Undergraduate Courses Fall term 2014


                                                                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 term 2014: 


ANTH V1002x  The Interpretation of Culture 3 pts. S. 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.  Discussion Section Required. Registration for discussion sections will occur during the first week of class.

ANTH V1009x Introduction to Language and Culture 3 pts. S. Scott.  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. J. Pemberton. Introduces students to crucial theories of society, paying particular attention to classic social theory of the late-nineteenth and twentieth 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. Discussion Section Required.  Registration for discussion sections will occur during the first week of class.

ANTH V2008x Film and Culture 3 pts. M. McLagan. The class explores the intersection of aesthetics and ethnography in contemporary nonfiction filmmaking. Course readings address the blurring of boundaries between filmic genres and the multiplicity of relationships they establish between the "pro-filmic" and the filmic; the ethics as well as the epistemology of visual and auditory representations and the relationships that are put into play between films' subjects, their makers, and their audiences in a variety of cultural contexts, the social life of images, and the relationship between anthropological knowledge and various documentary modalities.

ANTH V2015x Chinese Society and Culture 3 pts. M. Cohen. Social organization and social change in China from late imperial times to the present. Major topics include family, kinship, community, stratification, and the relationships between the state and local society.

Middle East W2030x Major Debates-Study of Africa (PREVIOUSLY OFFERED AS ANTH V2010)  3 pts. M. Mamdani.  This course will focus on key debates that have shaped the study of Africa in the postcolonial African academy. We will cover six key debates (a) history before external impact; (b) agency and responsibility in different kinds of slave trade; (c) State Formation (conquest, slavery, colonialism); (d) underdevelopment (colonialism and globalization); (e) nationalism and the anti-colonial struggle; (f) pan-Africanism and globalization. The approach will be multidisciplinary and readings will be illustrative of different sides in the debate.

ANTH V3040x Anthropological Theory I (formerly ANTH V3011 Social Relations: Living in Society) 4 pts. S. Muir. Prerequisite: an introductory course in anthropology. 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. This course is open to anthropology majors; others require advanced permission of the instructor. Enrollment is 15.

ANTH V3120x Historical Rituals in Latin America 3 pts. C. Lomnitz. Anthropologists and historians of literacy and communication have emphasized the reliance on multivocal imagery in the organization of social and political life in Latin America. Historically, the salient role of image and of ritual in political ritual was fed by the chasm between literate and illiterate segments of the population. During the twentieth century, however, the rise of mass politics on one hand, and television and other visual media on the other, gave a new lease on the vibrant relevance of historical ritual and myth in local polticial life. This course explores the role of religious and secular ritual and myth in framing historical processes. It makes special emphasis on the use of Catholic ritual, imagery, and mythology in the European conquest and colonization of the continent, and in revolution, nationbuilding, civic life, and sexual politics, since the 19tr century.  Requirements: Undergraduate majors. Enrollment is 60

ANTH V3126x Imagining the City 3 pts. G. Gunel. This course explores the various ways in which cities are planned, represented and navigated, and interrogates collectively imagined forms of social life and social order as they are reflected in urban design. By pairing fiction films and documentaries with readings from anthropology, sociology, history and literary criticim, we will discuss the role of planning, speculation, technology and nostalgia in defining and conceptualizing the city.

ANTH V3810x Madagascar  4 pts.  L. Sharp.  Critiques the many ways the great Red Island has been described and imagined by explorers, colonists, social scientists, and historians-as an Asian-African amalgamation, an ecological paradise, and a microcosm of the Indian Ocean. Religious diasporas, mercantilism, colonization, enslavement, and race and nation define key categories of comparative analysis.  Prerequisites: Non-Anthropology majors require the instructor's permission.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH V3821x Native America (formerly V3090) 4 pts.  A. 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 c) provide students with an understanding of Native representational practices, political subjectivity and aspiration. Enrollment limit is 40. Global Core.

ANTH V3826x Brain Science: A Social History 4 pts. K. Seeley.  In light of the current ascendance of neuroscience, including new federally funded initiatives to map the human brain, this course explores the social historyof brain science from the mid-nineteenth 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 suchtechnologies, including psychoanalysis, psychosurgery, brainwashing, and psychGpharmaceuticals, were created. At the same time, we will considerthe 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.  Corequisites: Open to Juniors and Seniors only. Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH V3861x Anthropology of the Anthropocene 4 pts. P. 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" Priority given to Majors in Anthropology.  Instructor's permission is required.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH V3872x From Physics Labs to Oil Futures: Social Studies of Energy 4 pts. G. Gunel. How did whale oil become replaced by fossil fuels? What were the turning points in implementing electricity networks within urban centers? What is the role of markets and industries when producing such new energy infrastructures? This interdisciplinary course will trace ideas of energy in anthropology, science and technology studies, literary studies and
environmental history, and investigate how energy production and consumption affects social life. Enrollment limited is 15

 ANTH V3873x LANGUAGE AND POLITICS 4 pts. S. Scott. Language is central to political process. While all agree that language is used to symbolize or express political action, the main focus of this course is on how language and other communicative practices contribute to the creation of political stances, events, and forms of order. Topics addressed include political rhetoric and ritual, political communication and publics, discrimination and hierarchy, language and the legitimation of authority, as well as the role of language in nationalism, state formation, and in other sociopolitical movements like feminism and diasporic communities. Since this course has the good fortune of coinciding with the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, we will make significant use of campaign rhetorics as a means of illustrating and exploring various themes.

