Undergraduate Courses Fall term 2016


                                                                Sociocultural Anthropology
                                                                  Physical Anthropology


Sociocultural Anthropology

Please refer to the online directory of courses for times and classroom locations http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/

Registration Dates for fall 2016

Academic Calendar

ANTH V1002x The Interpretation of Culture 3 pts. Sarah Muir.  The anthropological approach to the study of culture and human society. Case studies from ethnography are used in exploring the universality of cultural categories (social organization, economy, law, belief system, art, etc.) and the range of variation among human societies

ANTH V1009x Introduction to Language and Culture 3 pts. ITBA. This is an introduction to the study of the production, interpretation, and reproduction of social meanings as expressed through language. In exploring language in relation to culture and society, it focuses on how communication informs and transforms the sociocultural environment.

ANTH V2004x Introduction to Social and Cultural Theory 3 pts. John Pemberton. Introduces students to crucial theories of society, paying particular attention to classic social theory of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Traces a trajectory through writings essential for an understanding of the social: from Saussure, Durkheim, Mauss, Marx, Freud, and Weber, on to the structuralist ethnographic elaboration of Claude Levi-Strauss, the historiographic reflections on modernity of Michel Foucault, and contemporary modes of socio-cultural analysis. Explored are questions of signification at the heart of anthropological inquiry, and to the historical contexts informing these questions.

ANTH V2103 Anthropology of Populism.  3 pts.  Claudio LomnitzPopulism is generally understood as a political style that upholds the doctrine that the rights and prerogatives of ordinary people are being usurped by a minority.  It is also often connected to a “Jacobin” political tradition—in other words, to a politics that makes claims for unmediated popular sovereignty.  It is anti-elite and anti-bureaucratic in its claims, if not in its actual operation. Since populism flourishes in modern political systems it often implies the presence of a leader, who is meant to have a privileged relationship with the people, as against the interests of the “minority,” that is then represented as an oligarchy, an elite, or a cabal.  Enrollment priorities:  CSER and Anthropology majors and concentrators.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH V3035x Religion in Chinese Society 3 pts. Myron Cohen.  Chinese popular religion and ritual during the late traditional period and in modern times. Popular beliefs and practices concerning the cosmos, the gods, and the ancestors; the role in popular religion of Buddhism, Taoism, and the Imperial State Cult; popular religion, social change, and the modern assault on "superstition."

ANTH V3040x Anthropological Theory I 4 pts. Nadia Abu El-Haj. Institutions of social life. Kinship and locality in the structuring of society. Monographs dealing with both literate and nonliterate societies will be discussed in the context of anthropological fieldwork methods.Open to majors; all others with instructor's permission. Prerequisites: an introductory course in anthropology.

ANTH V3811x Toxic 4 pts. Vanessa Agard-Jones.   It is no secret by now that we live in a toxic sea. Every day, in every place in this world, we are exposed to an unknown number of contaminants, including those in the places that we live, the air that we breathe, the foods that we eat, the water that we drink, the consumer products that we use, and in the social worlds that we navigate. While we are all exposed, the effects of these exposures are distributed in radically unequal patterns, and histories of racialization, coloniality, and gendered inequality are critical determinants of the risks to wellness that these toxic entanglements entail. Scientists use the term "body burden" to describe the accumulated, enduring amounts of harmful substances present in human bodies. In this course, we explore the global conditions that give rise to local body burdens, plumbing the history of toxicity as a category, the politics of toxic exposures, and the experience of toxic embodiment. Foregrounding uneven exposures and disproportionate effects, we ask how scientists and humanists, poets and political activists, have understood toxicity as a material and social phenomenon. We will turn our collective attention to the analysis of ethnographies, memoirs, maps, film, and photography, and students will also be charged with creating visual and narrative projects for representing body burden of their own.  Enrollment limit is 16.

ANTH V3821x Native America 4 pts. Audra Simpson.  This is an undergraduate seminar that takes up primary and secondary sources and reflections to: a) provide students with an historical overview of Native American issues and representational practices, b) provide students with an understanding of the ways in which land expropriation and concomitant military and legal struggle have formed the core of Native-State relations and are themselves central to American and Native American history and culture, and c) provide students with an understanding of Native representational practices, political subjectivity, and aspiration. Enrollment limit is 40.

