Betsey Behr Brada
Medical anthropology, anthropology of global health and humanitarianism, science studies and expertise, anthropology of the body, pedagogy and ritual, HIV/AIDS, Africa.
Language revitalization, sovereignty, policing, gender theory, legal anthropology, linguistic anthropology, semiotics, Native North America. On sabbatical fall 2017.
Charlene E. Makley
Development, globalization, anthropology of capitalism, linguistic anthropology, performance and media studies, exchange and value, gender, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and ritual, China, Tibet, East Asia.
Paul A. Silverstein
Race and ethnicity, colonialism and postcoloniality, migration, urbanity, social class, sport, practice theory, historical anthropology, France, North Africa, Middle East.
LaShandra P. Sullivan
Social movements, environmental studies, land conflict, agrarian change, development, indigeneity, race, ethnicity, anthropology of space, Brazil, Latin America. On sabbatical spring 2018.
Environmental politics, law, social movements, land and property, political economy, collective action, caste, indigeneity, India, South Asia.
Anthropology offers perhaps the broadest 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, we emphasize cultural and linguistic anthropology here at Reed. Cultural and linguistic anthropology explore the astonishing range and variability of human practices past and present, paying particular attention to language, race, gender, sexuality, class, and (trans)nationalisms and providing frameworks for contextualizing and analyzing them. Research in both cultural and linguistic anthropology is distinguished by an implicit and explicit comparative lens, as well as an emphasis on empirically grounding theoretical interpretations or generalizations in firsthand, qualitative ethnographic fieldwork. Anthropology as a discipline has seen seismic changes since its inception in the late nineteenth century. While early Western anthropologists focused on indigenous peoples past and present, the discipline has expanded and diversified to include practitioners all over the world, and anthropological research now addresses the entire range of human communities, institutions, and practices.
Requirements for the Major
1. Reading and writing competence in a non-English (and nonnative) language as demonstrated by completion of two units of college-level courses including a) second-, third-, or fourth-year language courses or b) literature courses taught in that language. (This requirement cannot be fulfilled by a language placement exam.) Please note: in some cases heritage speakers may be eligible to use coursework in their heritage languages to satisfy this requirement. Please consult with your adviser and the department chair.
2. A minimum of six units of anthropology coursework, including Anthropology 211, at least one area course (but preferably two), and at least one 400-level course. Transfer students should take Anthropology 211 even if they have completed substantial coursework in anthropology at another institution. Anthropology 211 is normally taken in the sophomore year and is not open to first-year students. At least five units of anthropology coursework, and as many units of HSS divisional requirements as possible, must be completed by the end of the junior year.
3. Anthropology 470.
Recommended but not required:
1. Humanities 220, or two units from Humanities 211, 212, 231, and 232.
2. Sociology 211.
Anthropology 201 - Topics in Contemporary Anthropology
Anthropology of Global Health
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in cultural and medical anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Global health presents itself as a timely intervention that redistributes the means of physical and mental well-being to those who lack it, typically in resource-poor or underserved settings. But in what sense is global health “global” if it is driven by the agendas of specific nations and institutions? How can it command such implicit recognition as a force for good and yet seem to recapitulate the imperial agendas and perspectives of the colonial era? Rather than considering global health as obvious, coherent, and necessary, we will examine its foundations: What assumptions does global health reflect about bodies, families, history, and biomedicine itself? In what ways do global health programs build upon or distinguish themselves from colonial-era medical campaigns that tied biomedical interventions to Christianity, modernization, and the demands of industrial labor? How does global health both reflect and perpetuate transnational political and economic shifts? What are the unexpected consequences of global health programs—for the individuals who compose target populations, but also for global health professionals themselves as well as local experts? In exploring answers to these questions, we will draw on recent ethnographic analyses from around the world as well as historical studies that illuminate global health’s antecedents. Conference.
