Course Descriptions

Course Catalog for ANTHROPOLOGY
ANTH 101
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Anthropology as a field asks what it means to be human: how do we know what is universal to human existence? What is natural and what is cultural? How can the strange become familiar and the familiar strange? This course introduces the theory and method of cultural anthropology as applied to case studies from different geographic and ethnographic areas. Topics to be considered include family and kinship, inequality and hierarchy, race and ethnicity, ritual and symbol systems, gender and sexuality, reciprocity and exchange, globalization and social change.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 200
The Occult in America
Since its inception, the United States has had a thriving community of individuals interested in those supernatural, mystical, and magical worlds, known collectively as the "Occult." Students will examine the significance of a wide range of occult practices, including the New Age movement, Neo-Paganism, Wicca, and Satanism. By exploring the practices and beliefs of American Occultists students will begin to unravel the occult's hidden role in the formation of American society, especially as it relates to issues of class, race, gender, and nationality. In so doing, students will seek to answer the question: What does it mean to be religious in America?
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 204
Religions of the Black Atlantic
Through the lens of diaspora and critical-race theory, this course explores the ways in which global trends in religious practice have affected, inspired, and forever changed the Black Atlantic world. Students will explore a variety of Afro-Caribbean religions such as Haitian Vodou, Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Lukumi, and U.S.-based conjure/hoodoo. In so doing, students will develop an appreciation for religious diversity and an understanding of the ways in which race, capitalism, colonialism, nationality, and emerging trends in global tourism continue to affect the ways Caribbean peoples experience religion from across the region.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 205
Religions of Africa
This course is an exploration of the ways in which Africans make sense of their worlds through religion. By reading a wide range of ethnographic and historical texts, students will consider the challenges that post-colonial politics present to understanding religion in Africa and in the diaspora Students will examine a variety of African religious traditions ranging from indigenous practices to the ways in which Christianity and Islam have developed uniquely African beliefs. In so doing, students will frame African religions as global phenomena while considering the historical and contemporary salience of the many canonical themes found in African religion such as spirit possession, divination, healing, magic, witchcraft, sorcery, and animal sacrifice.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 207
Anthropological Perspectives on Women and Gender
Using texts and films, this course will explore the nature of women’s lives in both the contemporary United States and a number of radically different societies around the world, including, for example, the !Kung San people of the Kalahari and the Mundurucù of Amazonian Brazil. As they examine the place of women in these societies, students will also be introduced to theoretical perspectives that help explain both variations in women’s status from society to society and "universal" aspects of their status.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 208
Photographing Culture
This course explores the meaning anthropology has applied to photography and film both as an end product and as an ethnographic method. Students will develop an appreciation for the challenges and poetics of the camera’s lens in anthropology. Through an examination of photographic framing and subject analysis, students will grapple with classic topics in anthropology such as gender, sexuality, race, and class. By creating a photographic essay students will ask: What sorts of anthropological stories can be told using a camera? And, how might the camera help to provide us with important social critiques of some of the worlds most important social issues?
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 215
Medical Anthropology
This course covers major topics in medical anthropology, including biocultural analyses of health and disease, the social patterning of disease, cultural critiques of biomedicine, and non-Western systems of healing. We will explore the major theoretical schools in medical anthropology, and see how they have been applied to specific pathologies, life processes, and social responses. Finally we will explore and critique how medical anthropology has been applied to health care in the United States and internationally. The course will sensitize students to cultural issues in sickness and health care, and provide some critical analytic concepts and tools.
Prerequisite: C- or better in Anthropology 101 or other Anthropology course or permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 219
Body Politics
The anthropology of the body examines how social inequality is written on and gets into the body and influences people’s everyday lives. We will explore how day-to-day bodily experience is configured differently across cultures and lifeworlds, and how this influences perceptions of organ donation, life and death, pregnancy and reproductive rights, disability, addiction and recovery, and mental illness. If we understand how humans incorporate inequity into their bodies, can this help remediate social inequality?
