Selected Course Descriptions for Spring 2014
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
This course is an introduction to a very large field, cultural anthropolgy. We will begin investigating Anthropolgy as a discipline. We are each individuals with specific subjectivities navigating diverse settings and interacting with diverse people. What this implies is that our observations and beliefs are largely infomred by our unique backgrounds and we often generalize from our own and othrs' actions. A goal of this course is to begin to undo, and to scutinize critically, these generalizations and our cultural "common sense". Every act, ritual, coversation has a cultural logic that can help us begin to understand why we are what we do and they do what they do.
Introduction to Human Evolution
This class is designed with both a lecture section and a lab section. You will handle casts of fossils, skeletal material, and watch and discuss films about primate behavior and conservation. By the end of the class you should have a working knowledge of genetics, evolutionaly theory, primate behavior, and conservation and human evolution.
The Human Species
In this course we examine human biology and behavior from an evolutionary perspective, comparing our anatomy, physiology, and behavior to those of living primates and other mammals. We will discuss the relative roles of genes ("nature") and environment ("nurture"), the biological basis of behavior, local biological adaptations evident in modern populations, growth and development, and diet and disease. Students will actively engage in the development of scientific hypotheses, data colleciton, and data synthesis analysis, as part of laboratory research experiences throughout the semester. Material covered will help prepare students to understand and evaluate recent advances in genetics, behavioral studies, medicine and evolution.
Introduction to Archaeology
This course provides in an introduction to the archaeological record of human change over the last 2.5 million years. We will consider such topics as human origins, our history as hunters and gatherers, the origins of food production and the development of early complex societies. Course requirements include mid-term and final examinations, and eight brief reviews of articles from the professional literature.
Introduction to Linguistics
The objective of this course is to provide an introduction to the study of language from an anthropological perspective, starting from its most minute components, such as the phonemes, and finishing with the larger social context: for instance, how language is used to construct and preserve social inequality. Our exploration of linguistic structures and the social context of language use will introduce students to key topics in linguistic anthropology. Special emphasis will be placed on critical thinking about the role of language and communication in contemporary anthropological and social scientific debates, and on relating language and communication to other aspects of human experience. We will draw primarily from research in the subfield of linguistic anthropology, but also from anthropology at large, linguistics, sociology, psychology, and communication studies.
Africa Society and Culture
African societies have been and continue to be popularly misrepresented as violent, suffering, stuck in tradition and without history, Such a caricature, however, overlooks the depth of change and creativity that has always existed throughout the continent. Through a critical look at historical and contemporary processes - focusing on the development of the state, religion, race, gender, urbanization and transnational movement - this course aims to provide a well rounded foundation for the anthropological understanding of African sucoeites and cultures.
Latin American Society and Culture
This course will be an introduction to the people and culture of Latin America, including middle and South America and the Caribbean. We will explore the diverse pre-Columbian socieites of the region, including their intellectual achievements, politcal organization and material contributions to world culture. Aspects of early European contact and conquest will also be explored as well as the cultures and legacies of colonail societies. We will also investigate patterns of historical and economic developmen. Particular attention will be paid to issues of race, ethnicity, gender and class in Latin America
Music of the Peoples and Culture f the Caribbean Area
Indigenous peoples, family life, music, religion and economy.
Peoples and Cultures of the Mediterranean
Introduction to the study of the peoles and cultures of the Mediterranean region. Examination of how the Mediterranean has been constructed as a culture area for antropological and historical research, the move into discussios of Mediterranean prehistory, religion, and polulat culture, music, dance, and gender.
Anthropology of the Civil Rights Movement in US
This course examines the grassroots struggle to gain equality and justice in the US, viewed as a social protest movement, from the perspective of cultural anthropology. Focus on major events, themes, and issues of the Civil Rights Movement and examine thier effect in challenging the American concept of democracy; in changing those who participated in it; and in spawning other social movememts that transformed Ameircan society and culture.
The anthropological approach to observing, understanding and acting in the world is commonly referred to as "ethnography." What is ethnography? What is presumed, what are its conditions of possibility and what kinds of claims can it make about the world? What role does theory play in the definition, collection, and interpretaton of ethnographic "facts." What is the relationship between observer and observed in the ethnographic encounter?
