Courses

Freshman Seminar

Planet Amazonia: Engaging Indigenous Ecologies of Knowledges (CD)

Amazonia is a planetary hotspot of biocultural diversity and a massive carbon sink on the brink. The seminar explores how Indigenous knowledges and the environment co-produce one another and considers the significance of forest-making practices for conservation science and climate change mobilization. Drawing from historical, ethnographic, and ecological studies, Planet Amazonia is a platform for alternative storytelling and future-making agendas based on new scholarly and activist alliances. Students will engage with Indigenous scholars and environmental activists and will craft alternative visions to safeguard this vital planetary nexus.

Instructors
Carlos Fausto
Miqueias H. Mugge

Spring 2023 - Undergraduate

Economic Life in Cultural Context (SA)
Subject associations
ANT 203

This course explores the social and cultural contexts of economic experience in the US and around the world. It considers how the consumption, production, and circulation of goods--today and in times past--become invested with personal and collective meanings. It pays special attention to symbolic and political dimensions of work, property (material, intellectual, and cultural), wealth, and taste (i.e., "needs" and "wants"). Additionally, participants do a bit of anthropological fieldwork by drawing everyday experiences systematically into conversation with more familiar academic and media sources.

Instructors
Rena S. Lederman
Human Evolution (EC)
Subject associations
ANT 206 / AFS 206

Humans have a deep history, one that informs our contemporary reality. Understanding our evolutionary history is understanding both what we have in common with other primates and other hominins, and what happened over the last 7 to 10 million years since our divergence from the other African ape lineages. More specifically, the story of the human is centered in what happened in the ~2.5 million year history of our own genus (Homo). This class outlines the history of our lineage and offers an anthropological and evolutionary explanation for what this all means for humans today, and why we should care. See "Other Information" about Spring 2023.

Instructors
Agustin Fuentes
Anthropology and Environment (CD or EM)
Subject associations
ANT 214 / ENV 214

This course explores anthropology's engagement with environmental questions, beyond binaries of "nature" and "culture." How do anthropologists' engagement with environment force rethinking of both the given terms of environmental politics and the anthropocentrism of "anthropology"? We explore, across international and global contexts, how anthropological work challenges contemporary environmental thinking, all while exploring new formulations of environment and politics. Topics include climate, materiality, cosmologies, more-than-human ethnography, and environmental justice.

Instructors
Jerry C. Zee
Anthropology of Religion: Fetishism and Decolonization (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 217 / GSS 230

What does the anthropology of religion teach us about construction of identity or the ethics and politics of difference? This course introduces students to the anthropology of religion and a key debate of the field on the fetish. Students will learn about the colonial history of the study of religion and the role of fetishism therein. They will gain the tools to critically intervene in ongoing conversations about race, sexuality, cultural difference, and decolonization by becoming familiar with debates on fetishism in anthropology, critical theory, and Black and queer studies.

Instructors
Milad Odabaei
Policing and Militarization Today (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 223 / AMS 223 / AAS 224 / URB 224

This class aims to explore transnational issues in policing. Drawing heavily upon anthropological methods and theory, we aim neither to vindicate nor contest the police's right to use force (whether a particular instance was a violation of law), but instead, to contribute to the understanding of force (its forms, justifications, interpretations). The innovative transnational approach to policing developed during the semester will allow for a cross-cultural comparative analysis that explores larger rubrics of policing in a comprehensive social scientific framework. We hope that you are ready to explore these exciting and urgent issues with us.

Instructors
Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús
Laurence Ralph
Human, Machine, and In-Between: The Anthropology of AI (CD)
Subject associations
ANT 238

We're surrounded by narratives that AI (artificial intelligence) is rapidly learning, listening, coding, calculating, and altogether acting more like (or better than) humans. But what does it mean to be human? Which "actual" humans do "artificially" intelligent agents mimic or resemble? We will consider such questions through the lens of anthropology, a discipline dedicated to tracking the ever-changing definitions of being human. By reading and creating alternative stories about AI, we explore how race, citizenship, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, class, labor, environment and empire fundamentally shape human-machine borders.

Instructors
Beth Semel
Medical Anthropology (CD or EM)
Subject associations
ANT 240 / HUM 240

Medical Anthropology explores how structural violence and the social markers of difference impact life chances in our worlds on edge. While addressing biosocial and therapeutic realities and probing the tenets of medical capitalism, the course articulates theoretical and practical contributions to apprehending health as both a struggle against death and a human right. We will learn ethnographic methods, engage in critical ethical debates, and experiment with modes of expression. Students will develop community-engaged and artistic projects and consider alternative forms of solidarity and care emerging alongside newfangled scales of harm.