ANTH V3826x Brain Science: A Social History 4 pts. Karen Seeley. In light of the current ascendance of neuroscience, including new federally funded initiatives to map the human brain, this course explores the social history of brain science from the mid-19th century to the present. This period saw the invention of an array of cerebral technologies designed to explain the brain's operations, measure its capacities, manipulate its contents, calm its agitations, and better its performance. In this course, we will examine the historical and political contexts in which such technologies, including psychoanalysis, psychosurgery, brainwashing, and psychopharmaceuticals, were created. At the same time, we will consider the medical doctors, psychologists, and military personnel who endorsed and deployed them to achieve various social, political, and therapeutic ends. Through readings of period scientific texts, contemporary scientific research, personal memoirs, and novels, we will analyze the connections between emergent cerebral technologies and dominant philosophies of consciousness, notions of mind and soul, and theories of intelligence. In addition, we will look at the constructon of the neurological patient through the lenses of culture, race, and gender. Finally, we will consider recent cerebral technologies that produce mages of the brain. Throughout the course, we investigate persisting and urgent interests in knowing the mind, enhancing mental functioning, and managing problem brains.  The permission of the instructor is required.  Enrollment limited to 20. Open to juniors and seniors only.

ANTH V3829x Absent Bodies 4 pts.  Lesley Sharp.  Across a range of cultural and historic contexts, one encounters traces of bodies - and persons - rendered absent, invisible, or erased. Knowledge of the ghostly presence nevertheless prevails, revealing an inextricable relationship between presence and absence. This course addresses the theme of absent bodies in such contexts as war and other memorials, clinical practices, and industrialization, with interdisciplinary readings drawn from anthropology, war and labor histories, and dystopic science fiction. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: Open to undergrad majors; others with the instructor's permission.

ANTH V3854xThe Anthropology of Corruption 4 pts. Sarah Muir. What is corruption? Is it-as we are prone to suspect-detrimental to social equality, political participation, and economic growth? Through texts on the anthropology of liberalism, exchange, post-colonialism, and witchcraft, this seminar will develop a critical perspective on corruption that both problematizes and takes these intuitive claims seriously. Enrollment limit is 15. Priority given to anthropology majors.  

ANTH V3861x Anthropology of the Anthropocene 4 pts. Paige West. This course focuses on the political ecology of the Anthropocene. As multiple publics become increasingly aware of the extensive and accelerated rate of current global environmental change, and the presence of anthropogenesis in ever expanding circumstances, we need to critically analyze the categories of thought and action being developed in order to carefully approach this change. Our concern is thus not so much the Anthropocene as an immutable fact, inevitable event, or definitive period of time (significant though these are), but rather for the political, social, and intellectual consequences of this important idea. Thus we seek to understand the creativity of "The Anthropocene" as a political, rhetorical, and social category. We also aim to examine the networks of capital and power that have given rise to the current state of planetary change, the strategies for ameliorating those changes, and how these are simultaneously implicated in the rhetorical creation of "The Anthropocene". Instructor's permission is required.  Enrollment limited to 15. Priority given to majors in Anthropology.

ANTH V3933x Arabia Imagined 4 pts. Brinkley Messick. This course explores Arabia as a global phenomenon. It is organized around primary texts read in English translation. The site of the revelation of the Quran and the location of the sacred precincts of Islam, Arabia is the destination of pilgrimage and the direction of prayer for Muslims worldwide. It also is the locus of cultural expression ranging from the literature of the 1001 Nights to the broadcasts of Al Jazeera. We begin with themes of contemporary youth culture and political movements associated with the Arab Spring. Seminar paper.

ANTH V3939x The Anime Effect: Media and Technoculture in Contemporary Japan 4 pts. Marilyn Ivy.  Culture, technology, and media in contemporary Japan. Theoretical and ethnographic engagements with forms of mass mediation, including anime, manga, video, and cell-phone novels. Considers larger global economic and political contexts, including post-Fukushima transformations. Prerequisites: the instructor's permission

ANTH V3949x Sorcery and Magic 4 pts. Michael Taussig. An introduction to the occult sides of making history, colonialism, and transforming reality  through the study of south American shamanism, magic in Shakespeare’s Tempest, sexual magic in politics and dictatorships, the uncanniness in Freud’s hysterics,  and William Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night. Course enrollment is 40.

