Courses

Spring 2019

Religion, Politics, and Power in Africa and the Diaspora
How do religious and spiritual groups and forces exist in dynamic interrelationship with political life and social power across Africa and the diaspora? We study a range of interplays, including those found within slavery and insurgency, post-emancipation struggles, colonial subjection and anti-colonial uprisings, and contemporary postcolonial politics. The course draws upon exemplary case studies that engage anthropology, theology, history, and social theory. The studies illuminate the dynamic allegiances and conflicts among forms of religion and politics, perpetually tracing lines of belonging and exclusion in ever-changing cultural worlds.
Instructors: Lauren Coyle Rosen
Human Adaptation
Human adaptation focuses on human anatomy and behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Lectures and weekly laboratory sessions focus on the evolution of the human brain, dentition and skeleton to provide students with a practical understanding of the anatomy and function of the human body and its evolution, as well as some of its biological limitations. No science background is required on the part of the student.
Instructors: Janet Marie Monge
Brazil-Africa: Critical Perspectives on South-South Networks
This course explores the Brazil-Africa nexus in history and today. It combines perspectives from the social sciences, the humanities and the arts, and focuses on dynamics of exchange, domination and resistance. We will critically examine the place of Brazil and Africa in European imperialism and assess the impact of the South Atlantic slave trade. We will also consider decolonization struggles and solidarities. The course ends with a critique of Brazil's recent venture into the global stage and a reflection on China as an increasingly powerful, potential geopolitical partner for both Brazil and Africa.
Instructors: Miqueias Henrique Mugge
Policing and Militarization Today
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
Medical Anthropology
How might anthropology and the humanities deepen our understanding of disease, healing, and cure? This course explores the cross-cultural significance of medicine and present-day struggles for wellbeing in the U.S. and comparatively. We will interpret illness narratives and medical stories and analyze therapeutic itineraries, health disparities, and caregiving. While attending to human plasticity and the ways biosocial and medical realities shape each other, we will learn ethnographic methods, engage in critical ethical debates, and experiment with modes of expression. Students will develop community-engaged and artistic projects.
Instructors: João Biehl
The Reality Effect: Film and Visual Culture in Anthropology
This course explores visual culture and tools for analyzing and representing culture visually. We will study ethnographic and documentary films alongside ethnographic writings to wrestle with the possibilities of image and text to communicate social life to various audiences. Students will learn to interpret, contextualize, and evaluate a repertoire of work in visual anthropology. Guiding this study is the central question: how does film convey reality, or produce the "effect" of reality? How does that effect compare with what we experience in our everyday lives and what we might access in the lives of others through ethnographic research?
Instructors: Elizabeth Anne Davis
Mesoamerican Art
This course explores the visual and archaeological world of ancient Mesoamerica, from the first arrival of humans in the area until the era of Spanish invasion in the early 16th century. Major culture groups to be considered include Olmec, Maya, and Aztec. Preceptorial sections will consist of a mix of theoretically-focused discussions, debate regarding opposing interpretations in scholarship, and hands-on work with objects in the collections of the Princeton University Art Museum.
Instructors: Bryan R. Just
The Ethnographer's Craft
What are the core approaches of the anthropological method, as well as the distinctive forms of knowledge that they offer? How has ethnography emerged within a broader universe of social scientific approaches? We examine classical methods, their itineraries in multiple ethnographic domains, and their afterlives in the plurality of contemporary anthropology. We examine these techniques with careful attention to their social, political, material and ethical dimensions, as we work to understand the perils and revelatory potentials of ethnography, including the many counterintuitive and creative insights it can offer into our own worlds.
Instructors: Ryo Morimoto
Political Bodies: The Social Anatomy of Power & Difference
Students will learn about the human body in its social, cultural and political contexts. The framing is sociological rather than biomedical, attentive to cultural meanings, institutional practices, politics and social problems. The course explicitly discusses bodies in relation to race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age, health, geography and citizenship status, carefully examining how social differences come to appear natural. Analyzing clinics, prisons, border zones, virtual realities and more, students develop a conceptual toolkit to analyze how society "gets under the skin", producing differential exposure to premature death.
Instructors: Ruha Benjamin
Reproductive Technologies and the Politics of Life
This seminar explores how reproductive technologies are involved in the government of biological and social life. Through readings in medical anthropology, critical social theory, and science and technology studies we will consider how reproductive technologies (both contraceptive and procreative) shape understandings of the body, personhood, modernity and nature, and how practices of biological reproduction are entangled with the social reproduction of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Ethnographic studies include hormonal contraception, assisted conception, abortion, sterilization, stem cell science, adoption, and prenatal screening.