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 227
Introduction to Political Ecology
This course covers social science approaches to issues concerning ecology, the environment, and nature. It looks at how social identities and cultural meaning are symbolically tied to the physical environment. Ecology and the environment are affected by larger political, social, and economic forces, so we will also broaden the analysis to include wider spatial and temporal scales. The course will also examine how sociology and geography relate to political ecology. Regional foci will include South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 228
Anthropology from the Margins of South Asia
This course will examine how the northwestern and northern mountainous regions of South Asia have been constructed in the Western popular imagination, both in literary texts and in academic debates. Starting with the era of the Great Game in the late 19th century and ending with the current "war on terror," the course will explore the transformation and continuation of past social and political conditions, and their representations within the region. This will help illuminate some of the enduring themes in anthropological debates, such as culture contact; empires, territories, and resources; and human agency.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 238
Economic Anthropology
We often assume that culture and the economy are separate, but all economic transactions contain cultural dimensions, and all cultural institutions exhibit economic features. This course provides an introduction to key debates and contemporary issues in economic anthropology. We will consider differences in the organization of production, distribution, and consumption in both subsistence and market economies and examine ways in which anthropologists have theorized these differences. Topics for discussion will include cultural conceptions of property and ownership, social transitions to market economies, the meanings of shopping, and the commodification of bodies and body parts such as organs and blood. Course materials will draw from ethnographic studies, newspaper articles, and documentary films.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 241
Women in the Caribbean
This course explores the diverse lives of women of the Caribbean. We will begin with feminist theories of women and power and trace how those understandings have emerged and changed over time. We will use ethnographies to examine women’s lives in both historical and contemporary Caribbean settings, and explore major theoretical approaches in feminist and Caribbean anthropology. We will analyze how women’s experiences have been shaped by multiple forces, including slavery and emancipation, fertility and constructs of motherhood, gender and violence, race and identity, tourism and sex work, illness and poverty, globalization and labor.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 243
Latin American and Caribbean Religions
This course explores the ways in which global trends in religious practice have affected, inspired, and forever changed Latin American and Caribbean religion. Students will explore a variety of Latin American and Caribbean religions such as those of the Afro-Caribbean, so-called “folk Catholicism,” and the Amazon’s great Ayahuasca religions. In so doing, students will develop an appreciation for religious diversity and an understanding of the ways in which race, capitalism, colonialism, nationality, and emerging trends in global tourism continue to affect the ways Latin American and Caribbean peoples experience religion from across the region.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 245
Anthropology and Global Health
This course examines the growing collaborative and critical roles of anthropology applied to international health. Anthropologists elicit disease taxonomies, describe help-seeking strategies, critique donor models, and design behavioral interventions. They ask about borders and the differences among conceptions of health and disease as global, international, or domestic topics. These issues will be explored through case studies of specific diseases, practices, therapies, agencies, and policies.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 247
China through Film
Film provides a vital medium for understanding changes in Chinese society and culture. Film illustrates shifts in political and economic systems, and reveals changes in the possibilities of individual and collective expression. In China, film has been used both as a tool of the state and as an implement of cultural critique. This course surveys five decades of Chinese film, focusing primarily on mainland films, but also looking at films from Hong Kong and Taiwan. No knowledge of Chinese language is necessary for the course.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 250
Mobility and Sustainability
What is the relationship between mobility, community and sustainability? We will look at mobility in different cultures, ranging from hunter gathers to nomadic herders to suburban commuters. What are the characteristics of social life in cultures where people primarily walk, canoe or sail, rely on animal power, or travel in motorized vehicles? We will investigate how technological innovation, whether in the form of trains, buses, bicycles, cars or airplanes, can change people’s perceptions of both the surrounding landscape and themselves. We will also examine the kinds of infrastructure and resources needed for certain technologies of mobility, such as cars. Can we imagine motorized transport that is both environmentally and socially sustainable? Course materials will include books, articles and films. Students will conduct a mini research project related to the course.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 253
