Courses

Fall 2021

Introduction to Anthropology
This course is an introduction to anthropology and key topics in becoming and being human. Anthropology looks at the human experience through diverse lenses integrating biology, ecology, language, history, philosophy, and the day to day lives of peoples from across the globe. Anthropology has things to say about being human, it seeks to make the familiar a bit strange and the strange quite familiar. We will take critical reflexive and reflective approaches in asking about key aspects of being human (like war/peace, race/racism, sex/gender, childhood/parenting, religion and the human imagination, and human relations to other species).
Instructors: Agustin Fuentes
Catastrophes across Cultures: The Anthropology of Disaster
What is the relationship between "catastrophe" and human beings, and how has "catastrophe" influenced the way we live in the world now? This course investigates various types of catastrophes/disasters around the world by mobilizing a variety of theoretical frameworks and case studies in the social sciences. The course uses an anthropological perspective as its principal lens to comparatively observe often forgotten historical calamities throughout the world. The course is designed to explore the intersection between catastrophe and culture and how catastrophic events can be a window through which to critically analyze society and vice versa.
Instructors: Ryo Morimoto
#BlackLivesMatter
This seminar traces the historical roots and growth of the Black Lives Matter social movement in the United States and comparative global contexts. The movement and course are committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies. The course seeks to document the forms of dispossession that Black Americans face, and offers a critical examination of the prison industrial complex, police brutality, urban poverty, and white supremacy in the US.
Instructors: Hanna Garth
Ethnography, Evidence and Experience
This course wonders over ethnography as a mode of anthropological attunement, asking, and dreaming. Across a range of ethnographic approaches, it tracks the specific commitments and experiments through which anthropological thinkers pose questions. It considers the affordances, limitations, and possibilities of anthropological work as fundamentally open-ended political, conceptual, and ethical project. We will continuously return to the human of anthropology, its anthropos, as a set of horizons and projects. Topics include universalism and particularity, experience and epistemology, anti-racism, and more-than-human ethnography.
Instructors: Mark Drury, Jerry C. Zee
Political Anthropology
Through a combination of classic and contemporary anthropological readings, this course considers how anthropologists locate "the political" and study it ethnographically. Drawing upon anthropological theory and ethnographic study, the course examines the ways in which social groups enact, contest, reproduce and transform power relations in different contexts. The course begins by introducing classic anthropological studies, followed by ethnographies that analyze the dynamics between nation and state. The final half of the course studies emergent political formations and power relations under a changing global political order.
Instructors: Mark Drury
The Anthropology of Development
Why do development projects fail? This course examines why well-meaning development experts get it wrong. It looks closely at what anthropologists mean by culture and why most development experts fail to attend to the cultural forces that hold communities together. By examining development projects from South Asia to the United States, students learn the relevance of exchange relations, genealogies, power, religion, and indigenous law. This semester the class will focus on energy in Africa.
Instructors: Carolyn M. Rouse
Language, Identity, Power
Language determines our expressive capacities, represents our identities, and connects us across various platforms and cultures. This course introduces classical and contemporary approaches to studying language, focusing on three main areas: 1) language as a system of rules (structure), 2) language as a symbolic mechanism through which individuals and groups mark their presence (identity) and 3) language as a tool of communication (sign). The course examines various ways through which language molds our individual selves in cultures from Africa to the Americas to Asia to Europe: from organizing dreams and desires to shaping autobiographies.
Instructors: Serguei Alex. Oushakine
Reckoning: Complicated Histories and Collective Identities
How do we grapple with complicated, violent, and disavowed aspects of our collective histories in contemporary society? This class takes as its central issue how societies chose (or not) to reckon with, redress, and repair their difficult pasts. This course will challenge students to take on the difficult work of grappling with violent and otherwise negative pasts through the cultural media of memorial, monument, museum, and collaborative heritage practice. See "Other Information" below about a possible Break Trip to a memorial to the victims of racial terrorism in the U.S. South, located in Montgomery, Alabama.
Instructors: Tiffany Cherelle (Cain) Fryer
Queer Becomings
The goal of this course is to understand what queer lifeworlds are like in diverse cultural and sociopolitical contexts. What is the relationship between queerness and larger forces such as culture, coloniality, global capitalism, religion, and the state? What counts as queer and whose recognition matters? What is the nature of the work of becoming that is involved, and what resources do they draw upon in doing so? What factors enable or curtail these possibilities? Is queer always radical and against the norm? We will answer such questions by reading ethnographies, theories, and biographies that focus on queer lifeworlds across the world.
Instructors: Aniruddhan Vasudevan
Anthropologies of Climate and Change
This course explores the weather as a massively consequential complex of environmental, geophysical, political, social, engineering, and spatial processes. We think through the tensions of contemporary climate and change as sites through which political strategies, social theory, and the toolkits of humanistic anthropological thinking are reconfigured. And we explore climate as a keyword to consider nihilism, hope, new and old fantasies of engineering, and unexpected imaginaries of planetary resilience or collapse. Topics include climate change, policing, geo-engineering, climate militarism.
Instructors: Jerry C. Zee
History of Anthropological Theory
This course begins with a discussion of the current state of affairs in anthropological theory to ask what lines of thought got us to where we are today. This includes situating anthropological theory within the context of social and political theory and seeing how post-structuralism, post-colonial theory, black studies, and feminism reshaped the discipline in a variety of ways. Throughout will aim to give students sharper tools to utilize the analytic power of theory to consider problematics of the field of anthropology writ large today, and to mobilize in the writing of the independent work in anthropology.
Instructors: Julia Elyachar
We Were Never Alone: Multispecies Ecologies in the Anthropocene
Humans have always been in multispecies relationships---to study the human effectively we need to recognize this. We will lay out the core theoretical and methodological frameworks for engaging in anthropologically centered multispecies approaches to the human. We will familiarize ourselves with relationships in the Anthropocene, pushing against (and/or reconceptualizing) nature/culture and human/nonhuman boundaries. Foregrounding anthropological perspectives in the discourse on multispecies we center the ethnographic and ecological and decenter assumptions that run through much majority mythos and perspectives on human-other entanglements.
