Anthropology Department

Courses

For potential majors, and those seeking to use courses in anthropology for HSS division requirements, "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 200-level courses are geared toward first years and sophomores and 300-level courses are usually for juniors and seniors, although sophomores with adequate preparation are welcome. The 400-level courses are advanced courses; they are geared toward solidly prepared juniors and seniors. Area courses explore anthropological issues and topics in a particular region or set of linked places in the world (any area course should have a place name in the title of the course).

Anthropology 201 - Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

One-unit semester course. Conference. May be repeated for credit.

Anthropology of Global Health
One-unit semester course. 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. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. No prerequisite. Conference. Not offered 2022–23. 

Bodies, Spaces, Subjectivities
One-unit semester course. 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. No prerequisite. Conference. Not offered 2022–23.

Decolonizing Archaeology
One-unit semester course. This course is designed to expand students’ notions about just what archaeologists do and what questions archaeology can answer. Through a review of archaeology’s history, goals, theories, and methods, we will explore the ways in which archaeology is practiced, focusing in particular on the questions and techniques that shape our knowledge of the human past. In addition to dispelling misconceptions about archaeologists studying dinosaurs or ancient aliens, this course will be candid and critical of the colonial and imperialist histories of archaeology while also highlighting the positive ways in which it has been practiced. We will examine how it is that archaeologists develop ideas about the past through its material remains and the relevance of their research in the present. We will pay particular attention to the challenges and ethical dilemmas that come from collecting, studying, and displaying the material remains of ancient cultures, especially those with descendant communities in the present who have historically been marginalized by archaeology. Thinking about how archaeologists can build relationships and partner with contemporary communities will be a core component of this course. While this course is not meant to be a survey of world history, we will explore the history of archaeology through references to studies from all over the world that investigate periods ranging from prehistory to the present. Students will be encouraged to develop and pursue interests in any regions, time periods, and topics they feel drawn to and will be given frequent opportunities to explore these further through various assignments. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. No prerequisite. Conference.

Global Political Ecology
One-unit semester course. 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. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. No prerequisite. Conference.

Language, Culture, Power - Website
One-unit semester course. 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). This course applies to the department’s linguistic anthropology concentration. No prerequisite. Conference. Not offered 2022–23.

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

One-unit semester course. 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 300 - African Technoscience

One-unit semester course. In the global North, Africans frequently appear as the beneficiaries and consumers of global flows of science and technology or, conversely, science and technology’s misusers and refusers. Rarely do they figure as its authors, producers, or animators. This course interrogates the conditions of possibility for African technoscience. What do the key themes of the anthropology of science—the politics of knowledge production, naturalizations as a site of investigation, the role of the state in shaping scientific infrastructures—look like when viewed from the African continent? What is at stake in claiming a particularly African logic, or in insisting on the rationality of witchcraft? Foregrounding the work of African anthropologists and historians, this course will examine Africans’ participation in and contestation of science as a practice of knowledge production, as a technique of colonial governance, as a site of anticolonial resistance, as a tool of postcolonial nation building, and as a potential instrument of decolonization. Drawn from across sub-Saharan Africa, our readings will analyze knowledge production practices such as molecular biology, geology, mathematics, and anthropology while also grappling with how the boundaries of these practices have emerged and the people, objects, and forms of knowledge that exceed those boundaries. This course meets the department’s area requirement and applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisites: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 390.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 305 - Musical Ethnography

See Music 305 for description.

Music 305 Description

Anthropology 306 - #CentralAmericanTwitter: Continuity and Rupture in Central American Indigenous Histories

One-unit semester course. Of the 250,000 Guatemalan migrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border between 2018 and 2019, many Americans may be surprised to learn that at least half are Indigenous, often with little fluency in Spanish and with a distinct cultural background. Understanding the forces driving this modern-day migration, and its effects on these Indigenous migrants, requires a historically situated understanding of Central American Indigeneity itself and its unique legacy within countries like Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. This course provides that historical background, beginning with the archaeology and ancient history of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and continuing through the conquest of the Americas to the present day. By focusing on topics such as Indigenous culture, social inequality, and religion, we will track historical currents through time and discuss what effect they continue to have today. From this framing, we will use a multimedia approach that includes films, excerpts of novels, ethnographies, photographs, and social media to access firsthand accounts of the topics discussed in class. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 396.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 307 - “One Good Turkey Hen is Worth 100 Cacao Beans”: An Introduction to Economic Anthropology

