Reed College Catalog


Robert A. Brightman

Social/cultural theory, semiotics and structuralism, sociolinguistics, environmental anthropology, hunter-gatherer societies, functional syntax and language typology, Native North America.

Michael Carpentier

Language revitalization, sovereignty, policing, gender theory, legal anthropology, linguistic anthropology, semiotics, Native North America.

Courtney Handman

Linguistic anthropology, the anthropology of Christianity, translation, religion and media, Melanesia, Oceania.

Charlene E. Makley

Development, globalization, anthropology of capitalism, exchange and value, gender, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and ritual, feminist theory, linguistic anthropology, China, Tibet, East Asia. On sabbatical 2014–2015.

Katherine J.L. Miller

Development, labor, volunteerism, cultural change, anthropology of ethics, Islam, South Asia.

Paul A. Silverstein

Race and ethnicity, colonialism and postcoloniality, migration, urbanity, social class, sport, practice theory, historical anthropology, France, North Africa, Middle East.

Dominique Somda

Memory, slavery, gender, ritual power, historical anthropology, Africa, Indian Ocean.

Anthropology offers a broadly comparative framework for the study of human life and experience. The discipline is traditionally divided into the subfields of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, and archaeology. Of these, cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology are emphasized at Reed. Cultural anthropology examines the range and variability of human practices and provides frameworks for their interpretation. Its distinguishing disciplinary features are implicit or explicit comparativism and evidentiary grounding of theoretical interpretations or generalizations in firsthand ethnographic fieldwork. Earlier emphasis was on nonliterate peoples of the past and present. However, anthropological research has increasingly included studies of populations of European heritage and those of literate, complex societies.

Requirements for the Major

1. Reading and writing competence in a non-English (and nonnative) language as demonstrated by completion of two units of college-level courses including a) second-, third-, or fourth-year language courses or b) literature courses taught in that language. (This requirement cannot be fulfilled by a language placement exam.) Please note: in some cases heritage speakers may be eligible to use coursework in their heritage languages to satisfy this requirement. Please consult with your adviser and the department chair.
2. A minimum of six units of anthropology coursework, including Anthropology 211, at least one area course (but preferably two), and at least one 400-level course. Transfer students should take Anthropology 211 even if they have completed substantial coursework in anthropology at another institution. Anthropology 211 is normally taken in the sophomore year and is not open to first-year students. At least five units of anthropology coursework, and as many units of HSS divisional requirements as possible, must be completed by the end of the junior year.
3. Anthropology 470.

Recommended but not required:
1. Humanities 210, 220, or 230.
2. Sociology 211.

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 305 - Musical Ethnography

See Music 305 for description.

Anthropology 315 - Language and Colonialism

Full course for one semester. This course will provide students with a focused analysis on an important but often underemphasized source of colonial power and transformation—the role of language and linguistic analysis. From early attempts at organizing what seemed a cacophony of unstructured sound to later attempts at creating viable ethno-linguistic nations during decolonization, the course will examine colonial languages and language study as primary media of domination and resistance. How was colonialism communicated? What novel languages or forms of speech did colonial encounters engender? How does language interact with other modes of domination in the colonial project? Topics covered include the role of missionary and colonial linguistics in the creation of order; language and (colonial) subjectivities; pidgin, creole, and other hybrid formations; and languages of resistance. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 320 - Communism and After

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 Moscow seemed “infinitely strange” to him. This course will take the “strangeness” of the social form that molded the lives of hundreds of millions in the twentieth century as an occasion 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 postsocialism. 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 the anthropological mill. This attempt to understand what Communism was and what came after it would thus mostly focus on the practices of everyday life and view phenomena of state control, ideology, public secrecy, black humor, and violent ethnicities primarily from the standpoint of the proverbial “little man." Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 321 - Hunting-Gathering Societies