Law and Race
Law and Anthropology
This course will explore anthropolgical approaches to the law, with special emphasis on the relationship between the law and the institutionalization of inequality. Thorugh this deconstructionist approach to "the law" students can critically evaluate its place in mobilizing and reproducing social relations of punishment, inequality, and domination. We will undertake a detaild ethnographic exploration of mass incarcertaion and the War on Dugs, considering the role of the U.S. legal regime in maintaining and reproducing social and political relations of dominaiton.
ANTH 791.51/ANTHP 311
Anthropology has historically used visual media as a key aspect of ethnographic representation. With the increasing accesibility of media technologies. Visual Anthropolgy is an indispensable tool for anyone considerig ethnographic research, media analyses, studies of material culture, or critical engagements with the arts and other forms of sultural display.
Anthropology of Violence
Undergraduate seminar explores the aftermath of state violence, be it war, colonialism, or imperialism. What happens after the officail end of the violence? What remans? How do you represent difficult pasts, And what does it mean to come to terms with the past violence.
ANTHC 401. 79
An introduction to some aspects of the anthropology of health and medicine. Using ethnographic texts, nonfiction tests, documentary films, and popular media, we shall focus particularly on questions about how one frames "illness," "Health," "healing," and "medicine" and the ways in which these ideas interact with "culture" both locally and globally.
ANTHC 321.58/ANTH 7-2.99
Ethnology of the United States
This course examines the US from an anthropological perspecitve. From the early days of the discipline, anthropologists have examined the people and cultures of the US and attempted to classify, analyze and theorize about what it means to be "American." Starting with anthropology's role in settler colonialism and the US imperial project, this course moves chronologically and thematically through the history of ethnological studies of the US. Throughout the semester, special attention will be paid to ideas of nationalism, belonging and exclusion, ethnicity, class, rurality and regionalism, the frontier/border, and work. Students are expected to fulfill the course requirements, including a term paper with original research.
ANTHC 310/ANTH 720
Politics and Power : Anthropological Perspective
This course is intended to expose students to approaches that anthropologists use to think about power and politics. This course draws on a rnage of theories of power and examines several of "social movements." Although the course is not an overview of the history of anthropological approaches to such topics, it will draw in contemporary and historical sources, giving studnets access to a number of difference approaches and ethnographic studies.
ANTHP 310/ANTH 794
Primate Ecology and Behavior
Through lectures, discussion and student presentations this course will examine the ecology and behavior of the living primates, with a focus on how ecological factors shape primate behavior. Topics include: community ecology, feeding and nutrition, kinship, mating strategies, and social organization. Because most primate species are threatened, endangered, or even facing extinction, we will also focus on how various aspects of ecoogy are use in the conservation of primates.
ANTHC 311.51/ANTHC 721.50
Anthropology of Music and the Arts
This course offers an overview of anthropological approaches to the study of the arts in a variety of ethnographic contexts. This semester will focus primarily on music and what is often called Sound Studies. We will begin with the question What is Art? and explore how the concept of “art” has been understood by art historians, philosophers, and anthropologists. How can Anthropology’s ethnographic focus promote a deeper understanding of the power of aesthetic practices to shape our world? Turning our attention to the production of sound in specific social and cultural contexts, we will explore how sound in its various manifestations – from music and ambient sound to natural sounds and urban noise – creates and challenges social and political identities in diverse cultural contexts, including the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Students will engage in a variety of listening exercises and create a sonic diary as part of the larger critical engagement with how our lives are shaped by sound.
Research Design in Anthropology
This class will introduce students to basic principles of research design in anthropology. Coursework will include constructing a research proposal, exploring data sets, and discussing ethical considerations in anthropological research.
History of Anthropological Theory
What should anthropologists study? What can they claim to know, and what kinds of questions should guide them in their research? Anthropology is an exciting, dynamic field of inquiry because anthropologists are continually reassessing the answers to these questions. In doing so, they use, adapt, and transform theory. In this course, we will look at how the theoretical debates on these questions have evolved from the middle of the 19th Century to the end of the 20th. By the end of the course, students will be better prepared to take their own, informed positions on some of the core questions of anthropological theory.
