Anthropology offers a broadly comparative framework for the study of human life and experience. The discipline is traditionally divided into the subfields of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, and archaeology. Of these, cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology are emphasized at Reed. Cultural anthropology examines the range and variability of human practices and provides frameworks for their interpretation. Its distinguishing disciplinary features are implicit or explicit comparativism and evidentiary grounding of theoretical interpretations or generalizations in firsthand ethnographic fieldwork. Earlier emphasis was on nonliterate peoples of the past and present. However, anthropological research has increasingly included studies of populations of European heritage and those of literate, complex societies.
Requirements for the Major
1. Reading and writing competence in a non-English (and nonnative) language as demonstrated by completion of two units of college-level courses including a) second-, third-, or fourth- year language courses or b) literature courses taught in that language. (This requiement cannot be fulfilled by a language placement exam).
2. A minimum of six units of anthropology coursework, including Anthropology 211, at least one area course (but preferably two), and at least one 400-level course. Transfer students should take Anthropology 211 even if they have completed substantial coursework in anthropology at another institution. Anthropology 211 is normally taken in the sophomore year and is not open to first-year students. At least five units of anthropology coursework, and as many units of HSS divisional requirements as possible, must be completed by the end of the junior year.
3. Anthropology 470.
Recommended but not required:
1. Humanities 210, 220, or 230.
2. Sociology 211.
Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology
Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.
Anthropology 307 - Power, Subjectivity, and Political Imagination
Full course for one semester. This course explores the diverse ways in which power is constituted, rationalized, and contested. What kinds of practices, languages, institutions, and symbolic formations make up the political? How have conceptions and practices of political belonging and political subjectivity varied historically and across different societies? What might be the challenges and possibilities of studying power and political subjectivities ethnographically? We will begin with a reading of classic texts in social theory and political anthropology. Then we will focus more specifically on how the modern state and citizenship, institutions traditionally the domain of political science, have been studied anthropologically. We will examine central analytic concepts, including hegemony, governmentality, ideology, and resistance and the ways in which they have been mobilized in ethnographies of the political. Finally, we will turn to a set of questions that have more recently arisen in relation to citizenship and the state, including multiculturalism, sovereignty, nationalism, and biopolitics. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 313 - Language in Society
See Linguistics 313 for description. Not offered 2010–11.
Linguistics 313 Description
Anthropology 320 - Communism and After: Ethnography of a Strange World
Full course for one semester. What enabled Czeslaw Milosz to write The Captive Mind
, where he tried to explain “how the human mind functioned in the people’s democracies,” was that the system invented by Moscow seemed “infinitely strange” to him. This course will take the “strangeness” of the social form that molded the lives of hundreds of millions in the 20th century as an occasion to make the strange familiar. Due to the general inaccessibility of Communist countries to Western anthropologists, most ethnographies covered in the course will be about postsocialism. However, we will extend the ethnographic approach to the study of the “real Communism” as it existed until 1989 by treating available sources such as film, literature, essays, and diaries as grist for the anthropological mill. This attempt to understand what Communism was and what came after it would thus mostly focus on the practices of everyday life and view phenomena of state control, ideology, public secrecy, black humor, and violent ethnicities primarily from the standpoint of the proverbial “little man." Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 321 - Hunting-Gathering Societies
Full course for one semester. Hunting-gathering peoples—those who live by foraging for "nondomesticated" plant and animal resources—are variously conceived as “living fossils” of protohominid and Paleolithic culture, exemplars of a “natural” condition of human sociality, subaltern victims of successive Neolithic, colonial, and postcolonial dominations, and masters of environmental noblility. After examining foraging in hominid evolution, the course focuses on similarities between prehistoric hunting societies and those known historically after Western Europe’s 16th-century planetary reconnaissance. Ethnographic studies focus on Australia, India, Borneo, Africa, the Pacific Northwest Coast, and the Canadian Subarctic, and attest the variousness of social designs, settlement patterns, foraging strategies, economies, and ontologies. This variousness indexes a certain failure of foraging societies to compose a definable "type" just as ambiguities accruing to the concept of "domesticated resource" problematize forager/farmer dichotomies. The course concludes with consideration of hunters’ relations with nonhunters. Nonhunting societies have subjected hunters to displacement, exploitation, and assimilation; the course examines hunters’ past and present tactics of accommodation and resistance. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 324 - Sport and Society
Full course for one semester. Sports are a central aspect of ritual form and everyday life in a large number of societies across the globe. The course approaches sports play as a fundamental practice of social formation and social reproduction. Through case studies of situated sports practices (notably football/soccer, cricket/baseball, and boxing), we will examine key issues in the anthropology of modernity: gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and stratification, violence, urban space, (post-)colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. Prerequisites: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 326 - Clothing, Fashion, and Power
