Anthropology Department


For potential majors, and those seeking to use courses in anthropology for Group B or HSS credit, "Introduction to Anthropology" must be taken at Reed. Transfer students should take Anthropology 211 even if they have completed substantial coursework in anthropology at another institution. The 300-level courses are usually for juniors and seniors, although sophomores with adequate preparation are welcome. The 400-level courses are senior courses; solidly prepared juniors and seniors are the rule.

Anthropology 201 - Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

Full course for one semester. Conference. May be repeated for credit.

Anthropology of Global Health
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in cultural and medical anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Global health presents itself as a timely intervention that redistributes the means of physical and mental well-being to those who lack it, typically in resource-poor or underserved settings. But in what sense is global health “global” if it is driven by the agendas of specific nations and institutions? How can it command such implicit recognition as a force for good and yet seem to recapitulate the imperial agendas and perspectives of the colonial era? Rather than considering global health as obvious, coherent, and necessary, we will examine its foundations: What assumptions does global health reflect about bodies, families, history, and biomedicine itself? In what ways do global health programs build upon or distinguish themselves from colonial-era medical campaigns that tied biomedical interventions to Christianity, modernization, and the demands of industrial labor? How does global health both reflect and perpetuate transnational political and economic shifts? What are the unexpected consequences of global health programs—for the individuals who compose target populations, but also for global health professionals themselves as well as local experts? In exploring answers to these questions, we will draw on recent ethnographic analyses from around the world as well as historical studies that illuminate global health’s antecedents. Conference. 

Bodies, Spaces, Subjectivities
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in cultural-phenomenological anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. It introduces basic concepts and methods in anthropology through a sustained attention to human bodies as the preeminent space of subject making in different cultural contexts. Drawing on phenomenology, practice theory, urban studies, performance studies, and gender theory, the course approaches culture as a form of doing rather than of being, as first and foremost a set of embodied, material practices and cultivated dispositions. It explores both how corporeality connects people with others and their environments, and how, in the process, bodies become objects of individual attention and social action. Readings connect classics in social theory (Merleau-Ponty, Schutz, Bourdieu, Simmel, Goffman) with canonical anthropological texts (Boas, Sapir, Mauss, Gluckman, Sahlins), and ethnographies focusing on particular forms of embodiment and space making in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. Topics include dwelling, working, playing, learning, making, modifying, exchanging, and contesting. Students will partner to conduct small fieldwork projects in the Portland area, learning basic qualitative methods in the process. Conference.

Global Political Ecology
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in the anthropology of political ecology geared toward first- and second-year students. Despite enormous scientific and political efforts, scientists and activists have found themselves unable to bring about the political changes that might reverse climate change and environmental degradation. The degradation of earth’s environment has been caused by humans, but somehow humans have not been able to stop or reverse the social processes that cause this degradation. This course examines case studies of environmental degradation at multiple scales, from Superfund sites in Oregon to deforestation in the Amazon to global climate change, to three ends: to explore fundamental questions in social theory about the relationship between humans and the world, to understand why coordinated scientific and political efforts to prevent environmental degradation have tended to fail, and to think through new political and environmental interventions that might succeed. The course readings are drawn from both environmental science and anthropology, and one of the tasks of the course is to introduce students to anthropology through the multiple ways in which the discipline has dealt with knowledge produced in the natural sciences. By putting environmental science in conversation with anthropology, we will also think through ways to reconcile the disciplines in political practice. Conference. Not offered 2019–20.

Language, Culture, Power
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in linguistic anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Language permeates our lives, identities, and relationships, yet most of us take it for granted. This course introduces students to some of the foundational concepts, methods, and issues addressed in linguistic anthropology. Starting with the basic premise that language, thought, and culture are inextricably intertwined in practice, we take a fundamentally comparative and global perspective on the study of language. We will consider language not as a simple means of communication, but as a medium through which values, subjectivities, and sociopolitical relationships are created and transformed. We ask: How do differences in language affect how we think and act? How do people do things with language, and how does this vary across cultures, times, and places? How does linguistic communication interact with nonverbal or embodied forms of communication? What ideologies of language shape our understandings of difference and hierarchy? In exploring answers to these questions, we will draw on media resources, natural language examples, and recent ethnographic analyses from around the world to consider the ways in which language is implicated in power struggles within specific domains of social relationships (race, class, gender, sexuality) and institutions (education, medicine, law, immigration, electoral politics). No prerequisite. Conference. Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

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.

