Undergraduate Courses Fall 2018


                                                                Sociocultural Anthropology
                                                                  Physical Anthropology

This schedule is subject to change

Please visit the Directory of Classes for times and classroom locations: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/

Academic Calendar

For Cross-Registration Information refer to:  http://registrar.columbia.edu/content/cross-registration

For Registration Dates refer to: http://registrar.columbia.edu/


Courses in Sociocultural Anthropology 

ANTH UN1002x (sec 001) THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURE 3 pts. Naor Ben Yehoyada.  The anthropological approach to the study of culture and human society. Using ethnographic case studies, the course explores the universality of cultural categories (social organization, economy, law, belief systems, arts, etc.) and the range of variation among human societies.  Enrollment limited to 72. Discussion Section Required.

ANTH UN1002x (sec 002) THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURE 3 pts. Brian Larkin.   The anthropological approach to the study of culture and human society. Using ethnographic case studies, the course explores the universality of cultural categories (social organization, economy, law, belief systems, arts, etc.) and the range of variation among human societies.  Discussion Section Required.

ANTH UN2004x INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL AND CULTURAL THEORY 3 pts. Marilyn Ivy.  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.  Enrollment limited to 100.  Discussion Section Required.

ANTH UN2026x ON PRECARITY 3 pts.  Mariajose de Abreu.  The topic of precarity is a growing field in the social sciences. The main purpose of this course is to explore the wide semantics and potentials of the term in relation to domains such as labour, law, ethics, technology, health, relationships, moods, shifts in opinion, in fashions or the durability of goods. Our interest in precarity is grounded in two interrelated key motives: the first addresses it as an object of study in its own right. Judging from recent unemployment rates of the industrialized west, the mass scale displacement of populations or the corrosion of security, there is enough reason to put precarity into context. Yet, we might also proceed by inquiring about its potentials as a methodology, one might even call it “a style of reasoning”.  Given how much history relies on causation, sequence and linearity how to relate to precarity as a temporal structure in light of the complexities of the present? How does such multilateral present redefines the very conception of that present, of the historical and the now? We will be relating to precarity not just as a condition of existence but also as an infrastructure with which to think societies across space and time. The course will focus on narratives, practices and structures that problematize and displace prima facie logics of the either/or. Instead, we want to highlight conjoined operations of the both/and which are changing the very nature of how we think norms, time and episteme. Taking a clue from the proliferation of forms of precarity, the course will be organized around specific themes. Within each two-week section, the first sessions will be a lecture and the remaining will combine lecture and discussion of the assigned items. As a whole, the course aims to sensitize students to the complexities and conditioning possibilities involved in the process of knowledge-making and to provide students with tools to better structure and critically access the information they receive and generate.  Enrollment limited to 30. Enrollment priorities:  ANTHROPOLOGY-INTRODUCTION TO SOCIO & CULTURAL THEORY

ANTH UN3465x WOMEN AND GENDER POLITICS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD 3 pts. Lila Abu-Lughod. Practices like veiling that are central to Western images of women and Islam are also contested issues throughout the Muslim world. Examines debates about Islam and gender and explores the interplay of cultural, political, and economic factors in shaping women's lives in the Muslim world, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.  Enrollment limited to 75.  Recitation section required. Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.

ANTH UN3661x SOUTH ASIA: ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACHES 4 pts.  Elizabeth Green.  This course draws on ethnography, history, fiction, and other genres to think about diverse peoples and places in the region known as South Asia. Rather than attempt to fix or define "South Asia" as a singular category, we will explore how particular social and scholarly categories through which dimensions of South Asian life have come to be known (such as caste, class, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, and kinship) are experienced, negotiated, and reworked by actual persons in specific situations. By examining both categories and practices, we will ask: What kinds of relationships exist between the messiness of everyday life and the classifications used by both scholars and "local" people to describe and make sense of it? How do scholarly and bureaucratic ideas not merely reflect but also shape lived realities? How do lived realities affect the ways in which categories are named and understood? In addressing such questions, categories sometimes thought of as stable or timeless emerge as, in fact, contingent and embodied. Enrollment limited is 20.  Enrollment priorities:  Anthropology majors/minors (South) Asian studies majors/minors

ANTH UN3821x 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 limited to 40.  Instructor’s permission is required.

ANTH UN3828x THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF WAR 4 pts.  Nadia Abu El-Haj. In this class, we will think about the various ways in which philosophers, social theorists, historians and anthropologists have thought about war, violence, and responsibility. The course focuses on a set of themes and questions: for example, the nature of violence and the question of responsibility or accountability, shifting technologies of warfare, and the phenomenology and aftermath of warfare, for civilians and for combatants. The reading list incorporates different approaches to such questions—from historical to philosophical to ethnographic accounts. Enrollment is limited to 20.

ANTH UN3829x 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 UN3861x 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".  Enrollment limited to 21. Priority given to majors in Anthropology.

ANTH UN3880x LISTENING: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF SOUND 4pts.  John Pemberton.  This course explores the possibilities of an ethnography of sound by attending to a range of listening encounters: in urban soundscapes of the city and in natural soundscapes of acoustic ecology; from histories of audible pasts and echoes of auditory cultural spaces; through repeated listenings in the age of electronic reproduction, and through chance encounters at the limits of listening with experimental music.  Sound, noise, voice, reverberation, and silence, from the technological resonances produced by Edison, Bell, and others, to the theoretical reflections of John Cage and beyond: the course turns away from the screen and dominant epistemologies of the visual, for an extended moment, in active pursuit of sonorous objects and cultural sonorities. Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Enrollment limited to 25.