Global Political Ecology
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in cultural and medical anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Despite enormous scientific and political efforts, scientists and activists have found themselves unable to bring about the political changes that might reverse climate change and environmental degradation. The degradation of earth’s environment has been caused by humans, but somehow humans have not been able to stop or reverse the social processes that cause this degradation. This course examines case studies of environmental degradation at multiple scales, from superfund sites in Oregon to deforestation in the Amazon to global climate change, to three ends: to explore fundamental questions in social theory about the relationship between humans and the world, to understand why coordinated scientific and political efforts to prevent environmental degradation have tended to fail, and to think through new political and environmental interventions that might succeed. The course readings are drawn from both environmental science and anthropology, and one of the tasks of the course is to introduce students to anthropology through the multiple ways in which the discipline has dealt with knowledge produced in the natural sciences. By putting environmental science in conversation with anthropology, we will also think through ways to reconcile the disciplines in political practice. Conference.
Language, Culture, Power
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in cultural and medical anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Language permeates our lives, identities, and relationships, yet most of us take it for granted. This course introduces students to some of the foundational concepts, methods, and issues addressed in linguistic anthropology. Starting with the basic premise that language, thought, and culture are inextricably intertwined in practice, we take a fundamentally comparative and global perspective on the study of language. We will consider language not as a simple means of communication, but as a medium through which values, subjectivities, and sociopolitical relationships are created and transformed. We ask: How do differences in language affect how we think and act? How do people do things with language, and how does this vary across cultures, times, and places? How does linguistic communication interact with nonverbal or embodied forms of communication? What ideologies of language shape our understandings of difference and hierarchy? In exploring answers to these questions, we will draw on media resources, natural language examples, and recent ethnographic analyses from around the world to consider the ways in which language is implicated in power struggles within specific domains of social relationships (race, class, gender, sexuality) and institutions (education, medicine, law, immigration, electoral politics). No prerequisite. Conference. Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method
Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.
Anthropology 305 - Musical Ethnography
See Music 305 for description.
Anthropology 318 - Secrets and Lies: The Anthropology of Deception and Transparency
Full course for one semester. Drawing on a broad and varied collection of texts, this course asks how and why the goal of increased transparency always seems to elude our grasp. In addition to considering the social productivity of efforts to conceal and reveal across a range of ethnographic contexts, we will interrogate the place of secrecy and revelation in the production of anthropological knowledge and of anthropology as a discipline. The first half of the course examines the microdynamics of transparency and concealment through a mixture of classic and contemporary works focused on sincerity, ambiguity, and silence. What motivates the production of transparency, and what makes it successful? When might concealment be desirable in social relations? We will examine how different actors work to manage ambiguity within their most intimate relations, exploring, for example, how terminally ill children work to present themselves as ignorant of the implication of their diagnoses to their adult caregivers. A methodological interlude provides an opportunity to examine the problem of transparency vis-à-vis the contemporary practice of ethnographic research. The second half draws broadly on critiques of capital and the state to examine deception and transparency in light of some of anthropology’s most persistent objects of analysis, including bureaucracy, state violence, witchcraft, the experience of history, and mass mediation. By directing analytic attention to the way secrecy and transparency interpellate one another, the course challenges students to reconsider power, intimacy, and violence, as well as the limits of anthropological knowledge production. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 320 - Social Movements, Protests, and Historical Change in South Asia