Instructors
Sebastian Ramirez Hernandez
Nuclear Princeton: An Indigenous Approach to Science, Technology and the Environment (CD or EC)
Subject associations
ANT 245 / ENV 245 / AMS 245

How do we grapple with the lasting, unintended impacts of science, engineering and medicine in "the nation's service and the service of humanity"? What lessons can we learn from the past to conduct morally sound research and generate culturally inclusive knowledge? We explore perspectives from indigenous studies to approach the intersection of Princeton's history, nuclear science, settler colonialism and environmental racism to collectively imagine a more holistic and inclusive approach to studying science, technology and the environment. Students will conduct original research that draws from and contributes to the Nuclear Princeton project.

Instructors
Ryo Morimoto
The Ethnographer's Craft (SA)
Subject associations
ANT 301

This course is an introduction to doing ethnographic fieldwork. Class sessions alternate between discussions of key issues and questions in the theory and practice of ethnographic fieldwork and workshops devoted to fieldwork exercises: participant observation, interviewing, fieldnotes, oral history, multi-modal and virtual ethnographic methods; as well as debates over research ethics and regulatory ethics. Students will build skills to design and conduct ethnographic research projects, while developing a critical appreciation of the possibilities and limits of ethnographic research methods to help them understand and engage with the world.

Instructors
Elizabeth A. Davis
Sebastian Ramirez Hernandez
Empires of Debt (HA or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 308

Refusal of a debt, said anthropologist Marcel Mauss, was a declaration of war. Debt, politics, violence, and power have always been intertangled. Empires long used debt to maintain power and trade across Africa and the Middle East. Debt was later seen as a "trap" for many postcolonial states. In the United States, debt crises are entangled with legacies of enslavement and internal colonialism. In this course, students will analyze the role of debt in their lives by drawing on history, economics, literature, film and, of course, anthropology.

Instructors
Julia Elyachar
Food, Culture & Society (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 311

This course explores the central role of food in everyday life in US and global contexts. Using a comparative global perspective, we will address key questions about histories of food production and consumption, the ways in which food production and distribution differentially affect the lives of those working in the food industry and those consuming food. We will think through how global shifts in food production and distribution impact human lives on national, local, and familial levels.

Instructors
Hanna Garth
Asian American Perils: Virus, Vermin, Machine (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 316 / ASA 315

This course works through Asian American writings, criticism, ethnography, and cultural production, to explore the persistent identification of Asian American people with nonhuman, disembodied, and dangerous entities. It explores both how Asian American racialization has developed in tandem with figures of contagion, animality, and machinery that undergird and pre-figure the explosion of Covid-era anti-Asian hate crimes; and also how Asian American and other thinkers, ethnographers, and artists chart spaces outside of conventional human-ness through reappropriation of non-human and dehumanizing tropes.

Instructors
Jerry C. Zee
Masculinities (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 344 / GSS 419

What does it mean to be a man? Or to act like a man? By calling attention to the gendered identities/practices of men-as-men, scholars of masculinities have given diverse responses to these questions across time and space. We draw on anthropology, history, critical theory, gender studies, and media to explore the processes and relationships by which men craft gendered lives. Rather than defining masculinity as biological trait or fixed object, we examine how men's life stories and prospects are shaped by social scripts, political-economic forces, labor regimes, and ethical norms.

Instructors
Onur Gunay
How We Talk: Linguistic Anthropology Methods and Theories (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 352 / LIN 352

This course provides a hands-on introduction to the methods and theories of linguistic anthropology, a sub-field devoted to the study of language and interaction in sociocultural and political processes. We will consider language as more than a neutral conduit for exchanging information or expressing ideas. Through readings and data gathering and analysis exercises, we will explore language as a resource and a factor that shapes and is shaped by our experiences, identities, relationships with and perception of the world and the people around us. Major themes include race, citizenship, gender, disability, and interpretation and power.

Instructors
Beth Semel
Language, Expressivity, and Power (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 357 / HUM 354 / TRA 356

This course explores what we do with language and other modes of expression and how these modes shape our communicative capacities. Why do we gossip? How do we decide what communication is appropriate face-to-face or via text or email? What informs our beliefs about civility and obscenity? How do we decide what credible speech is? What happens when a culturally rooted expressive form (say, a dance) is taken up by people elsewhere for other aesthetic and political ends? We will explore such questions by studying theories and ethnographies of a range of phenomena: love-letters, gossip, poetry, asylum appeals, spoken word, and more.