Urban Anthropology
This course will trace the social scientific (especially ethnographic and cultural) study of the modern city from its roots in the Industrial Revolution through the current urban transformations brought about by advanced capitalism and globalization. Why are cities organized as they are? How does their organization shape, and get shaped by, everyday practices of city inhabitants? This course will explore the roles of institutional actors (such as governments and corporations) in urban organization, and the effects of economic change, immigration, and public policy on the social organization and built environment of cities. It will examine social consequences of cities, including economic inequality, racial stratification, community formation, poverty, and urban social movements. Though it will focus on American urbanism, this course will also be international and ethnographic.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 254
The Meaning of Work
This course takes a cross-cultural look at the ways in which people define work in daily life. Drawing upon diverse sources, including ethnography, fiction, biography and investigative journalism, it will examine the ways in which people labor to make a living and to sustain their households. Students will consider such key questions as: What makes work meaningful? How are occupational communities formed? How is work gendered? How have global forces reshaped the nature of work? How do people experience the lack of work? Examples will be drawn from different work environments, including mining, fishing, agriculture, industry, service work, domestic work and intellectual work.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 259
Beyond Putin and Mladic: Anthropology of Contemporary Russia, Balkans, and Eastern Europe
How have the cultures of the former Soviet Union and contemporary Eastern Europe managed their recent political and economic transformation? This course will use political anthropology to examine this question and thereby consider the region's "double conversion" from Communism and the Cold War to representative democracy and twenty-first century politics. Areas of concentration will include regional politics and how they relate to economics, religion, and human rights. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of how the contemporary Russian Federation, Balkans, and Eastern Europe are transforming in the early twenty-first century.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 281
Anthropology of Religion
Introduction to the foundations of religion through an examination of religious phenomena prevalent in traditional cultures. Some of the topics covered in this course include a critical examination of the idea of primitivity, the concepts of space and time, myths, symbols, ideas related to God, man, death, and rituals such as rites of passage, magic, sorcery, witchcraft, and divination. (May be counted toward anthropology and international studies/comparative development.)
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 284
The Anthropology of Violence
This course approaches the study of violence through texts, case studies, and films. Does aggression come from biology, culture or both? How is violence defined cross culturally? What constitutes legitimate violence? How has violence been used throughout history to establish, maintain and subvert power? We will examine forms of violence including state violence, war, interpersonal and domestic violence. We will also explore the consequences of violence on health, community and culture.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 300
Junior Seminar
A seminar designed for anthropology majors in their junior year. The course is designed to build knowledge of the discipline, including contemporary debates, the publication process, and the work of anthropologists beyond the academy (e.g. in business, public health, government and non-governmental organizations, etc.). Students write a research proposal for a potential senior thesis and interview a working anthropologist.
Seats Reserved for Anthropology majors.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 301
Ethnographic Methods and Writing
This course will acquaint students with a range of research methods commonly used by anthropologists, and with the types of questions and designs that justify their use. It will describe a subset of methods (individual and group interviewing, and observation) in more detail, and give students practice in their use, analysis, and presentation. Through accompanying readings, the course will expose students to the controversies surrounding the practice of ethnography and the presentation of ethnographic authority. Students will conduct group field research projects during the course, and will develop and write up research proposals for projects they themselves could carry out in a summer or semester. It is recommended that students have already taken an anthropology course.
Seats Reserved for Anthropology majors.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 302
History of Anthropological Thought
This course explores the anthropological tradition as it has changed from the late 19th century until the present. Students will read works of the major figures in the development of the discipline, such as Bronislaw Malinowski, Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Claude Levi-Strauss. They will learn not only what these anthropologists had to say about reality, but why they said it when they did. In this sense, the course turns an anthropological eye on anthropology itself.