Full course for one semester. The Arab uprisings, the Black Lives Matter movement, the ongoing student movement in India, and the rise of far-right movements in the United States and elsewhere have given a new urgency to an examination of the tactics and possibilities of mass movements and protests: How and why do large groups of people come together to protest? When and how do some people and issues become political, and when and how do they not? How and when are these movements successful in achieving their aims? What social, cultural, and political effects do they have beyond their explicit aims? How, finally, do these movements interact with existing state and legal structures, whether antagonistically or through participation and engagement? By examining South Asian social movements with a focus on India, this conference analyzes current and historical attempts to reconfigure the relationships between people, laws, and states. In the process, the conference engages with challenges facing anthropology in theorizing historical change and in finding methodologies suited to large- and multi-scaled social processes. South Asia, with its vast scale and its complex and constantly shifting political landscape, is both an ideal and an important site for these inquiries. This conference also serves as an introduction to the anthropology of South Asia. It begins with a historical and theoretical consideration of the play of domination and hegemony in the colonial period, moves to a study of nationalist movements in India and Bangladesh, and then draws on the theoretical frameworks studied in the beginning of the semester to consider a range of contemporary social movements, including the Indian Maoist uprising, Dalit and anticaste movements, and the Sri Lankan Civil War. This course asks what an anthropological approach to the specific and local can bring to the study of politics, and what a study of large-scale movements can bring to anthropological understandings of historical change. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Anthropology 324 - Sport and Society
Full course for one semester. Sports are 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. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 330 - Fictions of Africa
Full course for one semester. This course examines anthropologically a wide range of representations concerning Africa and/or authored by Africans: from the purposely fictional (folktales, novels, films), to the supposedly factual accounts of African realities (historical narratives, news reporting, ethnographies). On one hand, the course considers the cognitive constraints of memorization and narration; it attempts to pluralize the concept of truth and complicate the concept of fiction. It additionally explores the notions of myth, tradition, and imagination. On the other hand, it develops a historical and critical understanding of orientalist narratives and totalizing metanarratives. Finally, we will investigate the anthropological forms where fiction and nonfiction have historically converged (such as ethnofiction and literary anthropology). Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 336 - Anthropology through Morocco
Full course for one semester. Since the 1920s, Morocco has been a repeated site for ethnographic investigation, a locus classicus for the elaboration of social theory, and a central region in what Bernard Cohn has famously termed “Anthropologyland.” This course explores the conditions underwriting such centrality, examining the history of ethnographic writing on Morocco from Arab sociogeography through European travel narratives to colonial ethnology and American anthropology. Through a close reading of key ethnographies from different time periods, students will not only achieve a nuanced understanding of the culture, social structure, religion, politics, and history of Morocco, but will also review key movements in anthropological thought: structural functionalism, structuralism, symbolic anthropology, political ecology, poststructuralism, reflexive postmodernism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Full course for one semester. Conference.
Anthropology 341 - Medical Anthropology
Full course for one semester. This course will consider the ways in which medical anthropology has historically been influenced by debates within the discipline of anthropology as well as by broader social and political movements. Particular emphasis will be placed on the importance of viewing biomedicine as one among many cultural systems of healing. Some key issues we will explore include: concepts of health, healing and illness; the political economy of disease; the role of medicine in the state and citizenship; medicine’s role in the assignment and mediation of deviance; applied medical anthropology; medical anthropology as ambassador and translator for biomedicine; and contemporary global health crises, including the HIV and TB pandemics. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Anthropology 343 - African Temporalities
Full course for one semester. In the last decades of the twentieth century, the promise of modernity collapsed across much of sub-Saharan Africa. The end of the Cold War, falling mineral and commodity prices, and the retreat of the state under structural adjustment programs all contributed in their own ways to a sense that a future, which had been just out of reach, was no longer possible. In this course we will examine the historical antecedents to this moment and explore the multiple modes of temporal imagining, such as those presented by millenarian movements, neoliberal NGOs, and national visa lotteries, that have come to fill the space left in the wake of the mid-range future of modernity. While this course treats sub-Saharan Africa as a region, we will also question the multiple uses to which “Africa” is put in anthropological and Euro-American temporal imaginaries. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Anthropology 344 - The Anthropology of Sex and Gender