One-unit semester course. What does it mean to be in debt? What is the difference between exchange and barter? Why do things have prices? What are gifts? What is value? These are questions that are fundamental to economics, yet their answers vary significantly between different cultures and time periods. In this course, we examine these questions through the lens of economic anthropology and adopt a holistic framework that considers the diversity of preferences, behaviors, and activities that relate to how people meet their basic (or not) human needs. We will consider behaviors like production, consumption, and exchange from a cross-cultural perspective that shows alternative practices and understandings that confront conventional arguments about human economic behavior. To do so, we will learn about the principles and history of economic anthropology and consider how we might study the economic practices of people today and in the past. What kind of material evidence do we look at? How do we know what was valued in the past? Through a combination of ethnographic texts, museum collections, and archaeological reports, we will consider these questions and call into question the assumed logics and structures of our current economic system. Students will be encouraged to develop and pursue interests in any regions, time periods, and topics they feel drawn to and will be given frequent opportunities to explore these further through various assignments. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 308 - Obsidian Rocks! A Natural and Social History

One-unit semester course. Today, most people have little if any relationship to the dark, black, brittle volcanic glass we know as obsidian. But from early Neolithic farmers trading throughout the Mediterranean, to Maya priests conducting ritual sacrifices, to Polynesian explorers sailing across the Pacific, obsidian can tell us about the daily lives, practices, technologies, and relationships of ancient peoples. For much of human antiquity, obsidian was prized not only for its sharpness, but also for its distinct physical properties. Its translucency, color, and shimmer have made an aesthetically pleasing material as well, with obsidian used as often for elaborate figurines, mirrors, and weapons as used for tools. Moreover, the volcanic conditions necessary to create obsidian make it a scarce resource in many regions of the world, and therefore traded for over great distances. The various uses and cultural connotations of obsidian persist up to the present day, whether in its use in jewelry, in surgical tools, or in popular media (as dragonglass in Game of Thrones). This course examines the history of this unique material, its many uses, its cultural and symbolic meanings, and the ways in which archaeologists study it today. In investigating the natural and social history of obsidian, this course will not only draw on scientific articles and archaeological reports, but also include hands-on tutorials in obsidian knapping, chemical sourcing, artifact illustration, and quantitative and qualitative lithic analyses. By analyzing obsidian firsthand, students will learn the diversity of approaches that archaeologists employ to understand the use, function, history, and meaning of ancient materials. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

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

One-unit semester course. 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. 

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 324 - Sport and Society

One-unit semester course. 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 2022–23.

Anthropology 332 - Mesoamerican Archaeology

One-unit semester course. This course serves as an introduction to the field of Mesoamerican studies, focusing on the peoples and cultures of this region that includes modern-day Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. We will explore the development of the great Olmec civilization of the Gulf Coast, the city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico, the Maya civilization in Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Aztec Empire of central Mexico. Through studying these sites and cultures, we will investigate the political organization, economy, and belief systems of these ancient people through their material culture, architecture, and texts. We will also explore the ways in which archaeology is practiced in this region, focusing in particular on the questions and techniques that have shaped our knowledge of these ancient civilizations, while also being mindful and critical of the colonial and imperialist histories of archaeology. Though this course will primarily focus on Mesoamerica’s pre-Columbian history, this course will also include frequent readings from colonial documents and modern-day ethnographies to explore how this ancient past remains relevant and impactful in the present. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Lecture-conference.

Anthropology 341 - Medical Anthropology

One-unit semester course. 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. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 342 - Language and Medicine

One-unit semester course. This course examines the intersection of language with practices of health and healing in anthropological analyses. While medical anthropologists have long pointed to healing as a cultural practice, they have given less attention to its linguistic dimensions. Within anthropological analyses, moreover, language as a tool of healing is consigned to biomedicine’s suspect others (e.g., traditional healing, ritual) and to the treatment of what biomedicine frames as ephemeral phenomena (minds, emotions, selves, subjectivities) relative to the body’s seeming concrete reality. This course will take a cross-cultural approach to healing, asking how linguistic anthropology can contribute to analyses of affliction broadly construed. We will also look at the history of the subdisciplinary division of labor that has made language and biomedicine seem incompatible as objects of anthropological analysis. This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 343 - African Pasts, African Futures

One-unit semester course. This course examines the ways Africans engage the past and imagine the future. How do the slave trade, colonial rule, anticolonial resistance, the development initiatives of the Cold War era, and lingering promises of modernity figure in Africans’ perceptions, experiences, and visions of the world? The first goal of the course is to attend to the conditions of possibility that make African pasts and futures thinkable and inhabitable. We will examine the conceptions of time that have shaped Africans’ lived experiences of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, giving close attention to the material and symbolic structures these conceptions have reflected and reinforced. Our second goal is to interrogate Africa as a site of knowledge production. What would it mean to decolonize African studies, or to center Africa in planetary accounts? Drawn from across sub-Saharan Africa, our readings foreground the work of African scholars and engage themes such as the significance of “custom” and “tradition,” transformations in intergenerational relations, the ethics and politics of remembering and forgetting, the built environment as a site of memory and resistance, and the place of Africa in the world. Topics may include the politics of race and ethnicity, the appropriation of African knowledge in the colonial encounter, the consequences of colonial and postcolonial development projects, and efforts to decolonize higher education. The syllabus pairs works of empirical research with suggested contemporary African novels. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 392.