Music 305 Description

Anthropology 318 - Secrets and Lies: The Anthropology of Deception and Transparency

Full course for one semester. Drawing on a broad and varied collection of texts, this course asks how and why the goal of increased transparency always seems to elude our grasp. In addition to considering the social productivity of efforts to conceal and reveal across a range of ethnographic contexts, we will interrogate the place of secrecy and revelation in the production of anthropological knowledge and of anthropology as a discipline. The first half of the course examines the microdynamics of transparency and concealment through a mixture of classic and contemporary works focused on sincerity, ambiguity, and silence. What motivates the production of transparency, and what makes it successful? When might concealment be desirable in social relations? We will examine how different actors work to manage ambiguity within their most intimate relations, exploring, for example, how terminally ill children work to present themselves as ignorant of the implication of their diagnoses to their adult caregivers. A methodological interlude provides an opportunity to examine the problem of transparency vis-à-vis the contemporary practice of ethnographic research. The second half draws broadly on critiques of capital and the state to examine deception and transparency in light of some of anthropology’s most persistent objects of analysis, including bureaucracy, state violence, witchcraft, the experience of history, and mass mediation. By directing analytic attention to the way secrecy and transparency interpellate one another, the course challenges students to reconsider power, intimacy, and violence, as well as the limits of anthropological knowledge production. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 320 - Social Movements, Protests, and Historical Change in South Asia

Full course for one semester. The Arab uprisings, the Black Lives Matter movement, the ongoing student movement in India, and the rise of far-right movements in the United States and elsewhere have given a new urgency to an examination of the tactics and possibilities of mass movements and protests: How and why do large groups of people come together to protest? When and how do some people and issues become political, and when and how do they not? How and when are these movements successful in achieving their aims? What social, cultural, and political effects do they have beyond their explicit aims? How, finally, do these movements interact with existing state and legal structures, whether antagonistically or through participation and engagement? By examining South Asian social movements with a focus on India, this conference analyzes current and historical attempts to reconfigure the relationships between people, laws, and states. In the process, the conference engages with challenges facing anthropology in theorizing historical change and in finding methodologies suited to large- and multi-scaled social processes. South Asia, with its vast scale and its complex and constantly shifting political landscape, is both an ideal and an important site for these inquiries. This conference also serves as an introduction to the anthropology of South Asia. It begins with a historical and theoretical consideration of the play of domination and hegemony in the colonial period, moves to a study of nationalist movements in India and Bangladesh, and then draws on the theoretical frameworks studied in the beginning of the semester to consider a range of contemporary social movements, including the Indian Maoist uprising, Dalit and anticaste movements, and the Sri Lankan Civil War. This course asks what an anthropological approach to the specific and local can bring to the study of politics, and what a study of large-scale movements can bring to anthropological understandings of historical change. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 324 - Sport and Society

Full course for one semester. Sports are deeply entangled with and imbricated in social processes, cultural institutions, and everyday life across much of the globe. The course approaches sports play as a set of embodied practices and performances, as a primary site for the reproduction and innovation of fundamental categories of gender/sex/sexuality, class, race/ethnicity, and nationality. Through case studies of situated sporting practices (notably football/soccer, cricket/baseball, basketball, bodybuilding, boxing, capoeira, skateboarding, and parkour), we will examine how colonial legacies are literally embodied in contemporary forms of urban space, nationalism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Full course for one semester. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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 201 or 211. Conference.

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 201 or 211. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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 201 or 211. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 345 - Black Queer Diaspora

Full course for one semester. This course examines the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender people across the black diaspora. The history of the transatlantic slave trade, European colonialisms, and their ongoing aftermaths have created both interlinked and locally variant cultures and lifeways across the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Black queer studies queries the creativity and variety with which black people have been shaped by and continuously reshape these histories, undermining presupposed norms of race, gender, and sexuality. This course looks at ethnographic explorations of these particulars, differences, and commonalities as documented in texts, images, and sounds across multiple disciplines. We interrogate how conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality shift across time and space and as lived by black social actors who both participate in and defy colonial and nationalist projects. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 357 - Comparative Fascisms

Full course for one semester. This course attempts to provincialize the category of fascism, using it to analyze moments both historically and geographically distant from mid-twentieth-century Europe. We will begin with a set of historical apologetics and critiques from European fascists, American white supremacists, intellectuals associated with European imperialism, and right-wing nationalist intellectuals from across the globe, alongside their contemporary critics. Drawing upon the analyses we build of ideologies, tactics, and historical conditions of the various political projects, we spend the second unit of the course reading ethnographic accounts of contemporary fascist and right-wing movements from India, Europe, and the United States. We end the semester with readings from contemporary antifascist movements, comparing their analyses with those that have emerged from our readings. Prerequisites: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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 201 or 211, or consent of the 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 201 or 211, or consent of instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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 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 readings, films, discussions, and lectures, we will explore the diversity of Tibetan and Han Chinese family organization, gender ideologies, and ethnic identities just prior to, 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 impact of state policies on men and women in the context of rapid economic reform and globalization in the PRC. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

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 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

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 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

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 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 375 - Anthropology of Science