Instructors
Aniruddhan Vasudevan
Race and Medicine (CD or EM)
Subject associations
ANT 403 / AAS 403 / GHP 403

Why do certain populations have longer life expectancies? Is it behavior, genes, structural inequalities? And why should the government care? This course unpacks taken-for-granted concepts like race, evidence-based medicine, and even the public health focus on equalizing life expectancies. From questions of racism in the clinic to citizenship and the Affordable Care Act, 'Race and Medicine' takes students on a journey of rethinking what constitutes social justice in health care.

Instructors
Carolyn M. Rouse
Labors of Consciousness: Culture, Capital, Moral Economy (SA)
Subject associations
ANT 417

How have the modes and meanings of labor transformed across time and place? What are some of the key interplays among labor, politics, subjectivity, religion, and sociality? How do social or cultural dimensions inflect, refract, or otherwise help to fashion the forms and meanings of labor? This course draws upon key works in anthropology, history, and social theory. It considers central topics that illuminate cultures of labor, including ideology, hegemony, dialectics, moral economy, habitus, enslavement, resistance, class, discipline, capital, post-industrialization, casualization, virtualization, and revolution.

Instructors
Lauren Coyle Rosen
Theory from the Margins: Post- and Decolonial Theory In And Out of Anthropology (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 436 / HUM 436

Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1949-2012) argued that «theory is done at the center; color comes from the margin.» Anthropology offers knowledge and insights into the lived worlds of humanity at large. Calls to «decolonize anthropology» are by no means new. But anthropology continues to be a discipline dominated by Western scholars and institutions, and overwhelmingly white. This course will offer an introduction to post- and de-colonial literature and scholarship, and important scholars of and from the `Global South', and/or of indigenous or racialized minority background from the `Global North.'

Instructors
Sindre Bangstad
Olmec Art (LA)
Subject associations
ART 365 / LAS 370 / ANT 365

This course surveys Olmec and related material culture spanning roughly 2000-500 B.C., including architecture and monumental sculpture, ceramic vessels and figurines, and exquisite small-scale sculpture in jade and other precious materials. Of central theoretical importance is the question of how we understand and interpret art from a distant past, especially without the aid of contemporaneous written records. We will focus on original works of art, including works in the Princeton University Art Museum and in regional collections. Issues of authenticity, quality, and provenance related to these works will also be considered.

Instructors
Bryan R. Just
Traditions, Tales, and Tunes: Slavic and East European Folklore (LA)
Subject associations
COM 236 / SLA 236 / ANT 383

This course explores oral traditions and oral literary genres (in English translation) of the Slavic and East European world, both past and present, including traditions that draw from the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish East European communities. Topics include traditional rituals (life-cycle and seasonal) and folklore associated with them, sung and spoken oral traditional narrative: poetry (epic and ballad) and prose (folktale and legend), and contemporary forms of traditional and popular culture. Discussion and analysis will focus on the role and meaning of Slavic and East European oral traditions as forms of expressive culture.

Instructors
Margaret H. Beissinger
Mind, Body, and Bioethics in Japan and Beyond (EM)
Subject associations
EAS 312 / ANT 312

The course addresses ethical issues in medicine, health, and health care. How are medicine and ethics shaped by cultural beliefs and social institutions? Topics include: mental illness and care; the politics of disability; notions of life and death; organ transfer; end-of-life care; citizen science; reproductive technologies; prognosis and disclosure; alcoholism and co-dependency; and health care allocation. The course explores the relationship of health care to other forms of social care (such as the family).

Instructors
Amy B. Borovoy
Planet Amazonia: Engaging Indigenous Ecologies of Knowledges (CD)
Subject associations
FRS 141

Amazonia is a planetary hotspot of biocultural diversity and a massive carbon sink on the brink. The seminar explores how Indigenous knowledges and the environment co-produce one another and considers the significance of forest-making practices for conservation science and climate change mobilization. Drawing from historical, ethnographic, and ecological studies, Planet Amazonia is a platform for alternative storytelling and future-making agendas based on new scholarly and activist alliances. Students will engage with Indigenous scholars and environmental activists and will craft alternative visions to safeguard this vital planetary nexus.