Instructors: Amy Beth Krauss
Roma (Gypsies) in Eastern Europe: The Dynamics of Culture
"Roma (Gypsies) in Eastern Europe" treats Romani history, cultural identity, folklore, music, religion, and representations in literature and film. Roma have been enslaved, targeted for annihilation, and persecuted for centuries. Yet they have repeatedly adapted and adjusted to the circumstances surrounding them, persisting as distinctive ethnic communities while simultaneously contributing to and forming part of the dominant worlds in which they live. This course offers novel perspectives on ethnic minorities and the dynamics of culture in Slavic and East European society.
Instructors: Margaret Hiebert Beissinger
Mind, Body, and Bioethics in Japan and Beyond
The seminar will examine key concepts of the mind, the body, and the nature-culture distinction. We will study these issues in the context of Japanese beliefs about the good society, making connections between "lay culture," Japanese notions of social democracy, and "science culture." Topics include: diagnosis and care of the mentally ill, the politics of disability, notions of human life and death, responses to bio-technology, organ transfer, citizen science, cultural definitions of addiction and co-dependency, and the ethics of human enhancement.
Instructors: Amy Beth Borovoy
Revolt
Talk about revolt and resistance is everywhere. But what do those words mean? In this course we will think about revolt and resistance by focusing on the case of the Middle East in a global context. We will study the "Arab Spring," the history of revolt in the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street, and different perspectives on what revolt and resistance mean. Readings draw on social theory, anthropology, sociology, history and the arts.
Instructors: Julia Elyachar
A River Runs Through Us
This course is an invitation to the ethnographic, artistic, and ecological imagination: we will deploy the tools of ethnography (participant-observation, interview, social theory) and of art (poetry, visual art, installation, film) to document the Millstone River that runs through Princeton's campus. Corralling native and institutional histories, ecology, industry, recreational and activist worlds into conversation, students will conduct interviews with fishermen, activists, and those who rely on river, spend time with the water, and ultimately render the river through an exhibition.
Instructors: Naomi Shira Stone, Jeffrey Whetstone
Speech and Bull
Every culture has norms around speaking and policing speech. This class focuses on what anthropologists call language ideologies and how they legitimate institutional forms such as law, medicine, kinship, and exchange. Rules around language also shape who can speak, how they can speak, and how their speech is received based on identities such as race, gender, sexuality, and/or social status. Students in the course will learn why language is far more than words alone which is why people are able to call out disingenuous speech or BS.
Instructors: Carolyn M. Rouse
Vision and Mystery: Spirits, Fields, Truths
How do people apprehend signs, traces or apparitions that emanate from what we might call the spiritual, sublime or mystical realms? How does "seeing" or otherwise sensing the mysterious register within broader regimes of knowledge, power and truth? This course explores dimensions of key enigmas that transect spirituality, consciousness and fields of vision across cultural and historical settings. It foregrounds anthropological work, but it also draws upon related work in history, philosophy, literature, psychoanalysis and film. Topics include sacrifice, magic, vitality, dreams, presence, temporality, mediums, possession and transcendence.
Instructors: Lauren Coyle Rosen
Ethics in Context: Uses and Abuses of Deception and Disclosure
Stage magic delights us with expert illusions; biomedicine and other fields use deception as a research tool (e.g., placeboes); and everyday politeness may obscure painful truths. With deception and disclosure as springboards, this course explores the contextual complexity of personal and professional ethical judgment, with special but not exclusive attention to knowledge circulation. Topics include: social fictions in daily life across cultures; the tangled histories of science and stage magic; ethically controversial cases from popular culture ("reality" TV, journalism), the arts (fictive memoirs), academia (sharing/plagiarizing), and more.
Instructors: Rena S. Lederman
Gender and Public Health: Disparities, Pathways, and Policies
This seminar begins with a rapid immersion in social scientific work on gender and health, followed by diverse areas in which gendered power relations - between men and women, but also between cis-and queer individuals - shape health. Students will develop a nuanced understanding of how gendered social processes, intersecting with other dimensions of social stratification, shape health at the population level, as well as how gender is reproduced or contested in public health. The overarching goal is to help students learn to think about gender and, by extension, about any form of social stratification, as a driver of population health.
Instructors: Jennifer S. Hirsch
Religion and Culture: Muslims in America
The course is an introduction to Muslim cultures in the US. We will read texts from anthropology, sociology, history and other fields to develop an understanding of the historical and present diversity of Muslim communities in America. The first half provides a survey of Muslim communities in this country from the 17th century onward. The second half is a thematic approach to various topics: 9/11, women and gender, religious conversion, interfaith relations, youth, mosques as institutions, and Islamophobia. In addition to scholarly materials, we will learn from multimedia sources (films, news, cartoons), visitors, and a visit to local mosque.
Instructors: Aly Kassam-Remtulla
Global Mediterranean: Human Encounters and Cultural Exchange