Anthropology 344 - The Anthropology of Sex and Gender

One-unit semester course. What are the differences between sex, gender, and sexuality? And why is this important in today’s world? This course introduces students to an anthropological perspective on the relationships among sex, the biological attributes by which a person is deemed “male” or “female”; gender, the norms, ideals, and practices defining what it means to become “men,” “women,” or nonbinary persons; and sexuality, ideas and practices related to erotic desire and sexual reproduction. In order to understand the various debates and their stakes, we will read anthropological accounts of communities in which sex, gender and sexuality 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,” “women,” or someone other to those categories; the social and cultural processes that shape us to act and think as particular kinds of sexed, gendered, and sexualized persons, including the complexities and dilemmas posed by intersecting subjectivities (e.g., race, class, ethnicity, religion); and the potential consequences for not conforming to those norms. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 345 - Black Queer Diaspora

One-unit semester course. This course examines ethnographies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people across the Black diaspora. The history of colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and their ongoing aftermaths have created both interlinked and locally variant lifeways across the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Black queer studies queries the creativity and variation with which Black people have been shaped by and continuously reshape these histories, undermining presupposed norms of race, gender, and sexuality. We will look 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 395.

Anthropology 347 - Outbreak, Emergency, Pandemic: Anthropology of Health Systems

One-unit semester course. In the past few decades, infectious diseases such as HIV, Ebola, and COVID-19 have illuminated the urgency of health systems research. These mass infections have also highlighted the strengths and weakness of different health systems, while also illustrating just how complex and unwieldy public health interventions can be. Even in supposedly “developed” or “wealthy” countries, public health interventions in mass infections can exacerbate existing inequalities along lines of race, class, and gender, sharpen political antagonisms, prop up cronyism, erode existing health services by redirecting resources in ways that negatively impact public health in the process, and radically transform how individuals and groups regard themselves and others. Ethnographic research provides a critical vantage point for thinking about what health policy and health systems do and what they mean beyond their stated intentions and actions. Focusing on epidemics past, present, and future, this class will pose the following questions: What can ethnographic research illuminate about health systems, particularly health systems under immense strain? What do strategies implemented to respond to mass infections tell us about how public health policymakers view the world, and the historical and political contexts that give rise to these visions? In what ways must ethnographers modify their research methodologies to respond to outbreaks of infectious disease? We will also explore different ways anthropologists engage with health policy making and health systems reform, and critically examine the ramifications of these engagements. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 351 - Postcolonial Europe

One-unit semester course. The liberal democratic model in Europe appears to be very much in question. On the one hand, public debates over national identity and the electoral success of neonationalist populist parties challenge cosmopolitan visions and threaten to reinvigorate intra-EU cultural borders. On the other hand, European people of color have increasingly adapted Anglo-American identity politics into local social movements which call for a reckoning with and reparations for Europe’s history of colonial violence and enslavement. While postcolonial studies have largely addressed the legacies of such violence in the former colonial periphery, recent scholarship has emphasized the immanently postcolonial character of the contemporary European metropole as well. The course explores these dynamics through a set of critical and comparative ethnographies of Europe’s multicultural, multiracial, and multireligious situation. Attention will be paid to categories of Blackness and Islam as they emerge within challenges to liberal secularism, as well as to intersectionalities of gender, sexuality, and class within such ethno-racial and religious politics. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 357 - Comparative Fascisms

One-unit semester course. 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.

Anthropology 360 - Country and City in Latin America

One-unit semester course. 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement, and applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 361 - The Middle East: Culture and Politics

One-unit semester course. 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 362 - Gender and Ethnicity in China and Tibet

One-unit semester course. 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 363 - Race and Transnational China