Full course for one semester. This course examines scientific practices and knowledge as cultural, social, and political phenomena. Scientific knowledge often appears to be none of these things, and so central questions of the course are how such knowledge is produced and how it is able to transcend its context. The course begins with a set of orienting texts from Kuhn, Foucault, and Latour before turning to ethnographic and historical work on science and expertise, with an emphasis on feminist and postcolonial approaches. Along the way, we ask how the questions and methods drawn from the study of science can reshape larger anthropological understandings of the political and the social. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 377 - Labor, Value, and Land in India

Full course for one semester. This course examines the practices and politics through which people in India have reworked their landscape and their relations with one another. Drawing on anthropological analyses of labor and value, we look at the environment through questions of who owns and sells what, how it comes to be valued, and who works for whom. We will examine changing agrarian environments and those who cultivate them, resources such as coal and water and those who collect them, waste and those who sell it, and forests and those who protect them. We ask how shifting regimes of labor and value have shaped urban, agrarian, and forest ecologies in India and what an attention to the environment brings to understandings of the country’s political economy. Prerequisites: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 378 - Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism

Full course for one semester. This course examines canonical and contemporary anthropological treatments of the concept of nature and human relations with the natural environment. We discuss how conceptions of nature are always shaped, transformed, and produced by social relations. Course materials focus primarily on ethnographies oriented towards the intersections of political ecology, science studies, and postcolonial theory. Course topics include the history of the Western nature-culture opposition and its critics, as well as recent scholarship on such topics as food studies, the social life of forests, human-animal interactions, race and the genome, and the supposed advent of the “posthuman.” Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 379 - Critical Interventions in American Indian Studies

Full course for one semester. The course begins with a critical examination of the origins of American Indian/Native American studies. After situating the field we will engage with leading tribal scholars addressing contemporary topics such as representation and identity, queer indigeneity, social and political activism, decolonization movements, tribal justice systems, and tribal sovereignties. Note: this course is not an encyclopedic and/or historical/archaeological overview of native North America. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

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 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 387 - African Bodies: Medicine, Labor, Modernity

Full course for one semester. This seminar uses historical and ethnographic analyses of bodies and the politics of health, healing, and embodiment to explore central issues in the anthropology of sub-Saharan Africa. Our focus is on central, eastern, and southern Africa. Topics we will examine include Africans’ responses to colonialism, missionization, and incorporation into regimes of industrial labor and mass consumption; debates over “modernity” in colonial and postcolonial contexts; the impact of colonialism on forms and experiences of intimacy, affliction, and kinship; and recent tensions around efforts to situate “global health” in Africa. We will analyze the historical forms of affliction and its amelioration in Africa, as well as the place of history and the historical imagination in experiences of and claims to suffering and healing. As we engage with arguments about African bodies as the objects of moral and political contests over the longue durée, students will acquire a familiarity with key questions, texts, and arguments within African history and anthropology. Students are encouraged to explore the recommended works of African fiction that complement and complicate the historical and ethnographic accounts provided by course texts. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 391 - Legal Anthropology

Full course for one semester. The course examines the concept of legality as a social institution and a prominent feature of popular culture. Beginning with the emergence of legal anthropology and its history within the larger discipline, the course will focus on the relationships human actors have with the law as both an embedded social institution, and a disembodied set of authoritative doctrines. The course will orient students to productive ways of studying law and legality anthropologically. Topical areas will include Rule of Law, crime and punishment, sovereignty, alternative legal institutions, colonial and postcoloniality, environmental law, and transnationality. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 394 - Language Attrition and Endangerment

Full course for one semester. Language is one of the most salient and identifiable aspects of human culture. Human languages provide rich material for anthropological study as wells of deep knowledge through which we understand our identities, presents, and futures. Throughout the world many language communities are facing issues of language attrition and endangerment. This course provides an introduction to the practical and theoretical causes of language shift and the implications for impacted communities. Contemporary debates about the state of the field, methodological strategies for language documentation, and education and revitalization tactics will also be covered. Selected case studies provide a global perspective on the discourse of language endangerment and show the diversity of community initiatives. The role of language in constructing and maintaining cultural identity and historical continuity is a common theme in this course. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 395 - Globalization

Full course for one semester. 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 201 or 211. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 397 - Media Persons Publics

Full course for one semester. The meteoric rise of new forms of digital data and social media in the past 20 years has generated, on the one hand, fantasies of utopic intimacy (the immediacy promised in a new “global village”), and on the other, moral panics about unprecedented estrangement (the hypermediation of virtual worlds and corporate or government “big data”). In this course, we challenge this dichotomy of intimacy/immediacy versus estrangement/mediation by taking an anthropological approach to the question of human communication. Drawing on interdisciplinary debates in philosophy, linguistic anthropology, and media studies, we develop tools for understanding all communication as both mediated and material, grounded in embodied practices and technological infrastructures and situated in historical events. This in turn will allow us to grasp how circulations of media forms and commodities participate in the creation of types of persons and publics across multiple scales of time and space. Bringing those theoretical and methodological debates into dialogue with ethnographic studies and other forms of media, we ask: How do people sense and interpret themselves, others, and their worlds? What is the boundary between the human and nonhuman in a digital age? What roles do states or transregional capitalisms play in the mediation of valued and devalued persons and publics? What are the possibilities for communication amidst great gaps in access to valued forms of media? Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 398 - Race and Migration