Full course for one semester. How do the ways we dress reflect and shape aspects of our identities? How are these different identities performed, enacted, and subverted in different sociocultural settings? In this course we will look at clothing as more than just what people wear and produce, but rather explore how the fabric of fashion is entangled in broader processes of power and discourse. Looking at fashion and the dressed body provides a lens through which we can understand culture and its materiality. We will analyze the production and circulation of cloth and dress in colonial, postcolonial, and global contexts. Alternating between classical readings in exchange theory and ethnographic case studies, the course follows debates about clothing and fashion from colonial dissemination of the ideas and technologies to local appropriations and self-representations. A final section explores the politics of gender and performance in Muslim fashions and draws on contemporary debates of national identity and secularism. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 327 - Exception, Body, Voice: The Anthropology of Violence
Full course for one semester. This interdisciplinary course examines violence from a cross-cultural perspective sensitive to the consequences of globalization and to the idea that increasing parts of the world, including our own, are living in a state of emergency. If violence is a universal feature of human existence, its expression, its reasons, and its effects on collective life are stunningly diverse. Head-hunting, "brutal" rites of passage, ritual sacrifice—these are founding categories of anthropological knowledge that mark anthropology’s attempt to rationalize the cultural difference of the non-West. For anthropologists working today, “culture” no longer provides a sufficient account of what is at stake in the individual and collective encounter with violence. In recent years anthropology’s classic role as the standard-bearer of cultural relativism has been complicated by the fact that most of our informants are now firmly enmeshed in the modern state system, whose violence, exceptions, and freedoms are unprecedented. Similarly, globalization has brought about new and complex forms of violence that we are only now coming to grasp. In this course, we will move between outlining these broader contexts and formations and listening to the voices of victims, perpetrators, and the affected. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 331 - Museums and Reality
Full course for one semester. This course will explore how reality is constructed, particularly through museums, historically related material forms such as world fairs and department stores, and their associated linguistic practices. Two senses of "constructed" are relevant here: firstly, the course will base itself on the social science insight that reality is construed through cultural categories and discursive practices; secondly, the course will explore the specific processes through which exhibits, built environments, and concrete models are constructed (and inhabited with an awareness of their constructed nature). Two senses of "reality" are also at play here: on the one hand, museums and related genres are commonly understood as factual, as representing what actually exists; on the other hand, certain actually existing phenomena are often construed as more "real" or more "authentic" than others: as genuine historic or exotic artifacts, or as instantiating scientific or industrial principles, or in other ways connected to a realm believed to be at once generative of and obscured by our everyday experience. The course will examine how museum exhibit creators, staff, and visitors draw on and underwrite such differential attributions of authenticity. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 332 - Ethnography of the Image
Full course for one semester. The image is both a device and an experience that dominates, seduces, or liberates us. This course will investigate the role and nature of the image in the development of new subjectivities and social relations found in the world today. This course will investigate that contested sensory field we call the “image," and ways in which it has been utilized, constructed, and experienced in diverse cultural settings. We will cover a wide range of social practices that cannot exist without the influence, manipulation, and the power of the image: from healing to sorcery, from mass mediation to ideology, from war to intimacy. Students will be introduced to classical and current readings in the anthropology of sensation. There will also be several screenings of ethnographic and “fictional” material that will complement and inform weekly discussions. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor.
Anthropology 333 - The Anthropology of Melanesia
Full course for one semester. This course examines the social and cultural systems of selected Melanesian groups, with a focus on those from Papua New Guinea. The course begins with a consideration of the difficulties anthropologists have faced in their attempts to apply traditional models of social structure in the region. In the face of the weakness of traditional approaches, anthropologists have developed new models of how Melanesians construct their societies. This course looks at several of these innovative models, using ethnographic studies to illustrate how exchange practices, ritual, notions of gender, and conceptions of the body and of the person serve, in different societies, as the basis of social organization. Attention is also paid throughout the course to colonialism, social change, and the millenarian movements these have often brought in their wake. While the course focus is on Melanesia, consideration is also given to the contributions Melanesian anthropology has made to anthropological theory more generally. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 334 - Language and PoliticsSee Linguistics 334 for description. Not offered 2010–11.