Full course for one semester. Hunting-gathering peoples—those who forage for undomesticated plant and animal resources—occupy privileged positions in older and contemporary anthropologies as “living fossils” of proto-hominid and Paleolithic cultures, symbols of an ur-primitive and “natural” condition of human sociality, subaltern victims of assorted Neolithic, colonial, and postcolonial dominations, preferred biologization vehicles (evolutionary psychology, etc.), and exemplars of environmental nobility. After examining the roles of hunting and gathering in hominid evolution, the course focuses on real or imputed similarities between prehistoric foraging societies and those that became known historically to travelers and anthropologists after western Europe’s sixteenth-century planetary reconnaissance. Ethnographic studies of Australia, India, Borneo, Africa, the Pacific Northwest Coast, and the Canadian Subarctic attest to hunter-gatherer variousness. Social structure, settlement pattern, generalized sharing, politics, gendered divisions of labor, demography, resource management, technology, foraging strategies, and ontologies are the comparative foci. Studies of hunters and other foragers within modern states and economies (the Pine Barrens, the Atchafalaya swamp, the undomiciled “homeless”) provide additional contrastive dimensions. The course concludes with consideration of hunters’ political alignments with outsiders. The course also examines hunters’ tactics of accommodation and resistance. Readings focus on contemporary hunting societies’ alignments with environmentalist NGOs and on their participations in transnational indigenous peoples’ organizations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

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 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 327 - The Anthropology of Violence

Full course for one semester. This interdisciplinary course examines violence from a cross-cultural perspective sensitive to the consequences of globalization and to the idea that increasing parts of the world, including our own, are living in a state of emergency. 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 that mark anthropology’s attempt to rationalize the cultural difference of the non-West. For anthropologists working today, “culture” no longer provides a sufficient account of 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, exceptions, and freedoms are unprecedented. Similarly, globalization has brought about new and complex forms of violence that we are only now coming to grasp. In this course, we will move between outlining these broader contexts and formations and listening to the voices of victims, perpetrators, and the affected. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 332 - Ethnography of the Image

Full course for one semester. The image is both a device and an experience that dominates, seduces, or liberates us. This course will investigate the role and nature of the image in the development of new subjectivities and social relations found in the world today. This course will investigate that contested sensory field we call the “image," and ways in which it has been utilized, constructed, and experienced in diverse cultural settings. We will cover a wide range of social practices that cannot exist without the influence, manipulation, and the power of the image: from healing to sorcery, from mass mediation to ideology, from war to intimacy. Students will be introduced to classical and current readings in the anthropology of sensation. There will also be several screenings of ethnographic and “fictional” material that will complement and inform weekly discussions. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 333 - Persons, Things, Relations: 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 336 - Anthropology through Morocco

Full course for one semester. Since the 1920s, Morocco has been a repeated site for ethnographic investigation, a locus classicus for the elaboration of social theory, and a central region in what Bernard Cohn has famously termed “Anthropologyland.” This course explores the conditions underwriting such centrality, examining the history of ethnographic writing on Morocco from Arab sociogeography through European travel narratives to colonial ethnology and American anthropology. Through a close reading of key ethnographies from different time periods, students will not only achieve a nuanced understanding of the culture, social structure, religion, politics, and history of Morocco, but will also review key movements in anthropological thought: structural functionalism, structuralism, symbolic anthropology, political ecology, poststructuralism, reflexive postmodernism, and globalization. Prerequisites: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Full course for one semester. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 340 - Sub-Saharan Africa: Care and Power

Full course for one semester. In this course we will draw upon a series of classic and contemporary texts to explore the interplay of care and power as two themes central to the history and anthropology of sub-Saharan Africa. This course will highlight the tremendous diversity of political, cultural, and historical situations that shape the experiences of people living in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time we will also consider the commonalities that tie this vast region together. Moving out from a set of conversations on slavery, patronage, and “wealth in people” that emerged in anthropology the 1970s, we will examine the ways in which care and power have shaped the practice of politics, kinship, personhood, love, religion, colonialism, and corruption in a range of historical and ethnographic contexts. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

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. 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 and translator for biomedicine; and contemporary global health crises, including the HIV and TB pandemics. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 342 - Anthropology of Desire

Full course for one semester. The experience of desire runs through all political, medical, and economic realms. Desire is a part of personal emotional landscapes and also an essential power in the construction of institutions, encroaching significantly into domains of sexuality, embodiment, politics, nationalism, and economy. This class will primarily focus on the ways in which desire is intertwined with social forces such as neoliberalism of today, and communism and fascism of the past century. The methodology of the class is first and foremost ethnographic, with texts from a wide range of cultural contexts. The goal of this course is to assess the contribution of anthropological theory in analyzing the concept of desire and to discover how this notion inhabits and transforms contemporary medical and political anthropology. Prerequisites: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 343 - African Temporalities

Full course for one semester. In the last decades of the twentieth century, the promise of modernity collapsed across much of sub-Saharan Africa. The end of the Cold War, falling mineral and commodity prices, and the retreat of the state under structural adjustment programs all contributed in their own ways to a sense that a future, which had been just out of reach, was no longer possible. In this course we will examine the historical antecedents to this moment and explore the multiple modes of temporal imagining, such as those presented by millenarian movements, neoliberal NGOs, and national visa lotteries, that have come to fill the space left in the wake of the mid-range future of modernity. While this course treats sub-Saharan Africa as a region, we will also question the multiple uses to which “Africa” is put in anthropological and Euro-American temporal imaginaries. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 344 - The Anthropology of 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 2014-15.

