cultural difference of the non-West. And yet, for anthropologists working today what is clear is that standard definitions of "culture" no longer provide a sufficient framework for what is at stake in the individual and collective encounter with violence. In recent years anthropology's classic role as the standard-bearer of cultural relativism has been complicated by the fact that most of our informants are now firmly enmeshed in the modern state system, whose violence and freedoms are unprecedented. Similarly, globalization has brought about new and complex forms of violence we are only now coming to grasp. In this course, we will move between outlining these broader "contexts and formations" and listening to the "voice" of victims, perpetrators, and affectees. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 331 - Museums and Reality

Full course for one semester. This course will explore how reality is constructed, particularly through museums, historically related material forms such as world fairs and department stores, and their associated linguistic practices. Two senses of "constructed" are relevant here: firstly, the course will base itself on the social science insight that reality is construed through cultural categories and discursive practices; secondly, the course will explore the specific processes through which exhibits, built environments, and concrete models are constructed (and inhabited with an awareness of their constructed nature). Two senses of "reality" are also at play here: on the one hand, museums and related genres are commonly understood as factual, as representing what actually exists; on the other hand, certain actually existing phenomena are often construed as more "real" or more "authentic" than others: as genuine historic or exotic artifacts, or as instantiating scientific or industrial principles, or in other ways connected to a realm believed to be at once generative of and obscured by our everyday experience. The course will examine how museum exhibit creators, staff, and visitors draw on and underwrite such differential attributions of authenticity. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 333 - 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 focus is on Melanesia, consideration is also given to the contributions Melanesian anthropology has made to anthropological theory more generally. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 334 - Language and Politics

See Linguistics 334 for description.
Linguistics 334 Description

Anthropology 335 - 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 firsthand research and/or primary archival sources. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 338 - The African Crisis

Full course for one semester. Recent media and celebrity attention has focused on the African continent as a locus of endemic humanitarian and political emergency. This is reflected in Hollywood blockbusters such as Blood Diamond or The Constant Gardener as well as in Vanity Fair’s recent "Special Africa Issue." Stereotypical representations of Africa have thus (re)entered Western popular culture. In the first part of the course, we will ask questions about these representational issues and reflect on the ways excess attention to crisis limits our analytical perspective. In the second part, students will be introduced to the history of Africa through classical anthropological texts as well as explore the role of ethnography in the making of colonial Africa. We will then turn to postcolonial Africa to critically and comparatively engage with contemporary issues facing African societies including oil and mineral extraction, extralegal economies, human rights, and transnational migration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 339 - 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 makeups, 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 341 - Medical Anthropology

Full course for one semester. This course will consider the ways in which medical anthropology has historically been influenced by debates within the discipline of anthropology as well as by broader social and political movements. We will read texts from the genealogy of theory and evidence for contemporary medical anthropology, and situate them within the historic and theoretical contexts in which they emerged.  Particular emphasis will be placed on the importance of viewing biomedicine as one among many cultural systems of healing.  Some key issues we will explore include: concepts of health, healing and illness; the political economy of disease; the role of medicine in the state and citizenship; medicine’s role in the assignment and mediation of deviance; applied medical anthropology; medical anthropology as ambassador, translator and adjunct for biomedicine; and contemporary global health crises including the HIV and TB pandemics. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211.  Conference.

Anthropology 344 - 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.

Anthropology 346 - Possession and Human Agency

Full course for one semester. Starting with the self-reflective turn that occurred in anthropology during the 1980s, identifying human agency in ethnographic subjects has become a lasting concern within the discipline as ethnographers have attempted to deconstruct differentials in voice and power that often operate to the detriment of anthropology’s frequently subaltern informants. Some of the most vexing problems in formulating human agency are those raised in possession, where, according to indigenous models, human agency is understood as displaced or eclipsed. Does possession mark a failure of agency, or is it another means through which it is exercised? Through ethnographic and theoretical material, this course will review anthropological models that have posed possession as having its roots in crises of representation, in social conflict, in phenomenological apperception, and in psychodynamic tensions. These various models will be thought through by way of anthropological approaches to other phenomena that are read as being limitations on, or instances of, human agency, such as resistance, the commodity form, fetishism, and moral and ethical restraint; this course will also attempt to identify contemporary secular analogues to possession in which human agency is imagined, by those bearing it, to be interrupted, such as accounts of psychic trauma and paranormal encounters. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 348 - Languages of the Americas

See Linguistics 348 for description. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 350 - 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 2008-09.