Full course for one semester. What is the difference between sex and gender? And why is this important in today’s world? This course introduces students to an anthropological perspective on the relationship between sex (the biological attributes by which a person is deemed “male” or “female”) and gender (the norms and ideals associating appropriate roles, behaviors, and sexualities with men or women). In order to understand the various debates and their stakes, we will read anthropological accounts of cultures in which sex and gender are construed very differently from our own and combine these with discussions of documentary and popular movies and video clips. The course will provide students with ways to understand how we come to consider and express ourselves as “men” or “women,” the social forces that constrain us to act and think as gendered persons, and the potential consequences for not conforming to those norms. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Anthropology 348 - Languages of the Americas
See Linguistics 348 for description.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 349 - Time and Space
Full course for one semester. Introduction to classic and contemporary anthropological literatures on the sociocultural production and experience of time and space, supported also by readings from several allied disciplines. Emphasis is on forming propositions specific enough to be relevant to interpretation of concrete ethnographic materials. Topics of major concern include memory, ritual, narrative, deixis, chronology and time reckoning, embodiment, landscape, the turn (or return) to history in anthropology, and the spatiotemporal organization of contemporary industrial societies. Narrower subproblems receiving deepest consideration will vary in different years of offering. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 354 - Anthropology of Islam
Full course for one semester. What is “Islam” and what roles does it play in the lives, identities and aspirations of Muslims around the world? This course explores the variety of ways in which the discursive tradition of Islam is drawn upon as a set of conceptual and moral resources by particular Muslims and Muslim communities in the course of living and reflecting upon their social, political, economic, and ethical lives. Topics of particular interest include the nature of religious belief; notions of Islamic authority; responses to and formulations of feminism, capitalism, postcolonial political configurations, and humanitarianism; institutions and practices of charitable giving and service; and the mutual constitution of Muslim selves and societies. Course readings will include theoretical treatments of core questions and problems in the anthropology of Islam coupled with ethnographic material covering a variety of sectarian traditions and locations, including South, Southeast, and Central Asia; the Middle East; Europe; and North America. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 355 - Anthropology of Colonialism
Full course for one semester. The course provides a historical anthropological exploration of colonialism. Drawing on case studies from Africa, Asia, and the Americas, it focuses on the colonial construction of categories of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, and how such cultural categories have been transformed or reproduced in the postcolonial present. Particular attention is paid to how processes and institutions of education, domesticity, urban planning, and census taking contribute to the production of docile subjects and the maintenance of colonial political and economic structures. Resistance, contestation, and decolonization are similarly addressed. Readings are drawn primarily from the field of anthropology. Given its focus on colonialism, the course provides students with a strong theoretical introduction to the burgeoning subfield of historical anthropology. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 360 - Country and City in Latin America
Full course for one semester. This course focuses on such elements as social movements, agro-industrialization, crime, and urban planning, as well as ideas regarding race, gender, and sexuality that have come with so-called modernization. We examine scholarship on both contemporary rural life and large urban areas in order to raise questions about relations between the two. The course will take up theoretical examinations of the transformations of city-country relations by such figures as Marx, Lefebvre, and Raymond Williams, as well as anthropological works of both the canon and contemporary scholarship on Latin America. We will also explore original works of literature, cinema, television, and music to present ways of thinking about contemporary rural and urban life in light of the organization of the countryside. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 361 - The Middle East: Culture and Politics
Full course for one semester. The Middle East has been the focus of increased scrutiny over the past few decades in light of U.S. economic and political interests, and yet the region’s internal cultural complexity is poorly understood and often overlooked. This course provides both an anthropological overview of the region’s political culture and cultural politics, as well as a critical inquiry into the very anthropo-geographic categories that have historically sustained a sense of unity in the region, including tribalism, honor and shame, religious piety, and poetic practices. In the process, the course explores larger comparative issues of colonialism, nationalism, state formation, sectarianism, urbanism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 362 - Gender and Ethnicity in China and Tibet