Anthropology 347 - Memory and Slavery in Africa

Full course for one semester. This course considers slavery’s multiple modes of resurgence. Slavery has left significant traces in many contemporary African postslave societies. Not only the slave trades (including the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean trades) but the internal systems of slavery have been proved to still considerably affect modern lives. The consequences of the abolished institution are enduring, at both the individual and the societal level. The course argues that these various arts of memory may improve the descendants of slaves’ social integration or, on the contrary, perpetuate their marginalization and even encourage the internalization of their stigma. The course mainly discusses examples from Africa and Western Indian Ocean islands (Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius) and occasionally extends the comparison to Afro-American, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latin communities. It is based on ethnographical accounts of postslave societies focusing on the memory of traumas in contemporary societies. In addition, it looks at the relevant contributions of neighboring disciplines such as philosophy, psychology and history. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 348 - Languages of the Americas

See Linguistics 348 for description.

Not offered 2014-15.

Linguistics 348 Description

Anthropology 349 - 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 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 353 - Democratization in Africa

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the processes of introducing equality in hierarchical African societies, from colonization and missionization to contemporary democratization policies designed by governments and NGOs. Equality, as a crucial component of democratic ideals, has been promoted by many that were aimed at bringing or claimed to bring progress or development in Africa. The course explores the historical dimensions of these egalitarian policies (the context of their drawings up and of their applications) as well as their expected and unexpected social and cultural effects. It primarily covers case studies from continental Africa and Madagascar, but fruitful comparisons are notably conducted with the caste politics and the process of democratization in the Indian subcontinent. It draws on a wide range of ethnographies and anthropological theories, including colonial and postcolonial studies, anthropology of development, anthropology of Christianity, and cognitive anthropology. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 354 - Anthropology of Islam

Full course for one semester. What is “Islam” and what roles does it play in the lives, identities and aspirations of Muslims around the world? This course explores the variety of ways in which the discursive tradition of Islam is drawn upon as a set of conceptual and moral resources by particular Muslims and Muslim communities in the course of living and reflecting upon their social, political, economic, and ethical lives. Topics of particular interest include the nature of religious belief; notions of Islamic authority; responses to and formulations of feminism, capitalism, postcolonial political configurations, and humanitarianism; institutions and practices of charitable giving and service; and the mutual constitution of Muslim selves and societies. Course readings will include theoretical treatments of core questions and problems in the anthropology of Islam coupled with ethnographic material covering a variety of sectarian traditions and locations, including South, Southeast, and Central Asia; the Middle East; Europe; and North America. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

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 2014-15.

Anthropology 356 - Ethnographies of South Asia

Full course for one semester. In this course we will read a number of classic and contemporary ethnographic texts drawn from the anthropology of South Asia. We will explore topics and themes central to this regional literature, including caste, hierarchy, religious differentiation and syncretism, postcolonial identity, violence, relationality, village, tribe, and nation. We will also consider how anthropological theorizing about these topics is altered by viewing them from ethnographic locations at the geographical or social margins of the subcontinent. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 360 - Country and City in Latin America

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on such elements as social movements, agro-industrialization, crime, and urban planning, as well as ideas regarding race, gender, and sexuality that have come with so-called modernization. We examine scholarship on both contemporary rural life and large urban areas in order to raise questions about relations between the two. The course will take up theoretical examinations of the transformations of city-country relations by such figures as Marx, Lefebvre, and Raymond Williams, as well as anthropological works of both the canon and contemporary scholarship on Latin America. We will also explore original works of literature, cinema, television, and music to present ways of thinking about contemporary rural and urban life in light of the organization of the countryside. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

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.

