Selected Course Descriptions
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
The study of living peoples in relation to their natural and social environments. Students are introducted to basic concepts of anthropology by their application to examples ranging from comparatively simple to complex societies, the relevance of studies in language, human biology and archaeology to understanding human cultures, and the application of anthropological findings to contemporary problems are focal points.
Introduction to Human Evolution
Following a survey of synthetic evolutionary theory, major outlines of vertebrate evolution, and primate evolution and social behavior, the ancestors and near relatives of humans from the past 15-20 million years are evaluated in detail. Interpretation of human and a number of closely related hominid species focuses on the morphological, behavioral and socio- biological aspects of their evolutionary history. The adaptive significance of variability in living human populations is surveyed.
Introduction to Human Variation
An examination of biological variability among contemporary human populations, emphasizing the interplay among genetic, social and environmental factors which are related to human diversity. Laboratories include experiments and exercises for the study of human diversity by way of selected features of biological variability such as growth and development, sickle-cell anemia and nutrition.
Introduction to Archaeology
This course provides an introduction to the archaeological record of human change over the last 2 million years. We will consider such topics as human origins, our history as hunters, the original discovery of "The New World", the origins of food production and the development of early complex societies.
Introduction to Linguistics
This course provides an introduction to the anthropological study of language. We will begin with the formal aspects of language description and structure, including phonetics, phonology, morphology and systax. Subsequent topics will include language change over time and sociolinguistics or the ethnography of communication.
ANTHC 301.00 with WOMST 300.59
Sex & Gender in Anthropological Perspective
The most fundamental distinction among all people is the difference between being male and being female. To what extent is the nature of the difference between the sexes universal? Are men always naturally agressive, while women are passive and submissive? Are differences best understood as biology, or is gender a cultural construct and hence variable? This course will examine the cultural construction of sexuality and gender. We will look at variation in ideas about sexuality, procreation and gender; how the individual learns gender roles; and how ideas about gender difference relate to kinship, economics, politics and religion. Lastly we will examine the transformations of sexuality and gender by looking at homosexuality and the impact of reproductive technology.
Anthropology of Religion
All cultures include some notion of sacred powers which render human life ultimately meaningful while, at the same time, providing the ideological contexts for social cohesion and conflict. The course critically explores some of the main approaches - functionalist, psychoanalytic, Marxist, structuralist, cultural and phenomenological - through which anthropologists have understood both the nature of this universal religious response and its relationship to human needs and institutions. Each theoretical tradition is evaluated in relationship to one or more ethnographic case studies - primarily in non-literate societies - in which the characteristic questions and methods of that tradition are exemplified. description to follow.
History of Anthropological Theory
This course will explore some of the main theoretical traditions in the history of anthropological theory from the 18th century to the present - Evolutionism, American Cultural Historicism, British Functionalism, French Structuralism, Cultural Materialism, Interpretive Anthropology, and Post-Modern Criticism. The course will seek to understand these currents in social thought in relationship to each other and to the times which produced them. The goal is to demonstrate that social theory is not merely important to anthropology, but to the critical faculties of any educated citizen.
ANTHC 320.76 / WOMST 300.53
Language, Sex & Gender
This course will concentrate on how males and females speak and how gender, a cultural construct, is reflected in language. Languages encode sexism and the roles of the sexes in many ways. For example, depending on the sex or sexual orientation of the speaker and the hearer/reader, different vocabulary or grammatical forms might be used. We will examine the topic of language, sex and gender from the perspective of various languages and societies.
ANTHC 351.00 / ANTH 777.00
Language and Culture
A survey of the many ways language is integrated into social action and belief systems. A comparative and historical approach to the U.S. and different societies around the world. The sociolinguistic topics include: interpersonal interaction and language variation related to context, sex, status, social group, the topic [ethnography of speaking]. Misconceptions and attitudes toward language and dialect. Speech varieties as symbols of ethnicity, class, caste, and national identity. Semantics and pragmatics. Language and intelligence. Bilingualism in society and bilingual switching. Contact between languages. Pidgin and creole languages. The politics of language in education and national language problems.