ANTH V3921x Anticolonialism 4 pts. D. Scott. Through a careful exploration of the argument and style of five vivid anticolonial texts, Mahatma Gandhi's Hind Swaraj, C.L.R. James' The Black Jacobins, Aimé Césaire's Discourse on Colonialism, Albert Memmi's Colonizer and Colonized, and Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth, this course aims to inquire into the construction of the image of colonialism and its projected aftermaths established in anti-colonial discourse.  Enrollment limit is 20.  

ANTH V3926x Rewriting Modernity: Transculturation and the Postcolonial Intellectual 4 pts. H. Mokoena. This course is an examination of how postcolonial intellectuals have participated in the creation and contesting of alternative/multiple/'fugitive' modernities.General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL). General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC).

ANTH V3933x Arabia Imagined 4 pts. B. 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. Global Core.

ANTH V3939x The Anime Effect: Media and Technoculture in Japan 4 pts. M. 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. Major Cultures Requirement: East Asian Civilization ListMajor Cultures Requirement: East Asian Civilization List B.  Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

ANTH V3949x Sorcery and Magic 4 pts. M. Taussig. In considering philosophical, aesthetic, and political aspects of sorcery in contemporary and historical settings, also considers the implications of postmodernism for anthropological theorizing as itself a form of sorcery. Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. 

ANTH V3980x Nationalism 4 pts. P. Chatterjee. This course will cover the basic readings in the contemporary debate over nationalism. It will cover different disciplinary approaches and especially look at recent studies of nationalism in the formerly colonial world as well as in the industrial West. The readings will offer a mix of both theoretical and empirical studies. The readings include the following: 1) Eric Hobsbawn: Nationalism since 1700; 2) Ernest Gillner: Nations ans Nationalism; 3) Benedict Anderson: Imagined Communities; 4) Antony Smith: The Ethnic Origins of Nations; 5) Linda Coley: Britons; 6) Peter Sahlins: Boundaries and 7) Partha Chatterjee; The Nation and Its Fragments. Prerequisite: intended for seniors but not necessarily anthropology majors. Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

ANTH V3999x and y The Senior Thesis Seminar in Anthropology 4 pts. M. Combs-Schilling. Students interested in the two semester senior thesis course in anthropology should attend the first session of the seminar to discuss the possibility of joining the course. Students must have at least a 3.6 GPA in the major and a preliminary project concept in order to become a part of the seminar. Professor Elaine Combs-Schilling and Teaching Associate, jointly teach this advanced seminar. Each student's 2 semester project takes place over the fall and spring and is intended to result in a project that will culminate in a 40-50 page thesis in consultation with professors and advisors. An "in progress mark" will be allocated at the end of the fall semester for those students remaining in the senior thesis course. The final grade for the fall-spring academic year must be completed before a qualitative grade is assigned. The grade allocated at the end of the second term will become the grade for the entire course. 



Back to Top


ANTH V1007x The Origins of Human Society 3 pts. A. Watson. 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. Discussion Section Required. Registration for discussion sections will occur during the first week of class. $25.00 laboratory fee.

ANTH V3064x Death and the Body 3 pts. Z. Crossland. This class explores the ways in which archaeologists use the dead body to explore past beliefs and social practices, critically assessing these approaches from the broader perspective of anthropological and sociological theories of the body's production and constitution. We'll look at the ways in which social status, gender and personhood are expressed through the dead body and through practices of body modification and display. In this context we'll also consider the social relations of archaeological exhumation, the conflict that can arise over the excavation of human remains, and their treatment as courtroom evidence in forensic archaeology. $25.00 mandatory laboratory fee.

ANTH V3721x Spatial Analysis in Archaeology 4 pts. M. Sanger.  This is an advanced course in spatial modeling developed specifically for Anthropology students, particularly those pursuing a degree through the inter-departmental Archaeology program. This course will provide a foundation for understanding a variety of issues related to spatial analysis and modeling.  Students will explore the concepts, tools, and techniques of GIS modeling and review and critique its application within archaeology. The course will also offer students the opportunity to design, build and evaluate their own spatial analyses.   We will draw from a wide range of examples including trade and exchange networks in Greece, placement of shrines and homes in the pre-Hispanic American Southwest, and the imposition of power within sacred spaces at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The course will consist of lectures, reading assignments, lab assignments, and a final project. Priority given to senior and juniors.

ANTH V3922x The Emergence of State 4 pts. T. D'Altroy. The creation of the earliest states out of simpler societies was a momentous change in human history. This course examines major theories proposed to account for that process, including population pressure, warfare, urbanism, class conflict, technological innovation, resource management, political conflict and cooperation, economic specialization and exchange, religion/ideology, and information processing.


Back to Top

Biological/Physical Anthropology

ANTH V3970x Biological Basis of Human Variation 4 pts. R. Holloway. Biological evidence for the modern human diversity at the molecular, phenotypical, and behavioral levels, as distributed geographically. Prerequisites: ANEB V1010 and permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 15 students and instructor's permission required.

ANTH G4147x (Section 001) Human Skeletal Biology I 3 pts.  R. Holloway. Recommended for archaeology and physical anthropology students, pre-meds, and biology majors interested in the human skeletal system. Intensive study of human skeletal materials using anatomical and anthropological landmarks to assess sex, age, and ethnicity of bones. Other primate skeletal materials and fossil casts used for comparative study. Enrollment limited to 15 students. Instructor's permission required.

Back to Top


Undergraduate Research Courses

ANTH W3997x Supervised Individual Research Course In Anthropology 2-6 pts. Prerequisite: the written permission of the staff member under whose supervision the research will be conducted.