Full course for one semester. Using the lens of critical race studies, this course explores the major ways in which anthropologists and critics have approached the immigrant experience. Comparing the immigrant contexts of North America, Europe, and Australia, the course considers both the politico-economic effects of and ideological contests over immigration. 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 the national imagination through their racialized bodies. In this respect, the course uses the migrant experience to explore broader issues surrounding racial boundaries of contemporary citizenship and contemporary debates over multiculturalism in immigrant societies. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 398.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 405 - Semiotic Anthropology

Full course for one semester. This course engages students with central concepts and approaches of semiotic anthropology. In our efforts to apprehend the cultural meaningfulness of language as a form of social action, we will consider the impact that theories of the sign have had on social and cultural theory. The goal is for students to gain a theoretical and methodological toolkit for understanding the fundamental role of semiotic processes in sociocultural life. In examining language as denotational code and a system of signs, we will explore linguistic ideology, agency, pragmatics and metapragmatics, and dynamics of language change (synchrony and diachrony). The readings include the classic texts of Peirce, Saussure, Boas, Sapir, Bakhtin, Voloshinov, Jakobson, Austin, Searle, Bourdieu, Labov, and M. Silverstein, among others. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 411 - Performance and Performativity

Full course for one semester. This course is an advanced seminar in linguistic anthropology. 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 2019–20.

Anthropology 413 - Protean Sovereignties

Full course for one semester. The course examines “sovereignties,” paying particular attention to the shifting conceptions attached to the term from early modernity to contemporary times. Drawing upon a wide range of literature on the topic, we will situate the discussion within anthropology as deeply intersubjective juridical, political, and social phenomena. A critical discussion of “sovereignties” will help us better understand related sociocultural phenomena such as nationhood and nationalisms, bureaucratization, power, and hegemony. We will begin with early authors and follow a historical trajectory, which we will use to critically examine moments of sovereign enactment occurring throughout recent history. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 425 - Marx from the South

Full course for one semester. This course engages with a long history of Marx and political economic thought in relation to the global South. The course is organized around key concepts, such as labor, value, capital, property, and class. We examine these concepts through readings of foundational texts in political economy including Marx, Locke, and Smith and the historical context of empire in which these texts were written. Alongside this historical context, we examine these concepts as they have been drawn upon analytically by anthropologists working on and politically by social movements working in the global South. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 442 - Ontological Politics

Full course for one semester. This course offers a critical examination of anthropology’s recent “ontological turn,” notable for the influence of such scholars as Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Challenging universalist assumptions that posit an inert and inanimate world of objects as a backdrop to human action, the study of the cultural and historical specificity of ontologies presents alternative views about the nature of what exists. Observing the things that populate, and the processes that make, the lived and known experience of anthropology’s ethnographic subjects draws attention to contrasting knowledge regimes. Consideration of alternate ontologies allows Euro-modernity’s “others” articulation of their own bases of knowledge, logics of practice, and courses of action. However, how anthropologists approach such considerations entails its own sets of political terms and stakes in knowledge production. This seminar examines anthropological debates about how to analyze and address the political tensions that arise in settings where nonmodern beings and forces are recognized and addressed by “other” political actors. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 443 - Race and Modernity

See Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 300 for full description.

Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 300 Description

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, 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.

Not offered 2019–20.

Anthropology 465 - Suffering, Narrative, and Subjectivity

Full course for one semester. “The subject living in pain, in poverty, or under conditions of violence or oppression,” Joel Robbins contends in a recent essay, “now very often stands at the center of anthropological work” (2013:448). This course examines the emergence of what Robbins calls “the suffering slot,” that is, the displacement of difference in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century anthropology as the discipline’s organizing principle, and a reorientation toward universal human vulnerability. Our concern is with how this turn has shaped both the substantive and ethical contours of anthropological investigation and ethnographic writing: What can, and ought, anthropologists know and say about the world and those who inhabit it? What can, and ought to, be the relationship between anthropologists and their objects of study? We will give particular attention to philosophical arguments that emphasize the ineffability of suffering—that is, the ways that suffering defies narrative—and the implications of these arguments for theories of subjectivity. Of particular interest is how these ideas have shaped the generic conventions that have emerged in anthropological studies of suffering, and how these conventions in turn reflect a particular moment in anthropology’s self-understanding as a discipline. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. 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.