Linguistics 334 Description
Anthropology 335 - Fieldwork and the Field Experience
Full course for one semester. This course is intended to provide an introduction to fieldwork by combining practical exercises in participant observation and archival research with theoretical and ethnographic writings that illuminate the field experience. Practical issues to be discussed in the shaping of classic ethnographic studies relying on participant observation include the situatedness of the researcher, relations with informants, analysis of interviews, the nature of field notes, and the writing of ethnography. Ethnographies read in conjunction with field exercises are intended to relate the difficulties of the novice in the field to the ethical and methodological issues that typically emerge in the context of fieldwork. The focus will then shift to relatively recent innovations in the discipline that attempt to either redefine the nature of the field itself, reconfigure ethnographic authority, or rethink the political and ethical stakes of fieldwork itself. The emphasis of the class, however, will be practical, and students will be expected to base their final papers on firsthand research and/or primary archival sources. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 336 - Anthropology Through Morocco
Full course for one semester. Since the 1920s, Morocco has been a repeated site for ethnographic investigation, a locus classicus for the elaboration of social theory, and a central region in what Bernard Cohn has famously termed “Anthropologyland.” This course explores the conditions underwriting such centrality, examining the history of ethnographic writing on Morocco from Arab sociogeography through European travel narratives to colonial ethnology and American anthropology. Through a close reading of key ethnographies from different time periods, students will not only achieve a nuanced understanding of the culture, social structure, religion, politics, and history of Morocco, but will also review key movements in anthropological thought: structural functionalism, structuralism, symbolic anthropology, political ecology, poststructuralism, reflexive postmodernism, and globalization. Prerequisites: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Full course for one semester. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 337 - Urban Africa
Full course for one semester. In this course, we will explore contemporary anthropological debates about African urban centers and cultural production with a special focus on the postcolonial city. African metropolitan centers have become destinations for large-scale migration, dense and diverse population centers, as well as global economic, cultural, and political intersections. In conjunction with new sources of identity such as nationality, religion, ethnicity, consumption, and migration, we will explore a wide range of cultural forms such as photography, film, and literature (studio photography in Mali, the Nigerian novel, and fashion and lifestyle blogs, as well as the Ivorian graphic novel). The course will take a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural approach to the exploration of urban society by exploring themes such as modernity, mimesis, and resistance, as well as gender and sexuality. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 338 - The African Crisis
Full course for one semester. Recent media and celebrity attention has focused on the African continent as a locus of endemic humanitarian and political emergency. This is reflected in Hollywood blockbusters such as Blood Diamond
or The Constant Gardener
as well as in Vanity Fair
’s recent "Special Africa Issue." Stereotypical representations of Africa have thus (re)entered Western popular culture. In the first part of the course, we will ask questions about these representational issues and reflect on the ways excess attention to crisis limits our analytical perspective. In the second part, students will be introduced to the history of Africa through classical anthropological texts as well as explore the role of ethnography in the making of colonial Africa. We will then turn to postcolonial Africa to critically and comparatively engage with contemporary issues facing African societies including oil and mineral extraction, extralegal economies, human rights, and transnational migration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 340 - Sub-Saharan Africa: Care and Power
Full course for one semester. In this course we will draw upon a series of classic and contemporary texts to explore the interplay of care and power as two themes central to the history and anthropology of Sub-Saharan Africa. This course will highlight the tremendous diversity of political, cultural, and historical situations that shape the experiences of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time we will also consider the commonalities that tie this vast region together. Moving out from a set of conversations on slavery, patronage, and “wealth in people” that emerged in anthropology the 1970s, we will examine the ways in which care and power have shaped the practice of politics, kinship, personhood, love, religion, colonialism, and corruption in a range of historical and ethnographic contexts. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 341 - Medical Anthropology
Full course for one semester. This course will consider the ways in which medical anthropology has historically been influenced by debates within the discipline of anthropology as well as by broader social and political movements. We will read texts from the genealogy of theory and evidence for contemporary medical anthropology, and situate them within the historic and theoretical contexts in which they emerged. Particular emphasis will be placed on the importance of viewing biomedicine as one among many cultural systems of healing. Some key issues we will explore include: concepts of health, healing and illness; the political economy of disease; the role of medicine in the state and citizenship; medicine’s role in the assignment and mediation of deviance; applied medical anthropology; medical anthropology as ambassador, translator, and adjunct for biomedicine; and contemporary global health crises, including the HIV and TB pandemics. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 344 - Sex and Gender