ANTH V3957x  The 'Ethnography of the Everyday'  4 pts. Rosaling Morris.  offers students an opportunity to engage the discipline's methods and genres, and the ethico-philosophical questions about representativeness and exemplarity that subtend them.The course will consider the everyday as an alternative concept to 'culture' and habitus,' while looking at the ethnographic works that were informed by those ideas. Students will undertake weekly writing assignments as part of an investigation not only of method, but of aesthetics, expression, and representation in general.  Enrollment limit 25.

ANTH V3989x Introduction to Urban Anthropology 4 pts. Steven Gregory. This seminar is an introduction to the theory and methods that have been developed by anthropologists to study contemporary cities and urban cultures. Although anthropology has historically focused on the study of non-Western and largely rural societies, since the 1960s, anthropologists have increasingly directed attention to cities and urban cultures. During the course of the semester, we will examine such topics as: the politics of urban planning, development and land use; race, class, gender and urban inequality; urban migration and transnational communities; the symbolic economies of urban space; and street life. Readings will include the works of Jane Jacobs, Sharon Zukin, and Henri Lefebvre. Enrollment limited to 18.

ANTH V3999x and y The Senior Thesis Seminar in Anthropology 4 pts. Lila Abu-Lughod. Students must have declared a major in Anthropology prior to registration. Students must have a 3.6 GPA in the major and a preliminary project concept in order to be considered. Interested students must communicate/meet with thesis instructor in the previous spring about the possibility of taking the course during the upcoming academic year. Additionally, expect to discuss with the instructor at the end of the fall term whether your project has progressed far enough to be completed in the spring term. If it has not, you will exit the seminar after one semester, with a grade based on the work completed during the fall term. Enrollment limited to 15. Open to CC and GS majors in Anthropology only. Prerequisites: The instructor's permission.

The spring sequence of the anthropology thesis seminar is a continuation of the fall semester, in which students designed research questions and proposals that will serve as a guide for the completion of their thesis or comparable senior capstone project. Only those students who expect to have completed the fall semester portion of the course by the end of the fall term, and who will continue on to complete their project in the spring, are allowed to register. Final enrollment is contingent upon actual and successful completion of first semester requirements, as determined by spring semester constructor in consultation with fall semester instructor. Weekly meetings will be devoted to the collaborative refinement of drafts, as well as working through issues of writing (evidence, voice, authority etc). All enrolled students are required to present their project at a symposium in the late spring, and the final grade is based primarily on successful completion of the thesis/ capstone project.


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ANTH V1007x The Origins of Human Society 3 pts. Severin Fowles. An archaeological perspective on the evolution of human social life from the first bipedal step of our ape ancestors to the establishment of large sedentary villages. While traversing six million years and six continents, our explorations will lead us to consider such major issues as the development of human sexuality, the origin of language, the birth of "art" and religion, the domestication of plants and animals, and the foundations of social inequality. Designed for anyone who happens to be human. Mandatory recitation sections will be announced first week of classes. $25.00 laboratory fee.

ANTH W4316x Textures of the City: Mapping New York’s Present Past.  4 pts.  Zoe Crossland.  This class explores how to map and visually represent New York’s history and the continuing presence of past traces in the city. Students will receive training in the key archaeological techniques of landscape analysis and digital (GIS) mapping. We will draw on available archaeological evidence, landscape analysis, and documentary sources to map and explore different aspects of the city’s past. We will critically assess what different mapping techniques offer, and what kind of narratives they underpin or foreclose upon. How do we draw upon such evidence as archaeologists and historians to represent and mediate the city’s past?   Permission of the instructor is required and enrollment limit is 15.  Enrollment priorities: Archaeology and related fields (undergraduate and graduate)

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Biological/Physical Anthropology

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Undergraduate Research Courses

Please refer to the directory of courses online for registration call numbers