Anthropology 351 - Religious Language and Subjectivity

Full course for one semester. Through what manners are religious subjects formed; what, if anything, is particular to religious speech; and in what ways is ethnography as a form of writing and knowledge situated to elucidate the connections between these two issues? Drawing on theoretical and ethnographic works from several different world religions, this course will trace out the varying anthropological approaches to the questions of religious language and religious subjectivity, and ask what commonalities there may be between these two problematics. Among the specific issues that will be addressed, this course will cover how text, speech, rhetoric, narrative, and other semiotic systems, in combination with bodily practice, ethical exercise, the reflective monitoring of the sensorium, along with larger sociocultural forces and formations, inform the explicit and implicit understandings that constitute religious subjects. This course will also inquire as to what contingent or structural limits there may be on the project of forming religious subjectivities, and finally this course will investigate to what degree these resulting subjectivities are capable of being represented through ethnographic practice. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 352 - 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 2008-09.

Anthropology 354 - Islam, Modernity, and the Contemporary

Full course for one semester. This course seeks to address Muslim politics and Muslim piety as a complex and emergent part of the contemporary global condition. Theologically and politically, Muslims abide by the idea of a universal community of belief ummah and recognize the impermanence of national borders. A Muslim living in Senegal will never tell you she is practicing "Senegalese Islam," for instance, though it might appear as if she is. In the past, anthropology has been complicit in the attempt to isolate the geographical borders of something called the "Muslim World." In this course we examine the intersection of local and universal Islamic "traditions," the generational politics of diasporas, the rise of virtual communities, the violence and vision of Islamism. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 355 - 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 decolonization 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 subfield of historical anthropology. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 357 - 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.

Anthropology 358 - American Christianity: History and Culture

Full course for one semester. This course will ask to what degree American Christianity is a religious, social, and cultural phenomenon that, while perhaps not sui generis, has distinctive traits that mark it as a properly bounded anthropological research object in and of itself. In the past, North American Christianity has not been thought through as fully by anthropologists as it possibly could have been; recently, however, in part as a corrective measure to this oversight, in part as a reaction to the increased visibility that religiously informed conservative political movements have enjoyed over the past 30 years, and in part as a realization of the importance that American Christianity has had on Christian practice worldwide, anthropologists have begun to produce a more thorough documentation of North American Christian life. This anthropological work has been supplemented by sociological ethnographies, as well as by material from historians who have either been influenced by anthropological approaches, or who have taken cultural material as their object. This course will survey this literature, addressing topics that will include language use, the American Apocalyptic Imaginary, conversion narratives, Christian subjectivity, and finally the distinctive relationship between politics and religion in the American public sphere that marked the last quarter of the 20th century, and which promises to be a force in the 21st century as well. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 361 - The Middle East: Culture and Politics

Full course for one semester. The Middle East has been the focus of increased scrutiny over the past few decades in light of U.S. economic and political interests, and yet the region's internal cultural complexity is poorly understood and often overlooked. This course provides both an anthropological overview of the region's political culture and cultural politics, as well as a critical inquiry into the very anthropo-geographic categories that have historically sustained a sense of unity in the region: including tribalism, honor and shame, religious piety, and poetic practices. In the process, the course explores larger comparative issues of colonialism, nationalism, state formation, sectarianism, urbanism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 362 - 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 20th 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 effects of state policies on men and women. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 365 - 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 its 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. fazhan, kaifa) 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 369 - 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 371 - Transgression and Sacred Laughter

Full course for one semester. Subversions, resistances, deviances, and other destabilizations of social order are commonly linked with laughter and with the sacred in societies of diverse morphological kind and condition. Initial readings will focus on multidisciplinary characterizations of humor, sacredness, and assorted subversions, the latter in relation to existing theories of structural, systemic, and normative social order. The course then takes up a range of ethnographic and historical materials to explore the affinities among subversion, laughter, and sacredness; this in cases exemplifying different combinatorial pairings of the three and, especially, in cases where all three coincide. Topics include countercultures of diverse kinds (Cynic primitivism, Greenwich Village in successive phases, devalued subcultures in the Fourth World), clowns and fools, comic blasphemy, inversionary ceremonial occasions (Carnival[s], Feast of Fools, mock-potlatches), and mythological “trickster” characters. Readings will be exceptionally diverse but include Bakhtin, Foucault, Kristeva, Erasmus, Hebdige, Terry Southern, Victor Turner, and James Frazer. The course concludes with critical appraisal of existing theoretical accounts of these linkages and of their imputed conservative or transformative social effects. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 372 - 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.

Anthropology 374 - 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.

Anthropology 375 - 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 2008-09.

Anthropology 378 - Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism

Full course for one semester. The course examines earlier and contemporary theoretical perspectives on the relationships between sociocultural systems, human biology, and biophysical environments. Topics include the nature–culture opposition and its non-Western counterparts, the constraints of nondiscursive 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.

