This course provides an introduction to core anthropological modes of inquiry into being human across space and time. Engaging key concepts of culture as lenses on contemporary phenomena, we will explore universalism and variation across societies. How do communities express difference and identity, make meaning, transmit knowledge, circulate objects and power, live, love, wish and dream? Case-studies vary, from women's piety movements in Cairo to the role of mosquitos, germs, and machines in making lives and worlds. We will also consider anthropology's colonial origins, examining intersections between knowledge and domination.
Introduction to Anthropology
Instructors: Naomi Shira Stone
Introduction to Global LGBTQ Studies
This course provides an interdisciplinary and transnational introduction to the study of LGBTQ lives. We address the historical emergence of LGBTQ identities and survey how these identities are experienced among different communities around the world. Through global case studies, we examine key concepts and debates in the field, including intersectionality, human rights, homonationalism, normativity, and medicalization. We analyze how LGBTQ works as a meaningful social, political, and historical category and the ways class, race, gender, and nationality intersect with and disrupt it.
Religion, Ideology, and Media
This course explores how media shapes cultural and social identities. From televangelism to political talk radio, the mass marketing of faith and political ideologies is contributing to how people understand themselves as gendered, raced, and classed subjects. But are these programs helping to sustain a fragile consensus within our nation-state, or is this media threatening radical disunity? This course examines what is at stake culturally in this religious and ideological war of symbols generated within mediascapes.
Instructors: Carolyn M. Rouse
Introduction to Dance Across Cultures
Bharatanatyam, butoh, hip hop, and salsa are some of the dances that will have us travel from temples and courtyards to clubs, streets, and stages around the world. Through studio sessions, readings and viewings, field research, and discussions, this seminar will introduce students to dance across cultures with special attention to issues of migration, cultural appropriation, gender and sexuality, and spiritual and religious expression. Students will also learn basic elements of participant observation research. Guest artists will teach different dance forms. No prior dance experience is necessary.
Instructors: Judith Hamera
Japanese Society and Culture
During the decades after World War II, Japan became the world's second largest economy and a highly productive, technologized society. While Americans once regarded Japan as a land of "corporate warriors," today Japan has become known for its popular culture, critiques of environmental destruction, and gentler variety of capitalism. We explore key social issues including gender, labor, affect, sports, media, poplular culture, biopolitics, law, demography and population control.
Instructors: Amy Beth Borovoy
Average credit card debt of Americans is $16,000; average college loan debt $30,000. How and why do people go into debt? Why is debt negatively linked to "usury" in some cultures while in others not having debt is a mark of being "underleveraged"? How can "debt" sometimes be an instrument of social solidarity and other times be a source of social discord? In this course we will draw on history, political theory, economics, and anthropology to look at debates about "debt" in different places and times as diverse as 4th century Greece, 18th century England, 19th century Egypt, and the 2008 Financial Crisis and its aftermath around the world.
Instructors: Julia Elyachar
Social Lives, Social Forces
This seminar takes up the connection between authority and obligation as a cultural question. We draw on diverse sources (anthropology, case studies, social theory, literature, public documents, art, etc.) to probe conceptual and real-life gray zones between individual and community, liberty and constraint, state and private sector. We consider formal and informal institutions (e.g., courts, legislatures, police, workplaces, families) and a range of formal and informal norms (from court rulings to common sense). Authority and obligation emerge as complex social relations that shape and are shaped within and across cultural contexts.
Instructors: Carol Jane Greenhouse
Ethnography, Evidence and Experience
This course connects ethnographic theory (e.g., about culture, relationality, context, and interpretation) to everyday experience and vice versa. Readings from academic and media sources align with weekly journal writing to cultivate students' ethnographic awareness of their own and others' embodied knowledge and the ethics, politics, and ritual dimensions of relationships, language, and more. Throughout we scrutinize how "experience" becomes ethnographic "evidence" and how the immediacies of participant-observation fieldwork bear on wide-angle questions about power/value hierarchies, historical and cultural context, and societal dynamics.
Instructors: Rena S. Lederman
Ethnography, Evidence and Experience
This course connects ethnographic theory (e.g., about culture, relationality, context, and interpretation) to everyday experience and vice versa. Readings from academic and media sources align with weekly journal writing to cultivate students' ethnographic awareness of their own and others' embodied knowledge and the ethics, politics, and ritual dimensions of relationships, language, and more. Throughout we scrutinize how "experience" becomes ethnographic "evidence" and how the immediacies of participant-observation fieldwork bear on wide-angle questions about power/value hierarchies, historical and cultural contexts, and societal dynamics.
Instructors: John W. Borneman, Rena S. Lederman
Forensic Anthropology and Epigenetics in Urban America
Forensic anthropology involves medico-legal cases where human remains have lost "personhood" (an individual cannot be identified due to decomposition or destruction of unique personal features). We will explore techniques of analysis that biological anthropologists apply to forensic cases. We will blend the sub-disciplines of social and biological anthropology by tracing the intertwined physiological and social factors that shape human variation and life experience in an urban setting. We weigh and consider epigenetic mechanisms by which external variables may bring about heritable molecular changes in the expression of genetic phenotypes.
Instructors: Jeffrey D. Himpele, Janet Marie Monge