Full course for one semester. Chinese and Tibetan peoples have interacted for centuries, but it is only in the last half of the twentieth century that the “Tibet question” in China has risen to global attention. This course looks at modern Sino-Tibetan relations through the lens of ethnicity and gender as a way to understand the contentious process through which the Chinese nation-state and national identity have been constructed. Through readings, films, discussions, and lectures, we will explore the diversity of Tibetan and Han Chinese family organization, gender ideologies, and ethnic identities just prior to, during, and after the Communist revolutionary period. This perspective will shed light on the incorporation of Tibetans as a “minority nationality” in the Chinese “multinational state,” the role of such minorities in constructing Han Chinese majority identity, and the differing impact of state policies on men and women in the context of rapid economic reform and globalization in the PRC. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
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. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 365 - The Anthropology of Development in Post-Mao China
Full course for one semester. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, state leaders have struggled to chart a course to a Chinese modernity that would break with the perceived humiliations of European domination in the nineteenth century and bring China commensurate status in a newly configured world stage of nations. Since Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms in the early 1980s, the PRC has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As such, it is poised to have major impacts globally, and especially since the PRC’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, these meteoric socioeconomic changes have complex implications for its diverse 1.2 billion people. This course draws on anthropological theories of modernity, capitalism, globalization, and development to turn a critical eye on discourses and practices of “development” in the PRC. Drawing on theoretical, historical, and ethnographic writings, as well as on other media such as government policy papers, advertising, and documentary films, we consider the contexts and contradictions of various development efforts just before, during, and after the Maoist period, focusing especially on the post-Mao era of economic reforms. The PRC thus will serve as a case study for our broader examination of theories conceptualizing the relationships between global capitalism and local realities. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 366 - Black, Indian, and Other in Brazil
Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the status and meaning of multiculturalism in contemporary Brazil. We will raise questions on the legacies of older models of racial ideology, including such concepts as acculturation, “racial democracy,” and luso-tropicalismo. The course gives primacy to intersections of race with the production of class and gender. The course further seeks to situate social movements like the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) and indigenist politics within the larger international production and exchange of ideas regarding race, ethnicity, and social justice. Finally, in addition to core course materials focusing on academic literature, we will examine pieces from Brazilian fine art, cinema, music, and television. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 373 - Two-Spirit, Berdache, Akoziigokwe?: Social Gender in Indian Nations
Full course for one semester. Beginning with early narratives of social gender among Indian Nations, the course will give critical examination to the ways in which contact with other nations effected tribal notions of man, woman, other. We will pay particular attention to the gendered discursive practice of these contact nations and the changes that created among Indian peoples. The course will further consider the work of contemporary two-spirit writers in the face of hetero-normativity, and the ways in which Indian Nations navigate their unique legal position to allow for same-sex marriages. Readings include both sex/gender theory and ethnographic and historical case studies. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 374 - Urban Anthropology
Full course for one semester. The course provides an introduction to urban anthropology, with a particular focus on the colonial and postcolonial metropole as an exemplary site for the reciprocal influences of global and local processes. It explores how the city functions simultaneously as a locus for the negotiation of cultural diversity and for utopian ideals of rational communication. Drawing from cases throughout the “developed” and “developing” worlds, the course examines how urban culture is produced and reproduced under regimes of industrialization, colonialism, modernism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 378 - Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism
Full course for one semester. This course examines canonical and contemporary anthropological treatments of the concept of nature and human relations with the natural environment. We discuss how conceptions of nature are always shaped, transformed, and produced by social relations. Course materials focus primarily on ethnographies oriented towards the intersections of political ecology, science studies, and postcolonial theory. Course topics include the history of the Western nature-culture opposition and its critics, as well as recent scholarship on such topics as food studies, the social life of forests, human-animal interactions, race and the genome, and the supposed advent of the “posthuman.” Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Anthropology 379 - Critical Interventions in American Indian Studies
Full course for one semester. The course begins with a critical examination of the origins of American Indian/Native American studies. After situating the field we will engage with leading tribal scholars addressing contemporary topics such as representation and identity, queer indigeneity, social and political activism, decolonization movements, tribal justice systems, and tribal sovereignties. Note: this course is not an encyclopedic and/or historical/archaeological overview of native North America. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 380 - Anthropology of Class