Anthropology 362 - Ethnicity and Gender 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 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 different effect of state policies on men and women. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 364 - The Anthropology of Global Tibet

Full course for one semester. Since the Dalai Lama fled to exile in India in 1959, Tibet and Tibetans have garnered emblematic status in global debates on indigenous cultures and human rights. This course draws on anthropological theories of ethnicity, modernity, and globalization to understand this phenomenon in its historical and ethnographic contexts. Working with a wide range of theoretical, historical, and ethnographic writings, as well as a variety of other media such as film, popular songs, web sites, and blogs, we consider the global contexts and causes of changing meanings of Tibetanness before and after Chinese Communist intervention. We focus especially on the historical and contemporary diversity among Tibetans across the Himalayan region and into the diaspora, as well as the changing political economic conditions of Chinese-Tibetan relations. Conference. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211.

Not offered 2014-15.

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 nineteenth 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 to turn a critical eye on discourses and practices of “development” 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 2014-15.

Anthropology 366 - Black, Indian, and Other in Brazil

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the status and meaning of multiculturalism in contemporary Brazil. We will raise questions on the legacies of older models of racial ideology, including such concepts as acculturation, “racial democracy,” and luso-tropicalismo. The course gives primacy to intersections of race with the production of class and gender. The course further seeks to situate social movements like the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) and indigenist politics within the larger international production and exchange of ideas regarding race, ethnicity, and social justice. Finally, in addition to core course materials focusing on academic literature, we will examine pieces from Brazilian fine art, cinema, music, and television. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

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 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-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.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 380 - Anthropology of Class

Full course for one semester. Class hierarchies and social stratification are preeminent and perduring features of human social organization. More than simply a measure of monetary wealth, class encompasses a set of social and cultural diacritics of difference and distinction, the terms of which are subject to struggle and transformation over time. Drawing on Marxian, Weberian, and Bourdieuian approaches, the course will explore class as a social resource, an occupational structure, a marker of distinction, a ground of performance, and an object of consciousness. Readings will include classics of social theory as well as historical and ethnographic studies based in Europe, North America, Latin America, South Asia, and Africa. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

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 385 - Materiality/Media/Religion

Full course for one semester. The anthropology of religion was for a long time characterized by an emphasis on minds that believe as opposed to the materials through which belief might be constituted. However, recent work on the anthropology of media has started to upend this distinction by focusing on the ways in which the circulations of specific material formations (bodily practices, linguistic practices, texts in various media) constitute religious communities. This class has two primary goals: to draw out the history of these oppositions in anthropological theory, and to overcome this opposition through ethnographic analyses focused on contemporary situations that collapse binaries of mind/body, language/action, and religion/politics. Topics include fetishism, sensory and embodied experience in religious life, mediatized circulations of religious discourse, and the nature of religious language. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 386 - Saving the World? Anthropologies of Development and Humanitarianism

Full course for one semester. Over the course of the second half of the twentieth century, development and humanitarianism largely replaced colonialism and mission as the dominant forms of international engagement. In this course we will use conceptual tools related to modernity, representation, gift exchange, and globalization to explore the historical context and contemporary practice of these distinct, but related, modes of “world saving.” While much of the course will be spent attending to the critiques of development and humanitarianism raised by anthropologists, we will also consider writings by applied anthropologists and contemporary champions of development, humanitarianism, and human rights. In so doing we will create an opportunity for serious reflection about the practical and ethico-moral alternatives available in a world still shaped by suffering and injustice. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 388 - Women in Life-Cycle Rituals

Full course for one semester. The course addresses the construction of womanhood through life-cycle rituals. Women take part in rituals (such as initiations, circumcisions, rites of pregnancy, funerals) that help create their identities, shape their bodies, and define their behaviors. The analysis of life-cycle rituals sheds light on some of the processes of the cultural production of sex and gender and impels us to consider critically our uses of these categories. The course not only tries to understand how rituals act upon gender differences but also seeks to emphasize that gender differences significantly impact rituals. Gendered roles and symbolism are indeed critical constituents of rituals’ communication, action, and overall efficiency. The course relies upon ethnographies focusing on different geographical areas (Africa, Asia, and Oceania) and takes into account theories of gender originating in various disciplines. Readings and references notably include classical and innovative anthropological approaches to rituals as well as the theories and methods of gender and feminist studies. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

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 2014-15.