Full course for one semester. What is the difference between sex and gender? And why is this important in today’s world? This course introduces students to an anthropological perspective on the relationship between sex (the biological attributes by which a person is deemed “male” or “female”) and gender (the norms and ideals associating appropriate roles, behaviors, and sexualities with men or women). In order to understand the various debates and their stakes, we will read anthropological accounts of cultures in which sex and gender are construed very differently from our own and combine these with discussions of documentary and popular movies and video clips. The course will provide students with ways to understand how we come to consider and express ourselves as “men” or “women,” the social forces that constrain us to act and think as gendered persons, and the potential consequences for not conforming to those norms. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 345 - Cultures of Secrecy—The Balkan Files
Full course for one semester. This course will engage the question of secrecy as it pertains to life in former Communist cultures. The functioning of these societies (and most others around the world) was almost unimaginable without some form of secrecy. We will start by studying the workings of East European secret police, most notably those of UDBA in the former Yugoslavia. This will allow us to examine more general notions such as freedom, interrogation, public secrecy, resistance, revolution, and black humor. We will approach secrecy as a repository of power found in the spheres of politics, aesthetics, and sexuality. Our primary readings will come from memoirs, police files, and ethnographies. The students will be invited to think how these historical and contextual examples travel beyond Communism. What do they tell us about the nature of the State itself, from totalitarian systems to democratic ones? What will be the role of secrecy in 21st-century art, culture, and politics? How can we write (about) this anthropology of secrecy? Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 346 - Possession and Human Agency
Full course for one semester. Starting with the self-reflective turn that occurred in anthropology during the 1980s, identifying human agency in ethnographic subjects has become a lasting concern within the discipline as ethnographers have attempted to deconstruct differentials in voice and power that often operate to the detriment of anthropology’s frequently subaltern informants. Some of the most vexing problems in formulating human agency are those raised in possession, where, according to indigenous models, human agency is understood as displaced or eclipsed. Does possession mark a failure of agency, or is it another means through which it is exercised? Through ethnographic and theoretical material, this course will review anthropological models that have posed possession as having its roots in crises of representation, in social conflict, in phenomenological apperception, and in psychodynamic tensions. These various models will be thought through by way of anthropological approaches to other phenomena that are read as being limitations on, or instances of, human agency, such as resistance, the commodity form, fetishism, and moral and ethical restraint; this course will also attempt to identify contemporary secular analogues to possession in which human agency is imagined, by those bearing it, to be interrupted, such as accounts of psychic trauma and paranormal encounters. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 348 - Languages of the Americas
See Linguistics 348 for description.
Linguistics 348 Description
Anthropology 351 - Religious Language and Subjectivity
Full course for one semester. Through what manners are religious subjects formed; what, if anything, is particular to religious speech; and in what ways is ethnography as a form of writing and knowledge situated to elucidate the connections between these two issues? Drawing on theoretical and ethnographic works from several different world religions, this course will trace out the varying anthropological approaches to the questions of religious language and religious subjectivity, and ask what commonalities there may be between these two problematics. Among the specific issues that will be addressed, this course will cover how text, speech, rhetoric, narrative, and other semiotic systems, in combination with bodily practice, ethical exercise, the reflective monitoring of the sensorium, along with larger sociocultural forces and formations, inform the explicit and implicit understandings that constitute religious subjects. This course will also inquire as to what contingent or structural limits there may be on the project of forming religious subjectivities, and finally this course will investigate to what degree these resulting subjectivities are capable of being represented through ethnographic practice. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 355 - Anthropology of Colonialism
Full course for one semester. The course provides a historical anthropological exploration of colonialism. Drawing on case studies from Africa, Asia, and the Americas, it focuses on the colonial construction of categories of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, and how such cultural categories have been transformed or reproduced in the postcolonial present. Particular attention is paid to how processes and institutions of education, domesticity, urban planning, and census taking contribute to the production of docile subjects and the maintenance of colonial political and economic structures. Resistance, contestation, and decolonization are similarly addressed. Readings are drawn primarily from the field of anthropology. Given its focus on colonialism, the course provides students with a strong theoretical introduction to the burgeoning subfield of historical anthropology. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 361 - The Middle East: Culture and Politics