ANTHC 400.55 051/ ANTH 725.50
Anthropology of Ethnicity
Why do people define themselves and others in ethnic and national terms? What is the relationship between ethnicity and nationalism? How does nationalism imspire people to extreme actions? This course tackles these and related questions through a theoretical, historical and comparative examination of the mobilization of ethnic and national sentiments. The primary objective is to challenge interpretations of such identifications as "natural" and to reveal instead the political, economic and symbolic forces involved. In doing so we will look at how ethnicity and nationalism interact with other sources of identity such as gender and religion.
ANTHC 401.55 051 / ANTH 712.00
Hunters and Gatherers
This seminar will study hunter-gatherer adaptations, focusing on the ethnographic record of hunter-gatherer subsistence, settlement and social variation. We will begin with "classic" band societies such as the San Bushmen of the Kalahari, the Australian Aborigines, and the Inuit or Eskimos. Next, we will examine other hunter-gatherer cultures that are differently organized, such as the Bihor of India and the Agta of the Philippines (who are closely tied in symbiotic relationships with agricultural neighbors); and other groups with more complex socio-political organization, such as the Yurok of California and the Ainu of Japan. Archaeological approaches to the study of prehistoric hunters and gatherers will also be examined, as well as the role of ethnoarchaeology and ethnographic analogy in this field.
ANTHC 401.63 051 / ANTH 716.00
Medical anthropology is the study of how social, biological and environmental factors interact to affect human well-being and survival. In this course we will consider such diverse questions as whether some health problems of modern society are related to our hunting-and-gathering past, whether the New World was conquered by the superior technology that Europeans brought or by the Old World pathogens they carried, and why milk does not agree with many people of Asian and African descent. We will compare culturally constructed beliefs about the causes and cures of illness and disease, from those found in small, non-Western societies, to those that are the foundation of our own highly technical - and very expensive - health care system.
ANTHC 401.96 001 / ASIAN 390.01 001
This course examines theories regarding the economic, political and social origins and processes of contemporary international migration and settlement in the United States. specific topics include the impact of a global economy and politics, U.S. immigration policy and legal status, labor market structures and employment, entrepreneurship, health care, ethnic identity and politics, the rights of migrants, and a transnational framework for studying migratin. The course focuses on the experiences of peoples from the Caribbean and Asia who comprise the majority if migrants coming to New York City.
ANTHC 426.00 001
The Archaeology of Colonialism
This course will examine the material evidence for and anthropological implications of the following: 1 - Changes in the social and political structures of a less complex system through economic contact with a complex state/empire. 2 - The economics of conquest. 3 - Indigenous demographic and settlement pattern changes under colonialism. 4 - The mechanics of empire. 5 - Ideology, indigenous politics and legitimation of the colonial presence. 6 - The fall of empires. The primary focus will be 16th century European expansionism, but comparative attention will be given to the Roman, Incan, Assyrian and Turkish cases. We will also explore the challenge issued by archaeology to ahistorical images of indigenous peoples in Africa, Australia, New Guinea and South America.
ANTHC 426.67 051 / ANTH 751.66
Faunal Analysis or zooarchaeology is one of the largest and most rapidly growing sub-fields of archaeology. Animal bone evidence is central to reconstructing past economies and environments, and plays a key role in current debates about early hominid subsistence, hunting strategies, agricultural origins, and archaeological identification of ethnicity and class. This course presents an entry level, hands-on approach to zooarchae- ology, making use of the Hunter Buiarchaeological Laboratory and the Departmental Computer Lab. This course will provide the basic training you need to either begin a career in faunal analysis or to become a more informed and effective consumer of animal bone evidence.
ANTHP 315.00 051 / ANTH 791.55
The Evolution of Human Nature
It is generally agreed that a study of the origins of human behavioral characteristics must have been closely tied to the evolutionary origins of the other sundry phenetic attributes of the human lineage. Pursuing an evolutionary and comparative perspective, the course examines various aspects of the currently understood biological [including behavioral] transformations. These events are probably tied to changes in survival, social, and reproductive gehaviors from an ancestry somewhat resembling the great apes living today. Particular attention is paid to a] the diversity of conceptual frameworks for examining adaptations and particularly behaviors; b] accounts of those aspects of human natural and sexual selection which may have manifested themselves in phenetic changes from an ancestry shared with one or all of the great apes; c] specific behavior-linked survival and social strategies of individual organisms and groups of these species; d] the ecological background to the evolution which took place; and e] the origins of the human communication system [language included] within the framework of the panoply of human attributes.