Anthropology 383 - Kinship

Full course for one semester. This course surveys the study of kinship in anthropology, with special attention to the contributions of this study to anthropological theories of culture and society. The cross-cultural analysis of systems of kinship is one of the most distinctive areas of inquiry in anthropology. In its heyday, kinship was defined as a universal feature of so-called primitive societies, and the basis for social structure. In recent years, as anthropologists' theoretical perspectives have changed, scholars have questioned whether the recognition of genealogical relations is necessarily universal, or whether kinship is only a function of local cultural ideas about the body, gender and personhood. More recently, scholars have revisited kinship as a topic of study in the interest of exploring new forms of human life and experience engendered by cultural change, globalization, and new reproductive technologies. In this course, we will examine theories of kinship as social structure, theories that argue that kinship is a cultural phenomenon, and those that argue that kin relations are formed through their enactment in performance and practice. We will be guided in this survey by the question of what the study of kinship tells us about the nature of social relationships themselves. In particular, we will discuss the descent-alliance controversy, marriage systems, semantic analysis of kin terminology, the cultural critique of kinship, its feminist reinterpretation, and the recent revival of kinship studies.  Prerequisite Anthropology 211.  Conference.

Anthropology 384 - Gifts and Goods

Full course for one semester. This course will introduce the anthropological study of the economy through cultural theories of the gift, exchange and value. Starting with Mauss's theory of reciprocity in exchange as moral obligation, anthropological studies of economic behavior have sought to explain systems of exchange, transaction and circulation in relation to social forces instead of individual rationality and choice. Through theoretical argument and ethnographic cases, we will investigate how anthropologists interpret economic behavior in the context of cultural norms and values. We will discuss how anthropological theory led to a theory of a “great divide” between premodern and modern societies based on incommensurate, mutually exclusive systems of value. We will explore how this perspective informed the anthropological study of economic change, development and globalization. We will also discuss the various critiques of this theory from different perspectives. We will conclude by considering how anthropological approaches to gifts can shed light on economic activity in the modern marketplace as well. Readings include Marx, Mauss, Malinowski, Polanyi, Gregory, Gudeman, Graeber, Godelier, and Sahlins.  Prerequisite: Anthropology 211.  Conference.

Anthropology 387 - 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 388 - 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 393 - Ethnography of Global Christianity(ies)

Full course for one semester. While previously marginalized due to anthropology's traditional interest in alterity and the non-West, recently Christianity has become an object of ethnographic interest. This emerging interest is grounded in the theoretical problems Christianity poses as an anthropological topic, as well as in Christianity's rapid growth as a domestic and global social and political force. Informed by this trend, this course will survey recent ethnographic work in the emerging field of the anthropology of Christianity, covering ethnographic material from Africa, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas (including the United States). Among the topics the course will address are Christian language ideologies; the role of gifts, exchange, and global capitalism in Christian practice and imagination; the various modes of forming Christian subjectivities; the creation and regulation of proper and improper sexualities; the role of colonialism and postcolonialism in Christianity; and Christian incorporation, reconfiguration, and redeployment of local folk onto-theological categories. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 395 - Globalization

Full course for one semester. The notion of globalization, as a descriptive term for the spatial stretching of lines of economic production, has become overloaded with multiple and competing associations in the popular imagination. Academic debates in the social sciences during the 1990s were concerned with whether globalization was new or not, and how to define it. Today, social scientific inquiry has evolved to develop new methods and concepts to critique, analyze, and theorize the various phenomena associated with globalization. Starting with a brief introduction of popular discourses on globalization, we will begin to explore the ways in which sociology, anthropology, and geography conceptualize and characterize globalization. Through these theories we will develop a vocabulary with which to think about capitalism and its interconnections with globalization’s cultural dimensions. In the second section of the course we will examine the content and form of gender, racial, and economic inequalities in the context of globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 398 - Race and 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 2008-09.

Anthropology 411 - 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Anthropology 414 - Person, Self, and Subject

Full course for one semester. What is the history of the categories of person, self, and subject in the West? What shape have analogous classifications taken in other social and cultural milieus, how have these objects been theorized by anthropologists and other social thinkers, and to what degree (if any) can we take these indigenous Western schemes as having a referent apart from that which is created by their use as cultural constructs? Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 418 - 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 2008-09.

Anthropology 430 - Signs

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 2008-09.

Anthropology 460 - 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.

Anthropology 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.

Anthropology 481 - Independent Reading

One-half or full course for one semester. Open only to upper-class students with special permission.




Top of Page