Anthropology 395 - Globalization

This course is an introduction from an anthropological perspective to recent theories and debates about the nature of “globalization.” What is “globalization?” Why has this term become so prevalent in social theory and popular discourse in the past 20 years? What competing worldviews and political economic visions does it encompass? Beginning with influential debates outside of anthropology, we move quickly to consider the criticisms and alternatives offered by anthropologists and their interlocutors, especially since the late 1980s. Drawing on the recent spate of theoretical literature, ethnographies, and award-winning films on globalization and capitalism at a variety of scales, discussions and written assignments will address some of the most pressing and conflictual issues facing humankind today. How new are the translocal processes now labeled “globalization?” What is the nature of capitalism in a so-called “postcolonial” or “neoliberal” age? How are new forms of infrastructure, networks, economic development, and exploitation connecting different regions of the world? What forms of social and spatial mobility are emerging? What are the roles of both national states and transnational organizations and associations in these changes? How are forms of racial, ethnic, and gender difference constructed through these processes? What alternatives and resistances have been constructed? While course readings will touch on perspectives from a variety of disciplines, the course is designed to provide a specifically anthropological lens on these issues. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 398 - Race and Migration

Full course for one semester. This course explores the major ways in which social scientists and critics have interpreted migration. Readings are taken from anthropology, political science, history, and cultural studies. Comparing the experiences of the United States, Britain, France, and Australia, the course considers both the politico-economic effects of and ideological contests over migration. The course focuses on issues of identity formation, and particularly on the ways in which immigrants are incorporated into and/or excluded from processes of nation formation and imagination. In this respect, the course is about the racial boundaries of contemporary citizenship and debates over multiculturalism in contemporary societies, as well as about human mobility. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 402 - Structuralism and Semiotics

Full course for one semester. The course begins by examining Peirce’s semiotic and Saussure’s structural linguistics, thereafter taking up the theoretical influences of these on the anthropologies and linguistic anthropologies that came after: the French structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roman Jakobson’s linguistic poetics, the structural histories and agencies of Marshall Sahlins, the pragmatics (and metapragmatics and ethno-metapragmatics) of Michael Silverstein, the ethnopoetics of Dell Hymes, and the (notional) poststructuralism of Michel Foucault. The course addresses the relations that signs and symbols contract with each other, with their meanings, and with their contexts. It also examines the contemporary status of ideas of cultural and linguistic “structure,” both overt and covert, in the light of assorted “antistructuralist” turns in recent social theory. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or Linguistics 211 or 212. Conference. Cross-listed as Linguistics 402.

Not offered 2014-15.

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. Cross-listed as Linguistics 411. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

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 440 - Translation and the Boundaries of Difference

Full course for one semester. The metaphor of translation has been used—in positive and negative senses—to describe anthropology’s goals for many years. Even if many anthropologists have given up on a model of culture-as-text that requires translation for outsiders, negotiating problems of difference still remain. How do ethnographers confront spatial, social, linguistic, disciplinary, and temporal dislocations? How do social actors negotiate these differences? What kinds of social and ideological formations control the flow of discourses across boundaries? This course examines theories of translation from a number of different disciplines—including literary studies, linguistics, linguistic anthropology, post-colonial studies, and anthropology itself—in which authors have had to grapple with the ethical, methodological, and practical dilemmas of transposition. The goal of the course is to examine translation as a pragmatic process in which indexical formations anchor discourses as they move across boundaries, looking at how those boundaries are made, contested, and reformed through time. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Linguistics 440.

Anthropology 450 - The Anthropology of Ethics

Full course for one semester. In this course we will work to define and utilize a conceptual toolkit adequate to the task of investigating how people come to live as particular kinds of moral subjects, how they understand and negotiate complex ethical quandaries, and how by doing such actors may come to participate in processes of social change. We will use a mix of theory and ethnographic case studies, many of which fall in intersections between the anthropology of ethics and the anthropology of religion, to move through a series of themes including processes of subject formation and forms of ethical work, how ethics change over time and space, and how new universal moral forms including bioethics and human rights are moving around the globe. In the final weeks of the course we will turn the lens on anthropology itself, asking whether or not anthropology might become a tool for a more nuanced and engaged ethical dialogue. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2014-15.

Anthropology 461 - Theories of Practice

Full course for one semester. Social theorists have long struggled with delineating the precise relationship between social structure and human agency in the explanation of extant cultural forms and their transformations over time. This course explores one set of proposed solutions generally classified under the rubric of “practice theory.” Building from the social philosophies of Elias, Bourdieu, Giddens, and de Certeau, the course examines how practice theory has informed anthropological inquiry and constituted a response to seemingly determinist theories of human behavior associated with structuralism and structural functionalism. Contemporary anthropological work by Marshall Sahlins, Sherry Ortner, Michael Herzfeld, and the Comaroffs, among others, will be read in light of earlier disciplinary engagement with the structure-agency question, including by Manchester School ethnographers. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the 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.