Instructors: Agustin Fuentes
Rituals of Governing
The spiritual and the sacred hold enduring significance across many realms of political and social life. Anthropological studies productively unsettle standard assumptions in many aspects of conventional thought, which often presume the declining importance of religion and spirituality in political life. This course draws upon classic and contemporary anthropological works on a range of topics concerning cultures of governing, including ritual theory, divine rule, stranger-kings, mysticism and magic, spirituality and embodiment, and law. Secondarily, the course engages materials from film, psychoanalysis, literature, and critical theory.
Instructors: Lauren Coyle Rosen
Visible Evidence: Documentary Film and Data Visualization
In a mediated and datafied world, how can anthropologists use documentary film and data visualization to engage and convey lived experiences as well as to reveal and make sense of wide-ranging complexities? We pursue this dual question through critical readings and weekly hands-on workshops on documentary styles, shooting, and editing and on data collection, visualization, and mapping. In a final project, we push our initial question about visual evidence further by experimenting with methods for bringing together video and data into a single frame in an ethnography around a selected topic.
Instructors: Jeffrey D. Himpele
Proseminar in Anthropology
First term of a year-long course on sociocultural anthropology, required of first-year graduate students in anthropology and open to graduate students from other disciplines with the permission of the instructor. The seminar focuses on innovations in anthropological theorizing through writings that have historically shaped the field or revealed its shape as a distinctive discipline.
Instructors: Lauren Coyle Rosen
Co-seminar in Anthropology (Half-Term): Insurgent Archivings: On the Sentient, the Storied and the Yet To Come
Does the weight of history offset the plasticity of people and power? How do the historical and the unhistorical come together in refiguring social life and futurity? The seminar takes on these vital debates to 1) trouble commonsensical understandings of the archive as expressing a solid past that overdetermines the present and to 2) open pathways for an anthropology of the accidental, the sentient, and the yet to come. Attuned to diverse ethnographic sensoria and dissenting storytelling, we probe the political stakes of decolonizing archives and seek to nurture the traces of alternative visions that people mark out day-to-day.
Instructors: João Biehl
Co-seminar in Anthropology (Half-Term): An Integrative Anthropology of BioCulture
The "biocultural" turn in anthropological engagement has deep roots and significant diversity in theory and method. Rather than envisioning an interface between biology and culture, the anthropological possibility offers an integrative approach to human becomings wherein bodies, genes and neurobiologies are ubiquitously entangled and co-constituted with belief, behavior, society and lived experience. In this course we survey key aspects of such dynamic assemblages emphasizing what we might liberally call "biocultural" theory and method, and seeking points of connection with a broader anthropological discourse and practice.
Instructors: Agustin Fuentes
Japanese Society and Culture
Japan became the first non-Western nation to industrialize and modernize in the late 19th century, determined to fend off foreign invasion. Decades later, Japan challenged Americans to imagine alternative futures through its economic success and later its "soft power." The course will consider change and continuity in Japan and how Japan's current status as a stable, slowly growing economy informs our views of capitalism and society in the current era. Topics include gender, labor, and corporate welfare; youth socialization; marriage and divorce; race, "Japaneseness" and citizenship; diasporic identities; sub-cultures and popular culture.
Instructors: Amy Beth Borovoy
Critical Perspectives in Global Health
Global health brings together a vast array of actors addressing urgent health and environmental issues with unprecedented financial and technological resources. The course is a critical analysis of the social, political, and economic processes underlying this expanding medical and humanitarian field. As we scrutinize the design, evidence-making practices and values shaping global health, we will place interventions in historical perspective, gauge their impact, and explore new paradigms in-the-making. Students are encouraged to find new, collaborative ways to understand and act in and through the field of global health.
Instructors: Sebastian Ramirez Hernandez
Political Natures: The Politics of Nature and Development in Latin America
Popular imaginaries depict Latin America as both brimming with pristine nature and afflicted with devastating environmental degradation. This lecture explores Latin American nature as an ecological, political and cultural creation, asking: Where do these imaginaries of pristine/despoiled nature come from? How are they used, perpetuated or debunked by scientists, Indigenous peoples, politicians and NGOs? We apply these questions to an array of environmental issues, including climate change, deforestation and ecotourism, to analyze the effects of these imaginaries on people's lived experiences of nature, conservation and economic development.
Instructors: Marian Ahn Thorpe
Battling Borders in the Americas
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?
Muertos: Art and Mortality in Mexico
For two millennia, the peoples of Mexico have lived in close proximity with the dead. When in the 16th century uninvited Europeans arrived in Tenochtitlan, today Mexico City, offering a path to "eternal life", Mexicans were decidedly uninterested. In this course, students will journey down the road to Mictlan, the watery Mexican underworld, to learn from artworks an ancient, alternate approach to understanding the social construction of death. Three quarters of the course will consider arts of the Native pre-Hispanic context, with equal time dedicated to Teotihuacan, the Maya, and the Mexica ("Aztecs").
Multispecies Worlding and Global Health Politics
This course focuses on the politics of health, environment, interspecies relations, and scientific/biomedical interventions in Latin America. We examine pandemics, diseases, and other public health concerns through the lens of interspecies/multispecies entanglements to analyze the ongoing effects of ecological and environmental changes in the Latin American region and the practices of world-making that drive new imaginings and becomings of natureculture. We analyze the rise of global health and examine the role of experts and recent projects of securitization, containment, and biotechnological control.
Secularism
This course introduces students to classic and recent theoretical debates about secularism and secularization. We will consider a range of historical-ethnographic examples, focusing particularly on the limits of secularism in its modern encounter with Islam and Muslim communities in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America. By comparing the realities of everyday life in a variety of national contexts, we will ask what secularism offers as a human way of experiencing the world, a mode of legitimating norms and constructing authority, and a method of telling stories and creating myths about human values and historical progress.
Instructors: Satyel Larson