1.00 units, Lecture
ANTH 303
Urban China
What does it mean to live in one of the fastest growing cities in the fastest growing economy in the world? This course focuses on understanding the complex and ongoing transformations of Chinese cities, examining such topics as contestations over the urban environment and “public” space, the rise of China’s new middle class, new consumption patterns, rural to urban migration, and spaces of youth culture. Course materials will include ethnographies, journal and newspaper articles as well as documentary and feature film clips
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 304
Material Religion
This course explores the ways in which individuals from a variety of religious traditions experience religious belief, enact religious practice, and relate to the so-called “Divine” through material culture. Students will examine themes such as relics, clothing, bodies, blood, architecture, shrines, and charms. By reading ethnographic and theoretical texts, this course helps students to consider the role that material religion plays in enhancing or complicating prayer, ritual, and everyday religious piety.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 305
Identities in Britain and Ireland
Using ethnographies, nonfiction, novels and films, this course introduces students to the complex negotiations that go into being "British" or "Irish" in the world today. We will apply anthropological theories of identity as a social process to textual and visual material, challenging conventional notions of ethnicity as primordial or fixed. Discussions will address issues of postcolonialism, borders and boundaries, gender and race, and relations between persons and landscapes.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 308
Anthropology of Place
This course explores the increasingly complex ways in which people in industrial and non-industrial societies locate themselves with respect to land and landscape. Contrary to some widespread assumptions regarding the fit between identity and place (i.e., ethnicity and nationalism), we study a range of settings in which people actively construct, contest, and reappropriate the spaces of modern life. Through texts, seminar discussions, films, and a field-based research project as the major exercise, students will explore a number of issues, including cultural persistence and the loss of place; the meaning of the frontier and indigenous land rights struggles; gender and public space; the deterritorialization of culture (i.e., McDonald’s in Hong Kong); and the cultural costs of an increasingly "fast" and high-tech world.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 310
Anthropology of Development
This seminar will explore international economic and social development from an anthropological perspective. We will critically examine concepts of development, underdevelopment, and progress. We will compare how multilateral lenders and small nongovernmental organizations employ development rhetoric and methods. We will examine specific case studies of development projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, asking what has been attained, and what is attainable.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 317
Anthropology of Magic, Sorcery, and Witchcraft
Anthropologists have explained, documented, and positioned magic, sorcery, and witchcraft as modern strategies designed to empower individuals to cope with and master an ever-globalizing world. Students will explore magic from around the globe and consider the complex relationships that exist between magic, materiality, and other cultural phenomena such as intimacy, family, and capitalism. In so doing, this class will position magic as a meaningful cultural practice that is critical to understanding how people mobilize complex symbolic systems and non-human beings to manage increasing concerns over social inequity, global economic insecurity, and distrust.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 330
Anthropology of Food
Because food is necessary to sustain biological life, its production and provision occupy humans everywhere. Due to this essential importance, food also operates to create and symbolize collective life. This seminar will examine the social and cultural significance of food. Topics to be discussed include the evolution of human food systems, the social and cultural relationships between food production and human reproduction, the development of women’s association with the domestic sphere, the meaning and experience of eating disorders, the connection between ethnic cuisines, nationalist movements and social classes, and the causes of famine.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 369
The Cradle of Voodoo
This course is a survey of Vodún, the West African religious complex known commonly as “Voodoo.” With a focus on the Republic of Bénin students will examine the ebb and flow of Dahomey, the country’s most powerful and famous African empire. Students will explore the ways in which Vodúnisants mobilize the spirit worlds to heal their families; use complex systems of magic and witchcraft to overcome obstacles; and venerate their dead using elaborate masquerades during which the dead are reanimated to dance in spectacular displays of power. This course is designed as a precursor to the J-term course, “West Africa Abroad” where students will travel to Bénin to explore the topics of this course first hand.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 370
West Africa Abroad
Students taking this course will travel to West Africa to explore the religious and cultural lives ofpeople living in Bénin. The course provides lived ethnographic experiences and training to students interested in Bénin’s rich history, diverse religious traditions, and cultural practices. Students will examine the ebb and flow of Dahomey, the country’s most powerful and famous African empire; experience rituals and ceremonies used by Vodúnisants to mobilize the spirit worlds to heal their families; and observe how Béninois venerate their dead using elaborate masquerades during which the ancestors are reanimated to dance in spectacular displays of power. This course will serve as both an ethnographic field school and an opportunity to experience Africa's vibrant Cultures while living with African people.
0.50 units, Seminar
ANTH 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chair are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
ANTH 401
Advanced Seminar in Contemporary Anthropology
Anthropologists are a contentious lot, often challenging the veracity and relevance of each other’s interpretations. In this seminar, students will examine recent manifestations of this vexatiousness. The seminar will consider such questions as: Can culture be regarded as collective and shared? What is the relationship between cultural ideas and practical action? How does one study culture in the postmodern world of "the celluloid, global ethnoscape"? Can the practice of anthropology be fully objective, or does it demand a politics—an understanding that ideas, ours and theirs, are historically situated, politicized realities? Is domination the same everywhere?
Seats Reserved for Anthropology majors.
1.00 units, Seminar
ANTH 466
Teaching Assistantship
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
ANTH 497
Senior Thesis
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment in this single-semester thesis. (1 course credit to be completed in one semester.)
1.00 units, Independent Study
ANTH 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for each semester of this year long thesis. (2 course credits are considered pending in the first semester; 2 course credits will be awarded for completion in the second semester.)
2.00 units, Independent Study