Full course for one semester. The Middle East has been the focus of increased scrutiny over the past few decades in light of U.S. economic and political interests, and yet the region's internal cultural complexity is poorly understood and often overlooked. This course provides both an anthropological overview of the region's political culture and cultural politics, as well as a critical inquiry into the very anthropo-geographic categories that have historically sustained a sense of unity in the region, including tribalism, honor and shame, religious piety, and poetic practices. In the process, the course explores larger comparative issues of colonialism, nationalism, state formation, sectarianism, urbanism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 364 - The Anthropology of Global Tibet
Full course for one semester. Since the Dalai Lama fled to exile in India in 1959, Tibet and Tibetans have garnered emblematic status in global debates on indigenous cultures and human rights. This course draws on anthropological theories of ethnicity, modernity, and globalization to understand this phenomenon in its historical and ethnographic contexts. Working with a wide range of theoretical, historical, and ethnographic writings, as well as a variety of other media such as film, popular songs, web sites, and blogs, we consider the global contexts and causes of changing meanings of Tibetanness before and after Chinese Communist intervention. We focus especially on the historical and contemporary diversity among Tibetans across the Himalayan region and into the diaspora, as well as the changing political economic conditions of Chinese-Tibetan relations. Conference. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 365 - The Anthropology of Development in Post-Mao China
Full course for one semester. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, state leaders have struggled to chart a course to a Chinese modernity that would break with the perceived humiliations of European domination in the 19th century and bring China commensurate status in a newly configured world stage of nations. Since Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms in the early 1980s, the PRC has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As such, it is poised to have major impacts globally, and especially since the PRC’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, these meteoric socioeconomic changes have complex implications for its diverse 1.2 billion people. This course draws on anthropological theories of modernity, capitalism, globalization, and development to turn a critical eye on discourses and practices of “development” in the PRC. Drawing on theoretical, historical, and ethnographic writings, as well as on other media such as government policy papers, advertising, and documentary films, we consider the contexts and contradictions of various development efforts just before, during, and after the Maoist period, focusing especially on the post-Mao era of economic reforms. The PRC thus will serve as a case study for our broader examination of theories conceptualizing the relationships between global capitalism and local realities. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 369 - Media and Popular Culture in Post-Mao China
Full course for one semester. China’s open-door policies and economic reforms since the death of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution have radically altered the state’s ability to control the mass media and popular cultural production. This course examines the implications of this process for national, ethnic, and gender identities among diverse citizens of the Chinese state on one hand, and for CCP efforts to maintain its political hegemony on the other. Through readings, film and video clips, and discussions, we will explore different genres of cultural production in contemporary China in their sociohistorical contexts and in relation to recent Marxist and feminist debates about the production, interpretation, and subversion of dominant ideologies in mass media. This perspective will shed light on the actually complex processes through which popular and elite, state, and local contexts are constructed in China, and allow us to interrogate recent assumptions about “globalization,” “Westernization,” “sinicization,” or “modernization” as inevitable homogenizing and leveling forces. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 371 - Transgression and Sacred Laughter
Full course for one semester. Subversions, resistances, deviances, and other destabilizations of social order are commonly linked with laughter and with the sacred in societies of diverse morphological kind and condition. Initial readings will focus on multidisciplinary characterizations of humor, sacredness, and assorted subversions, the latter in relation to existing theories of structural, systemic, and normative social order. The course then takes up a range of ethnographic and historical materials to explore the affinities among subversion, laughter, and sacredness; this in cases exemplifying different combinatorial pairings of the three and, especially, in cases where all three coincide. Topics include countercultures of diverse kinds (Cynic primitivism, Greenwich Village in successive phases, devalued subcultures in the Fourth World), clowns and fools, comic blasphemy, inversionary ceremonial occasions (Carnival[s], Feast of Fools, mock potlatches), and mythological “trickster” characters. Readings will be exceptionally diverse but include Bakhtin, Foucault, Kristeva, Erasmus, Hebdige, Terry Southern, Victor Turner, and James Frazer. The course concludes with critical appraisal of existing theoretical accounts of these linkages and of their imputed conservative or transformative social effects. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor.