As a cultural ideal and as a modern polity, Greece figures prominently in critical global processes. We will explore the multiple cultural and material exchanges between Greeks--real and imagined--and the world in modern times. We will analyze issues such as the idealization of ancient Greece, the ownership of antiquities, tourism and traveling, urban development and modernity, crisis, borders and human mobility, arts, material cultures, and the human interaction with the sea in Mediterranean and global contexts. The class includes a mandatory spring break trip to Greece for in situ explorations of relevant course themes.
Instructors: Nikolaos Michailidis
Topics in Anthropology: AIDS Across the Americas
As we approach the end of the fourth decade of HIV/AIDS, developments in treatment and prevention are transforming what we know about the epidemic. And while the lives of those living with HIV have improved, the ability to access treatment continues to be shaped by gender, sexuality, race, and class. It appears as though studying the epidemic is not just a question of new technologies or resources, but also the conceptual frameworks we use to understand it. Drawing on transnational and intersectional approaches to peoples and communities across the Americas, this course proposes a hemispheric framework for the cultural analysis of AIDS.
Instructors: Justin Dieter Andres Perez
Topics in the Anthropology of Japan
The course considers ethnographies from postwar to present that attempt to make sense of Japanese society through specific theoretical prisms and historical moments. The course also considers Japan as a site to study pressing social issues of global relevance: including foodways and food culture; aging and longevity; public health, work/life balance, and community environments; and global capital.
Instructors: Amy Beth Borovoy
Postcolonialism without Colony? Marx, Subaltern Studies, and the Question of Orientalism
Subaltern Studies and Postcolonial Studies have shown how critiques of capitalism were based on a provincial account of western history. Postcolonial studies, in turn, was based on analysis of places that were directly colonized. In this course, we will critically read and compare approaches based on Marx, subaltern studies, and orientalism to think about the case of the former Ottoman Empire, which was not colonized. Readings will draw on social theory, political economy, postcolonial studies, critical infrastructure studies, history of the Middle East, and ethnography and are appropriate for students of any region or discipline.
Instructors: Julia Elyachar
Nuclear Things and Toxic Colonization
How do global engagements with nuclear things affect latent colonization in contemporary and future ecologies and generations? How are toxic effects of nuclear things (re)presented through scientific, technological, political or cultural intervention? We explore material, technoscientific, and cultural transmutations of nuclear things (radioisotopes, bombs, medical devices, energy) and the work of (re)making those transmutations (in)visible. The course draws from a variety of theoretical frameworks / case studies in science and technology studies, the social sciences, art and environmental and digital humanities to think with nuclear things.
Instructors: Ryo Morimoto
Visible Evidence: Documentary Film and Data Visualization
In our mediated and datafied world, how can we enhance ethnography by using documentary film to convey lived experiences and data visualization to reveal and make sense of large-scale complexities? To pursue this question, students learn basic methods of filmmaking and data visualization in a workshop setting. As they learn to sculpt video, audio, big data, and geo-spatial data into visible evidence, students compare how the materiality and modes of production of these media shape expressions of ethnographic knowledge. For final projects, students may work with material from their own independent research or begin a new research project.
Instructors: Jeffrey D. Himpele
Disability, Difference, and Race
While diseases are often imagined to be scientific or medical conditions, they are also social constructs. In the 19th century the condition of Dysaesthesia Aethiopis (an ailment that made its sufferers "mischievous") was considered nearly universal among free blacks. Today AIDS and tuberculosis are often associated with personal attributes, while the social forces at work to structure risk for acquiring these illnesses are glossed over. We will examine work from anthropologists, sociologists, historians, queer studies scholars and scientists who work on issues of disability to investigate how people challenge contemporary visions of society.
Instructors: Laurence Ralph
Proseminar in Anthropology
Second term of a year long course on sociocultural anthropology, required for first-year graduate students in anthropology, and open to graduate students in other disciplines with the permission of the instructor. The seminar focuses on debates generated and sustained by contemporary anthropology's engagements with ethnographic fieldwork and writing.
Instructors: John W. Borneman
Field Research Practicum
This seminar alternates reading discussions and workshopping to explore the ethics, politics, and practice of ethnographic fieldwork. It considers questions about evidence, research spaces (e.g., "the field"), researchers' relations with diverse interlocutors, and 'method' itself. Students' local field projects are bases for workshop meetings on participant observation, the interview/conversation distinction, and record-keeping, as well as for critical reflection on credibility claims, scale, subject position, representation/reception, improvisation and collaboration in ethnographic practice in anthropology and neighboring disciplines.
Instructors: Rena S. Lederman

Course Offerings

Prior Semesters

Taught by Anthropology faculty:
Freshman Seminars 
Summer Courses 

Anthropology courses:
2018-2019 Fall / Spring
2017-2018 Fall / Spring
2016-2017 Fall / Spring
2015-2016 Fall / Spring
2014-2015 Fall / Spring
2013-2014 Fall / Spring
2012-2013 Fall / Spring