Full course for one semester. Class hierarchies and social stratification are preeminent and perduring features of human social organization. More than simply a measure of monetary wealth, class encompasses a set of social and cultural diacritics of difference and distinction, the terms of which are subject to struggle and transformation over time. Drawing on Marxian, Weberian, and Bourdieuian approaches, the course will explore class as a social resource, an occupational structure, a marker of distinction, a ground of performance, and an object of consciousness. Readings will include classics of social theory as well as historical and ethnographic studies based in Europe, North America, Latin America, South Asia, and Africa. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 387 - African Bodies: Medicine, Labor, Modernity
Full course for one semester. This seminar uses historical and ethnographic analyses of bodies and the politics of health, healing, and embodiment to explore central issues in the anthropology of sub-Saharan Africa. Our focus is on central, eastern, and southern Africa. Topics we will examine include Africans’ responses to colonialism, missionization, and incorporation into regimes of industrial labor and mass consumption; debates over “modernity” in colonial and postcolonial contexts; the impact of colonialism on forms and experiences of intimacy, affliction, and kinship; and recent tensions around efforts to situate “global health” in Africa. We will analyze the historical forms of affliction and its amelioration in Africa, as well as the place of history and the historical imagination in experiences of and claims to suffering and healing. As we engage with arguments about African bodies as the objects of moral and political contests over the longue durée, students will acquire a familiarity with key questions, texts, and arguments within African history and anthropology. Students are encouraged to explore the recommended works of African fiction that complement and complicate the historical and ethnographic accounts provided by course texts. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 391 - Legal Anthropology
Full course for one semester. The course examines the concept of legality as a social institution and a prominent feature of popular culture. Beginning with the emergence of legal anthropology and its history within the larger discipline, the course will focus on the relationships human actors have with the law as both an embedded social institution, and a disembodied set of authoritative doctrines. The course will orient students to productive ways of studying law and legality anthropologically. Topical areas will include Rule of Law, crime and punishment, sovereignty, alternative legal institutions, colonial and postcoloniality, environmental law, and transnationality. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 394 - Language Attrition and Endangerment
Full course for one semester. Language is one of the most salient and identifiable aspects of human culture. Human languages provide rich material for anthropological study as wells of deep knowledge through which we understand our identities, presents, and futures. Throughout the world many language communities are facing issues of language attrition and endangerment. This course provides an introduction to the practical and theoretical causes of language shift and the implications for impacted communities. Contemporary debates about the state of the field, methodological strategies for language documentation, and education and revitalization tactics will also be covered. Selected case studies provide a global perspective on the discourse of language endangerment and show the diversity of community initiatives. The role of language in constructing and maintaining cultural identity and historical continuity is a common theme in this course. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Anthropology 395 - Globalization
Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction from an anthropological perspective to recent theories and debates about the nature of “globalization.” What is “globalization?” Why has this term become so prevalent in social theory and popular discourse in the past 20 years? What competing worldviews and political economic visions does it encompass? Beginning with influential debates outside of anthropology, we move quickly to consider the criticisms and alternatives offered by anthropologists and their interlocutors, especially since the late 1980s. Drawing on the recent spate of theoretical literature, ethnographies, and award-winning films on globalization and capitalism at a variety of scales, discussions and written assignments will address some of the most pressing and conflictual issues facing humankind today. How new are the translocal processes now labeled “globalization?” What is the nature of capitalism in a so-called “postcolonial” or “neoliberal” age? How are new forms of infrastructure, networks, economic development, and exploitation connecting different regions of the world? What forms of social and spatial mobility are emerging? What are the roles of both national states and transnational organizations and associations in these changes? How are forms of racial, ethnic, and gender difference constructed through these processes? What alternatives and resistances have been constructed? While course readings will touch on perspectives from a variety of disciplines, the course is designed to provide a specifically anthropological lens on these issues. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 396 - Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity
Full course for one semester. The course explores the categories of race and ethnicity (and their entanglement) from an anthropological perspective. It critically examines the social, cultural, and political production of identities and inequalities in many different regions, from North and South America to Africa and Southeast Asia. We will situate the institution and evolution of racial and ethnic delineations in the history of global processes (such as slavery, colonization, and migration). The course will also trace the uses and misuses of the concepts of race and ethnicity in the history of anthropology and question their variations within several national anthropological traditions. We will extend our inquiry to a few other essential differences, both ancient and recent. The course will include references to history, sociology, and cognitive psychology. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 397 - Media Persons Publics
Full course for one semester. The meteoric rise of new forms of digital data and social media in the past 20 years has generated, on the one hand, fantasies of utopic intimacy (the immediacy promised in a new “global village”), and on the other, moral panics about unprecedented estrangement (the hypermediation of virtual worlds and corporate or government “big data”). In this course, we challenge this dichotomy of intimacy/immediacy versus estrangement/mediation by taking an anthropological approach to the question of human communication. Drawing on interdisciplinary debates in philosophy, linguistic anthropology, and media studies, we develop tools for understanding all communication as both mediated and material, grounded in embodied practices and technological infrastructures and situated in historical events. This in turn will allow us to grasp how circulations of media forms and commodities participate in the creation of types of persons and publics across multiple scales of time and space. Bringing those theoretical and methodological debates into dialogue with ethnographic studies and other forms of media, we ask: How do people sense and interpret themselves, others and their worlds? What is the boundary between the human and nonhuman in a digital age? What roles do states or transregional capitalisms play in the mediation of valued and devalued persons and publics? What are the possibilities for communication amidst great gaps in access to valued forms of media? Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Anthropology 398 - Race and Migration
Full course for one semester. This course explores the major ways in which social scientists and critics have interpreted migration. Readings are taken from anthropology, political science, history, and cultural studies. Comparing the experiences of the United States, Britain, France, and Australia, the course considers both the politico-economic effects of and ideological contests over migration. The course focuses on issues of identity formation, and particularly on the ways in which immigrants are incorporated into and/or excluded from processes of nation formation and imagination. In this respect, the course is about the racial boundaries of contemporary citizenship and debates over multiculturalism in contemporary societies, as well as about human mobility. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 411 - Performance and Performativity
Full course for one semester. This course is an advanced seminar in linguistic anthropology. Anthropologists have long been interested in the complex dynamism of social life. Yet early attempts to account for this dynamism in the construction of cultural and linguistic worlds were obscured in favor of static representations of “cultures” and dualistic understandings of sociocultural structures versus individual actions or intentions. This course considers “performance” and “performativity” to be recent rubrics that group together a wide variety of social theorists who have focused instead on the emergent and contested nature of all meanings as they are communicated in everyday and ritualized speech and practice. The course will develop from key foundational texts in the philosophy of language to more recent theoretical and ethnographic work to explore the implications of this perspective for understanding language as social action, the nature of “context” and interpretive politics, the relationships between formal events or performances and everyday life, and the social construction of selves and others. By directing analytic focus to the indeterminacy, ambiguity, and multiplicity inherent to social life, the course challenges students to reconsider some of the central issues in anthropological theory, such as agency, identity, power, and resistance. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Cross-listed as Linguistics 411. Conference.
Anthropology 413 - Protean Sovereignties
Full course for one semester. The course examines “sovereignties,” paying particular attention to the shifting conceptions attached to the term from early modernity to contemporary times. Drawing upon a wide range of literature on the topic, we will situate the discussion within anthropology as deeply intersubjective juridical, political, and social phenomena. A critical discussion of “sovereignties” will help us better understand related sociocultural phenomena such as nationhood and nationalisms, bureaucratization, power, and hegemony. We will begin with early authors and follow a historical trajectory, which we will use to critically examine moments of sovereign enactment occurring throughout recent history. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
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 2017–18.