Anthropology 372 - Indians and Northern Native Americans
Full course for one semester. The course examines the cultures of the Eskimos/Inuits, Aleuts, and North American Indians in historical perspective, placing emphasis on regional diversity. Readings focus on earlier conditions of culture, Euro-American stereotypes, language, and contemporary contexts in which ideas of “Indian” identity and culture are increasingly contested and objectified. Focus is on interpretation rather than description. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 374 - Urban Anthropology
Full course for one semester. The course provides an introduction to urban anthropology, with a particular focus on the colonial and postcolonial metropole as an exemplary site for the reciprocal influences of global and local processes. It explores how the city functions simultaneously as a locus for the negotiation of cultural diversity and for utopian ideals of rational communication. Drawing from cases throughout the “developed” and “developing” worlds, the course examines how urban culture is produced and reproduced under regimes of industrialization, colonialism, modernism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 375 - Ethnographies of Technologies
Full course for one semester. Ethnographies are classically centered on a spatially delimited group of persons, bound together by their shared ideational systems, which make human activities meaningful rather than merely instrumental. But as Boasian anthropology long noted, cultural traits don’t just bind people together into a holistic entity; they also are diffused across borders and used in different ways in different places. And cultural forms are not just ideas. All symbolic forms have to exist materially in order to have a social life. And human activities aren’t just valued for their meaningfulness; they are also experienced as means to ends. Ethnographies of technologies force us to come to grips with these three aspects of culture, too often swept under the rug. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 378 - Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism
Full course for one semester. The course examines earlier and contemporary theoretical perspectives on the relationships between sociocultural systems, human biology, and biophysical environments. Topics include the nature-culture opposition and its non-Western counterparts, the constraints of nondiscursive nature-culture, the discursive construction of nature, primitivism, sociobiology, science studies, the “posthuman terrain,” Western environmentalism as a cultural system, ecofeminism, premodern subsistence systems, the ecological noble savage, environmental religions, and Third- and Fourth-World peoples’ relations with global and local environmental movements. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 382 - The Anthropology of Ethics
Full course for one semester. In this course we will work to define and utilize a conceptual toolkit adequate to the task of investigating how people come to live as particular kinds of moral subjects, how they understand and negotiate complex ethical quandaries, and how by so doing such actors may come to participate in processes of social change. We will use a mix of theory and ethnographic case studies, many of which fall in intersections between the anthropology of ethics and the anthropology of religion, to move through a series of themes including: processes of subject formation and forms of ethical work, how ethics change over time and space, and how new “universal” moral forms including bioethics and human rights are moving around the globe. In the final weeks of the course we will turn the lens on anthropology itself, asking whether or not anthropology might become a tool for a more nuanced and engaged ethical dialogue. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 383 - Kinship
Full course for one semester. This course surveys the study of kinship in anthropology, with special attention to the contributions of this study to anthropological theories of culture and society. The cross-cultural analysis of systems of kinship is one of the most distinctive areas of inquiry in anthropology. In its heyday, kinship was defined as a universal feature of so-called primitive societies, and the basis for social structure. In recent years, as anthropologists' theoretical perspectives have changed, scholars have questioned whether the recognition of genealogical relations is necessarily universal, or whether kinship is only a function of local cultural ideas about the body, gender, and personhood. More recently, scholars have revisited kinship as a topic of study in the interest of exploring new forms of human life and experience engendered by cultural change, globalization, and new reproductive technologies. In this course, we will examine theories of kinship as social structure, theories that argue that kinship is a cultural phenomenon, and those that argue that kin relations are formed through their enactment in performance and practice. We will be guided in this survey by the question of what the study of kinship tells us about the nature of social relationships themselves. In particular, we will discuss the descent-alliance controversy, marriage systems, semantic analysis of kin terminology, the cultural critique of kinship, its feminist reinterpretation, and the recent revival of kinship studies. Prerequisite Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 384 - Gifts and Goods
Full course for one semester. This course will introduce the anthropological study of the economy through cultural theories of the gift, exchange and value. Starting with Mauss's theory of reciprocity in exchange as moral obligation, anthropological studies of economic behavior have sought to explain systems of exchange, transaction, and circulation in relation to social forces instead of individual rationality and choice. Through theoretical argument and ethnographic cases, we will investigate how anthropologists interpret economic behavior in the context of cultural norms and values. We will discuss how anthropological theory led to a theory of a “great divide” between premodern and modern societies based on incommensurate, mutually exclusive systems of value. We will explore how this perspective informed the anthropological study of economic change, development, and globalization. We will also discuss the various critiques of this theory from different perspectives. We will conclude by considering how anthropological approaches to gifts can shed light on economic activity in the modern marketplace as well. Readings include Marx, Mauss, Malinowski, Polanyi, Gregory, Gudeman, Graeber, Godelier, and Sahlins. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 385 - Materiality/Media/Religion