One-unit semester course. Debates about forms of perceived or imagined social difference have a long history among people who identify as Chinese, including negotiations of diasporic relations with a Chinese homeland, now claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Those debates took on new urgency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for Chinese intellectuals faced with the threat of Western colonialism, the imperative to establish a sovereign nation-state, and the concomitant rise of Western modernity discourses that were grounded in notions of essential biological differences hierarchizing human “races.” Yet since the emergence of the PRC as global power in the 2010s and President Xi Jinping’s effort to extend Chinese infrastructure development and investment programs to over 70 countries worldwide, transnational China has seen reintensified debates about social difference and the meaning of Chineseness, as well as the rise of new mass-mediated Han Chinese nationalisms. In this course we engage multimedia sources (texts, videos, images) to explore these most recent debates in historical context. We do this as a way to dialogue with critical race theory, and to delve into the high-stakes interpretive politics of “race” and “racism” transnationally. As many Chinese scholars and netizens ask: are these English language terms even applicable in the very different cultural, historical, and political economic contexts of transnational China? We start with comparative theoretical debates about the nature of “race” as historically situated perceptions and claims about biological/embodied difference. We then turn to debates in recent Chinese contexts to consider for example the relationship between discourses of “race” and “nation,” the nature of “Han-ness,” the status of “ethnic minorities,” and the status of “Blackness” amidst increased Sino-African engagement. Our goal will be to expand our understandings of the stakes and contexts of cosmologies and ontologies of social difference and inequality transnationally. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 393.

Anthropology 364 - The Anthropology of Global Tibet

One-unit semester course. 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. The widespread Tibetan unrest and subsequent military crackdown during China’s summer “Olympic year” (2007–2008) focused renewed international attention on the issue of Tibet in the face of China’s rise as an important political and economic power. Meanwhile, tightening political constraints and rapid development under president Xi Jinping have ushered in a new and complicated era for the transnational Tibetan community. Yet Tibet has long been both a cosmopolitan place and an object of translocal interest and desire. This course draws on anthropological theories of ethnicity, modernity, nationalism, space, 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, websites, and blogs from in and outside of China, we consider the transnational 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. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or 201. Conference.

Anthropology 365 - The Anthropology of Development in Post-Mao China

Website

One-unit semester course. 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 1.4 billion people, as well as for many communities abroad now impacted by the expanding reach of Chinese investment and development efforts. 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 and feature 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 among transregional capitalisms, changing forms of governance, and local communities’ experiences. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 366 - Black, Indian, and Other in Brazil

One-unit semester course. 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 397.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 374 - Urban Anthropology

One-unit semester course. 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.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 375 - Anthropology of Science

One-unit semester course. 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. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 378 - Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism

One-unit semester course. 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.” This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 379 - Critical Interventions in American Indian Studies

One-unit semester course. 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 387 - African Bodies: Medicine, Labor, Modernity

One-unit semester course. 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. This course meets the department’s area requirement and applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 391 - Legal Anthropology

One-unit semester course. 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 393 - Ethnographic Methods

One-unit semester course. This course is designed to help students develop the necessary skillset to conduct anthropological fieldwork. Throughout the course, we will address many of the current methodological and ethical quandaries of the discipline during our engagement with contemporary ethnographic work. Students will learn qualitative methods, including participant observation, interviewing, and ethnography. We will practice these skills by developing research questions, designing viable studies, and conducting original research. We will focus these practical applications to develop the students’ ability to productively and ethically record, analyze, and represent anthropological findings in writing. Students will mobilize these skills, and utilize qualitative research software, in the completion of a semester-long ethnographic project. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 395 - Globalization

One-unit semester course. 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 2022–23.

Anthropology 397 - Media Persons Publics

One-unit semester course. 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? This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 405 - Semiotic Anthropology

One-unit semester course. 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. This course applies to the department’s linguistic anthropology concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 413 - Protean Sovereignties

One-unit semester course. 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 2022–23.

Anthropology 425 - Marx from the South

One-unit semester course. 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.

Not offered 2022–23.

Anthropology 432 - Archaeological Method and Theory

One-unit semester course. This course is a survey of the aims, methodology, theory, and practice of archaeology with a focus on the key questions of contemporary archaeological research. We will begin the semester by considering the broad goals of the discipline and review the diverse kinds of data that can help address questions about the past. We will then turn towards reviewing various archaeological approaches that investigate those data, focusing on methods for 1) understanding the sediment and stratigraphy of sites, 2) the materials and artifacts found therein, and 3) the contextualization of those remains within the broader landscape. In addressing these various methods, we will explore how theoretical approaches influence the kinds of questions that are asked in archaeology and the kinds of interpretations that are made. By doing so, we will emphasize throughout the semester the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology and the broad kinds of issues and topics to which it can be applied. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Lecture-conference.

Anthropology 442 - Ontological Politics

One-unit semester course. 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. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or 201 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 461 - Theories of Practice

One-unit semester course. 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 2022–23.

Anthropology 465 - Suffering, Narrative, and Subjectivity

One-unit semester course. “The subject living in pain, in poverty, or under conditions of violence or oppression,” Joel Robbins contended a decade ago, “now very often stands at the center of anthropological work.” 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. This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 470 - Thesis

Two-unit yearlong course; one unit per semester.

Anthropology 481 - Independent Reading

Variable (one-half or one)-unit semester course. Open only to upper-class students with special permission.