Instructors
Carlos Fausto
Miqueias H. Mugge
Battling Borders in the Americas (CD or SA)
Subject associations
LAS 324 / ANT 324

In this course we will study borders, literal and imagined, and those who contest and enforce them. From internal, invisible gang borders in Central America, to the externalization of the US border, to barriers to belonging, we will look at movements that challenge borders (migrant caravans, immigrants' rights activism, coyote networks) and the enforcers of borders (the regional migration regime, the asylum system, and non-state actors who police mobility.) Tying together migration, deportation, and resistance, this course asks: how are borders maintained? What does transgressing them mean for those in power and for those who do the crossing?

Instructors
Amelia Frank-Vitale

Spring 2023 - Graduate Courses

Proseminar in Anthropology
Subject associations
ANT 502

This is the second half of a yearlong seminar required for first-year graduate students in Sociocultural Anthropology. The course focuses on anthropology's engagement with critical theory, ethnography, and writing. While reading key texts in the discipline, we reflect on how anthropologists transition from their fieldwork to theorizing, and from their ethnography to text and public engagement. Throughout, we attend to the ways ethnographic subjects become alternative figures of thought, redirecting our modes of expression and restoring movement to ethical and political debates.

Instructors
João Biehl
Advanced Topics in Anthropology (Half-Term): A Guess at the Riddle: Ethnography, Abduction, and Ecologies of Signs
Subject associations
ANT 504A

This seminar is a multidisciplinary study of the theory and technique of semiotic analysis of social, cultural, material, technological, affective, and ecological phenomena. The course explores pragmatic applications of semiotics (e.g., semiosis, abduction, and diagrammatic thinking) in ethnographic theorizing. The course offers toolkits for the students to explore the messiness of social, material, affective, and more-than-human lives, environments and abiotic factors, and the complex inter-actions of signs in and through society. The students learn to apply semiotics and experiment with its potential for designing their research projects.

Instructors
Ryo Morimoto
Advanced Topics in Anthropology (Half-Term): Economic Anthropology
Subject associations
ANT 504B

In this course, we read classic texts in economic anthropology against recent ethnographies of markets, commons, and neoliberalism to shed light on emergent issues in anthropology of the economic. Situating econ anthro in broader debates in political economy and social theory, we ask what remains of import in earlier debates and what matters now. We cover the debates around Karl Polanyi's substantivist approach, Marxist and feminist economic anthropology, new approaches to markets after Latour, and more. Each week we read theory together with ethnography or fiction.

Instructors
Julia Elyachar
Field Research Practicum
Subject associations
ANT 505

A practice-based introduction to ethnographic fieldwork. Students experiment with participant-observation, interviewing and conversation, taking and interpreting fieldnotes, oral and life histories, multi-modal and virtual ethnography, archival research. These methods are explored in light of ethical, political, and epistemological stakes of ethnographic research: the space of "the field," identity and identification, privacy and anonymity, regulatory ethics, collaboration, advocacy. Students design and conduct a research project while developing a critical appreciation of the possibilities and limits of ethnographic research.

Instructors
Elizabeth A. Davis
Topics in Theory and Practice of Anthropology (Half-Term): Indigenous Cosmopolitics: Perspectivism in the Anthropocene
Subject associations
ANT 522A / SPA 522 / LAS 522

How can we understand and interact with other ways of thinking? What other ideas of a world emerge when animals, humans and plants are persons among whom relations are properly social? How can these new ideas lead to creative and engaged actions in the face of the Anthropocene? Indigenous Cosmopolitics reflects on these questions by taking the concept of cosmopolitics as background for the reading of ethnographies based on the socio-cosmological perspectives of western and beyond-western peoples, with emphasis on studies of Amazonian Indigenous peoples and their perspectivist ontologies.

The Quest for Health: Contemporary Debates on Harm, Medicine, and Ethics
Subject associations
EAS 548 / ANT 548

The course explores issues in medicine and global health with a focus on ethics. We address both ethics in the context of clinical decision-making and also the social, cultural, and economic "ethical field" of health care. Ever-expanding technological possibilities re-shape our social lives, extending them, giving greater control but taking it away. Treatments such as living donor organ transplantation, stem cell therapies, and physician-assisted suicide transform our understandings of life, death and what we expect from one another. Technologies such as glucometers bring new inequalities.

Instructors
Amy B. Borovoy

Note

Please note that 400 level undergraduate courses are also eligible for graduate enrollment.