Full course for one semester. The anthropology of religion was for a long time characterized by an emphasis on minds that believe as opposed to the materials through which belief might be constituted. However, recent work on the anthropology of media has started to upend this distinction by focusing on the ways in which the circulations of specific material formations (bodily practices, linguistic practices, texts in various media) constitute religious communities. This class has two primary goals: to draw out the history of these oppositions in anthropological theory, and to overcome this opposition through ethnographic analyses focused on contemporary situations that collapse binaries of mind/body, language/action, and religion/politics. Topics include fetishism, sensory and embodied experience in religious life, mediatized circulations of religious discourse, and the nature of religious language. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 386 - Saving the World? Anthropologies of Development and Humanitarianism
Full course for one semester. Over the course of the second half of the 20th century, development and humanitarianism largely replaced colonialism and mission as the dominant forms of international engagement. In this course we will use conceptual tools related to modernity, representation, gift exchange, and globalization to explore the historical context and contemporary practice of these distinct, but related, modes of “world saving.” While much of the course will be spent attending to the critiques of development and humanitarianism raised by anthropologists, we will also consider writings by applied anthropologists and contemporary champions of development, humanitarianism, and human rights. In so doing we will create an opportunity for serious reflection about the practical and ethico-moral alternatives available in a world still shaped by suffering and injustice. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 389 - Anthropology of Neoliberalism
Full course for one semester. Since the early 1970s, and in an accelerated form in the aftermath of the Cold War, neoliberalism rose to global hegemony as an economic program promoting the opening and deregulation of markets, the privatization of public services, and the dismantling of the welfare state. Yet the term neoliberalism often lacks conceptual precision, referring sometimes simultaneously to an economic doctrine, a set of governmental techniques, and a particular configuration of global capitalism. This course begins with a reading of some of the conceptual and philosophical foundations of the neoliberal turn, focusing in particular on neoliberal conceptions of human nature and sociality. We will then explore the ways in which anthropologists have studied neoliberal reforms and the entanglement of their economic, social, and cultural effects. We will focus in particular on how, in the aftermath of neoliberal reforms, new logics of sociality and subjectivity are being produced that destabilize received ideas of the public and the private, the formal and the informal, and nature and culture, as well as the secular and the sacred. Readings will include ethnographies of financial markets, the privatization of urban space, the rise of occult and spiritual economies, and new forms of intimacy and desire that have been associated with the rise of neoliberalism. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 393 - Ethnography of Global Christianity(ies)
Full course for one semester. While previously marginalized due to anthropology's traditional interest in alterity and the non-West, recently Christianity has become an object of ethnographic interest. This emerging interest is grounded in the theoretical problems Christianity poses as an anthropological topic, as well as in Christianity's rapid growth as a domestic and global social and political force. Informed by this trend, this course will survey recent ethnographic work in the emerging field of the anthropology of Christianity, covering ethnographic material from Africa, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas (including the United States). Among the topics the course will address are Christian language ideologies; the role of gifts, exchange, and global capitalism in Christian practice and imagination; the various modes of forming Christian subjectivities; the creation and regulation of proper and improper sexualities; the role of colonialism and postcolonialism in Christianity; and Christian incorporation, reconfiguration, and redeployment of local folk ontotheological categories. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 395 - Globalization
Full course for one semester. The notion of globalization, as a descriptive term for the spatial stretching of lines of economic production, has become overloaded with multiple and competing associations in the popular imagination. Academic debates in the social sciences during the 1990s were concerned with whether globalization was new or not, and how to define it. Today, social scientific inquiry has evolved to develop new methods and concepts to critique, analyze, and theorize the various phenomena associated with globalization. Starting with a brief introduction of popular discourses on globalization, we will begin to explore the ways in which sociology, anthropology, and geography conceptualize and characterize globalization. Through these theories we will develop a vocabulary with which to think about capitalism and its interconnections with globalization’s cultural dimensions. In the second section of the course we will examine the content and form of gender, racial, and economic inequalities in the context of globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 398 - Race and Migration