Anthropology 440 - Translation and the Boundaries of Difference
Full course for one semester. The metaphor of translation has been used—in positive and negative senses—to describe anthropology’s goals for many years. Even if many anthropologists have given up on a model of culture-as-text that requires translation for outsiders, negotiating problems of difference still remain. How do ethnographers confront spatial, social, linguistic, disciplinary, and temporal dislocations? How do social actors negotiate these differences? What kinds of social and ideological formations control the flow of discourses across boundaries? This course examines theories of translation from a number of different disciplines—including literary studies, linguistics, linguistic anthropology, post-colonial studies, and anthropology itself—in which authors have had to grapple with the ethical, methodological, and practical dilemmas of transposition. The goal of the course is to examine translation as a pragmatic process in which indexical formations anchor discourses as they move across boundaries, looking at how those boundaries are made, contested, and reformed through time. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Linguistics 440.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 442 - Ontological Politics
Full course for one semester. This course offers a critical examination of anthropology’s recent “ontological turn,” notable for the influence of such scholars as Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Challenging universalist assumptions that posit an inert and inanimate world of objects as a backdrop to human action, the study of the cultural and historical specificity of ontologies presents alternative views about the nature of what exists. Observing the things that populate, and the processes that make, the lived and known experience of anthropology’s ethnographic subjects draws attention to contrasting knowledge regimes. Consideration of alternate ontologies allows Euro-modernity’s “others” articulation of their own bases of knowledge, logics of practice, and courses of action. However, how anthropologists approach such considerations entails its own sets of political terms and stakes in knowledge production. This seminar examines anthropological debates about how to analyze and address the political tensions that arise in settings where nonmodern beings and forces are recognized and addressed by “other” political actors. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Not offered 2017–18.
Anthropology 461 - Theories of Practice
Full course for one semester. Social theorists have long struggled with delineating the precise relationship between social structure and human agency in the explanation of extant cultural forms and their transformations over time. This course explores one set of proposed solutions generally classified under the rubric of “practice theory.” Building from the social philosophies of Elias, Bourdieu, Giddens, and de Certeau, the course examines how practice theory has informed anthropological inquiry and constituted a response to seemingly determinist theories of human behavior associated with structuralism and structural functionalism. Contemporary anthropological work by Marshall Sahlins, Sherry Ortner, Michael Herzfeld, and the Comaroffs, among others, will be read in light of earlier disciplinary engagement with the structure-agency question, including by Manchester School ethnographers. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Anthropology 465 - Suffering, Narrative, and Subjectivity
Full course for one semester. “The subject living in pain, in poverty, or under conditions of violence or oppression,” Joel Robbins contends in a recent essay, “now very often stands at the center of anthropological work” (2013:448). This course examines the emergence of what Robbins calls “the suffering slot,” that is, the displacement of difference in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century anthropology as the discipline’s organizing principle, and a reorientation toward universal human vulnerability. Our concern is with how this turn has shaped both the substantive and ethical contours of anthropological investigation and ethnographic writing: What can, and ought, anthropologists know and say about the world and those who inhabit it? What can, and ought to, be the relationship between anthropologists and their objects of study? We will give particular attention to philosophical arguments that emphasize the ineffability of suffering—that is, the ways that suffering defies narrative—and the implications of these arguments for theories of subjectivity. Of particular interest is how these ideas have shaped the generic conventions that have emerged in anthropological studies of suffering, and how these conventions in turn reflect a particular moment in anthropology’s self-understanding as a discipline. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.
Anthropology 470 - Thesis
Full course for one year.
Anthropology 481 - Independent Reading
One-half or full course for one semester. Open only to upper-class students with special permission.