Graduate Courses

Fall 2021

Proseminar in Anthropology
First term of a year-long course on sociocultural anthropology, required of first-year graduate students in anthropology and open to graduate students from other disciplines with the permission of the instructor. The seminar focuses on innovations in anthropological theorizing through writings that have historically shaped the field or revealed its shape as a distinctive discipline.
Instructors: Lauren Coyle Rosen
Co-seminar in Anthropology (Half-Term): Insurgent Archivings: On the Sentient, the Storied and the Yet To Come
Does the weight of history offset the plasticity of people and power? How do the historical and the unhistorical come together in refiguring social life and futurity? The seminar takes on these vital debates to 1) trouble commonsensical understandings of the archive as expressing a solid past that overdetermines the present and to 2) open pathways for an anthropology of the accidental, the sentient, and the yet to come. Attuned to diverse ethnographic sensoria and dissenting storytelling, we probe the political stakes of decolonizing archives and seek to nurture the traces of alternative visions that people mark out day-to-day.
Instructors: João Biehl
Co-seminar in Anthropology (Half-Term): An Integrative Anthropology of BioCulture
The "biocultural" turn in anthropological engagement has deep roots and significant diversity in theory and method. Rather than envisioning an interface between biology and culture, the anthropological possibility offers an integrative approach to human becomings wherein bodies, genes and neurobiologies are ubiquitously entangled and co-constituted with belief, behavior, society and lived experience. In this course we survey key aspects of such dynamic assemblages emphasizing what we might liberally call "biocultural" theory and method, and seeking points of connection with a broader anthropological discourse and practice.
Instructors: Agustin Fuentes

Note

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

Course Offerings

Pre-approved electives for ANT tracks
Registrar's site

Taught by Anthropology faculty:
Freshman Seminars 
Summer Courses