Full course for one semester. This course explores the major ways in which social scientists have interpreted migration. Readings are taken from anthropology, political science, sociology, demography, and history. Most readings concern recent migration to the United States. We consider the politico-economic and ideological contexts of migration as well the experience of migration and the relationships that people maintain to the multiple sites in which they have lived. We also particularly consider identity formation and the ways in which migrants are influenced by the racial, ethnic, class, and gender formations of the multiple societies in which they live. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 402 - Semiotics and Structuralism
Full course for one semester. The course begins by examining Peirce’s semiotic and Saussure’s structural linguistics, thereafter taking up the theoretical influences of these on the anthropologies and linguistic anthropologies that came after: the French structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roman Jakobson’s linguistic poetic, the structural histories and agencies of Marshall Sahlins, the pragmatics (and metapragmatics and ethno-metapragmatics) of Michael Silverstein, the ethnopoetics of Dell Hymes, and the (notional) poststructuralism of Michel Foucault. The course addresses the relations that signs and symbols contract with each other, with their meanings, and with their contexts. The course addresses the contemporary status of ideas of cultural and linguistic “structure,” both overt and covert, in the light of assorted “antistructuralist” turns in recent social theory. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or Linguistics 311. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 411 - Performance and Performativity
Full course for one semester. Anthropologists have long been interested in the complex dynamism of social life. Yet early attempts to account for this dynamism in the construction of cultural and linguistic worlds were obscured in favor of static representations of “cultures” and dualistic understandings of sociocultural structures versus individual actions or intentions. This course considers “performance” and “performativity” to be recent rubrics that group together a wide variety of social theorists who have focused instead on the emergent and contested nature of all meanings as they are communicated in everyday and ritualized speech and practice. The course will develop from key foundational texts in the philosophy of language to more recent theoretical and ethnographic work to explore the implications of this perspective for understanding language as social action, the nature of “context” and interpretive politics, the relationships between formal events or performances and everyday life, and the social construction of selves and others. By directing analytic focus to the indeterminacy, ambiguity, and multiplicity inherent to social life, the course challenges students to reconsider some of the central issues in anthropological theory, such as agency, identity, power, and resistance. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Cross-listed as Linguistics 411. Conference.
Anthropology 414 - Person, Self, and Subject
Full course for one semester. What is the history of the categories of person, self, and subject in the West? What shape have analogous classifications taken in other social and cultural milieus, how have these objects been theorized by anthropologists and other social thinkers, and to what degree (if any) can we take these indigenous Western schemes as having a referent apart from that which is created by their use as cultural constructs? Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 426 - Marx and Marxian Anthropologies
Full course for one semester. The social scientific theories of Karl Marx have proven to be a historical touchstone and intellectual prop for much social thought since World War II. This course will examine this legacy and its productivity for innovations within contemporary anthropology. The first part of the course will approach Marx as an anthropologist of capitalism and of precapitalist modes of production through a close reading of some of his key analytical texts. The second part will explore particular directions in anthropological theorizing inspired by Marx and his intellectual heirs (Plekhanov, Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, Sartre, Lefebvre, Althusser, Derrida, Deleuze). These will include neoevolutionism, cultural materialism, structural Marxism, mode of production theory, political economy, world systems theory, and existential anthropology. Prerequisites: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 440 - Translation and Boundaries of Difference
Full course for one semester. The metaphor of translation has been used—in positive and negative senses—to describe anthropology’s goals for many years. Even if many anthropologists have given up on a model of culture-as-text that requires translation for outsiders, negotiating problems of difference still remains. How do ethnographers confront spatial, social, linguistic, disciplinary, and temporal dislocations? How do social actors negotiate these differences? What kinds of social and ideological formations control the flow of discourses across boundaries? This course examines theories of translation from a number of different disciplines, including literary studies, linguistics, linguistic anthropology, postcolonial studies, and anthropology itself, in which authors have had to grapple with the ethical, methodological, and practical dilemmas of transposition. The goal of the course is to examine translation as a pragmatic process in which indexical formations anchor discourses as they move across boundaries, looking at how those boundaries are made, contested, and reformed through time. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Anthropology 460 - After Structuralism
Full course for one semester. Contemporary issues and debates in cultural anthropology. Topics include practice theory, poststructuralism, reflexivism, political economy, power and resistance, globalization and late capitalism, gender studies, postcolonial criticism and alternative modernities, cultural objectifications and "invented traditions," strategic essentialism, the "new culturalism," and cultural diacritics of collective identity. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 and one additional anthropology course or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
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.