ANTH UN3933x 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.  Enrollment limited to 40.

ANTH UN3949x SORCERY AND MAGIC 4pts.  Michael Taussig.  What is sorcery? What is shamanism? Role of storytelling in healing New World and Old based on instructor's experience.  Enrollment limited to 35.  Discussion section required.

ANTH UN3999x THE SENIOR THESIS SEMINAR IN ANTHROPOLOGY 4 pts. Audra Simpson. This two-term course is a combination of a seminar and a workshop that will help you conduct research, write, and present an original honors thesis in anthropology. The first term of this course introduces a variety of approaches used to produce anthropological knowledge and writing; encourages students to think critically about the approaches they take to researching and writing by studying model texts with an eye to the ethics, constraints, and potentials of anthropological research and writing; and gives students practice in the seminar and workshop formats that are key to collegial exchange and refinement of ideas. During the first term, students complete a few short exercises that will culminate in a fully developed, 15-page project proposal, as well as a preliminary draft of one chapter of the senior thesis. The proposal will serve as the guide for completing the thesis during the spring semester. The spring sequence of the anthropology thesis seminar is a writing intensive continuation of the fall semester, in which students will have designed the research questions, prepared a full thesis proposal that will serve as a guide for the completion of the thesis or comparable senior capstone project, and written a draft of one chapter.  Readings in the first semester will be geared toward exploring a variety of models of excellent anthropological or ethnographic work.  Only those students who expect to have completed the fall semester portion of the course are allowed to register for the spring; final enrollment is contingent upon successful completion of first semester requirements. 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.  Note: The senior thesis seminar is open to CC and GS majors in Anthropology only. It requires the instructor’s permission for registration.  Students must have a 3.6 GPA in the major and a preliminary project concept in order to be considered. Interested students should communicate with the thesis instructor and the director of undergraduate study 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 limit is 15.  Requirement: students must have taken first semester of the sequence and must seek instructor approval.

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Courses in Archaeology 

ANTH UN1007x THE ORIGINS OF HUMAN SOCIETY.  3 pts.  Camilla Sturm.  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 and $25.00 laboratory fee. Enrollment limited to 120.

ANTH UN3151x LIVING WITH ANIMALS: ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES 3 pts. Hannah Chazin.  This course examines how humans and animals shape each other’s lives. We’ll explore the astounding diversity of human-animal relationships in time and space, tracing the ways animals have made their impact on human societies (and vice-versa). Using contemporary ethnographic, historical, and archaeological examples from a variety of geographical regions and chronological periods, this class will consider how humans and animals live and make things, and the ways in which humans have found animals “good to think with”.  In this course, we will also discuss how knowledge about human-animal relationships in the past might change contemporary and future approaches to living with animals.

ANTH UN3823x ARCHAEOLOGY ENGAGED: THE PAST IN THE PUBLIC EYE.  4 pts. Terence D’Altroy.  This course provides a panoramic, but intensive, inquiry into the ways that archaeology and its methods for understanding the world have been marshaled for debate in issues of public interest. It is designed to examine claims to knowledge of the past through the lenses of alternative epistemologies and a series of case-based problems that range from the academic to the political, legal, cultural, romantic, and fraudulent.  Enrollment limited to 15. Enrollment Priorities: Seniors and Juniors in ARCH or ANTH.

ANEE GU4522x THE EMERGING CITY: ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORIES OF NEW YORK 4 pts.  Zoe Crossland and Jonathan Nichols. Are we living in the ‘Anthropocene’, a time period that is qualitatively different in terms of human destruction of ecosystems and effects on the planet, or are we seeing the cumulative and unevenly distributed effects of much longer-term trajectories? To assess these questions a range of different sedimentological markers have been proposed: the polluting by-products of the Industrial Revolution; the wide ranging deposition of synthetic plastics; and the distinct signature of 20th century nuclear tests. The Anthropocene debate brings together a futureoriented political project to raise awareness of the accelerating rate of change to the world’s environments, and geological, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data that are used to explore the past. To understand the full implications and effects of the debates around human impact on the environment we will track the environmental history of New York City and its environs. This course for advanced undergraduate and graduate students will provide training in palaeoenvironmental and archaeological methods and data literacy, as well as offering a critical assessment of the ways in which this evidence is interpreted and brought into larger scientific and policy debates. Students will be taught to collect, analyze and combine disparate data sets from several disciplines by exploring the palaeoenvironmental history of the New York City urban area, drawing on archaeology, history and the earth and environmental sciences to do so.  Sessions at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory & NYC Archaeology.  Enrollment limited to 20 and the Instructor's permission is required. ENROLLMENT PRIORITIES:  ARCHAEOLOGY MAJORS AND GRAD STUDENTS + DEES MAJORS AND GRAD STUDENTS.

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Courses in Biological/Physical Anthropology

Courses not offered fall term 2018

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Undergraduate Research Courses 

Undergraduate Independent Research Courses in Anthropology:  Please refer to the online directory of courses  http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/