Women in Pre Historic Society
Since the 1980's, post-modern gender theory and feminist theory have been brought into archaeology to problematize assumptions about women's lives and gender-related phenomena in the past. Although this course will center on women, our goal is to fully comprehend how archaeological investigations of gender and related phenomena enrich understandings of human prehistory. To do this, we will learn, deconstruct and evaluate various archaeological approaches, including quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and critical theory. We will address the following key questions: Can archaeologists actually identify gendered phenomena and women in the archaeological record and if so, how? Which archaeological methods may be useful for this task?Are some methods problematic? How did women's lives interact with rank, class, power relations, race, divisions of labor, and violence? How have archaeologists' interpretations of and assumptions about gender roles interacted with contemporary popular culture and formal ideologies of gender?
ANTHC 320.56/ANTH 702.54
With the explosive growth of cities across the planet, our need to make sense of the causes and consequences of the seemingly chaotic processes or urbanization has become ever more urgent. Cities have been described as variously: command and control centers of global capitalism; founts of culture and creativity; loci of political power and emerging social movements; and spaces of new kinds of "commons" or alternatively : sources of environmental degradation; dens of crime and corruption, the battlefields of the "wars on terror" and warehouses for surplus humanity. Anthropologists have been engaged with exploring the urban experience and through the ethnographic method, continue to develop new wyas of seeing and interpreting city life.
Anthropology of Food
This course is intended to provide a multidisciplinary, comparative, and necessarily eclectic look at the anthropology of food, with a primary focus on issues of food and power. The objective of this course is to give students a thorough grounding in the following areas, several of which will be considered throughout the semester from different angles. Differeing approaches to the anthropology of food and to undersanding dietary patterns. Historical and contemporary "food regimes". Commodity chain analysis and the history of particular commodities, such as sugar, and chicken. Analyses of hunger, malnutrition and famine, as well as cultures of thinness and fatness. Debates between proponents of "food security" and "food soverignty" Food as a human rights and gender issue. Debates between proponents and agroecology and industrial agriculture. Food related social movements.
Magic, Witchcraft and Religion
Ethnology of US
Human Rights if Indegions
Of the number of growing sub-fields within the discipline of Anthropology, perhaps none embrace the growing interconnection of people and cultures more than the research conducted by medical anthropologists. From on-the-ground analysis of the perils of serving as a human subject, the interrogations of the ethical dimensions of global medicine, the everyday struggles of women to access reproductive health treatment, this course will offer a cross-cultural perspective on the ways that medicine, culture and politics intersect one another in an increasingly globalized world. In this class students will be challenged to rethink their basic conceptions of morality, ethics and what medicine is through close reading of recent ethnographic research in the field.
The science and ethical debates behind primate conservatoin.
International Migration/ LACS 434.77
More than 1 billion people are migrants: This is approximately 1/7 of the world population. Studying migration offers a privileged lens to understand historical and contemporary world processes in relation to power and domination, economic transitions, cultural transformations, forms of racialization, class relations, gender dynamics, and world inequalities.The objective of this course is to look at processes of forced, induced and voluntary migration from anthropological and historical perspectives, combining theoretical discussions with case studies of migration from and to different parts of the globe. These cases and discussions will be in continuous dialogue with the question of how we, as migrants and residents of the quintessential migrant New York City, can understand our own experiences and social contexts.
Archeology of North America
ANTH 719 combined with ANTHC 401.48
What does anthropological research tell us about the rapidly changing and politically charged fields of humanitarian aid and development assistance? After tracing its intellectual history, we investigate how this growing area of research is itself having to rethink its approach as globalization (among other forces) disrupts and transforms traditional configurations of international assistance. In the second part of the semester, we apply this rethinking to specific contexts in which aid and development efforts are deployed, and to the relevant actors involved such as states, international institutions, NGOs and local populations. Understanding official rhetoric and how actors and on texts interact, are the new ways in which anthropology is approaching global aid.
Analytic Methods in Archeology
This course will provide a basic introduction to statistical description and analysis with an emphasis on archeological applications. Specific techniques will be considered in the context of such topics as sampling, basic description, and exploratory data analysis. Approrpriate computers and software ae available for student use in the Quantitative Methods Laboraotry (705HN) of the Department of Anthropology
Linguistic Anthropology is one of the four subfields of anthropology. The objective of this course is to introduce graduate students to the sociocultural study of language. We will devote special attention to how language is essential to social life, to how we experience the world, and to how we see ourselves. In addition to key concepts of grammatical description and language acquisition, other concepts of this course are identity, race, social inequality, power, gender, and multilingualism.