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 UN1002x The Interpretation of Culture. 3 pts. Sarah Muir.  The anthropological approach to the study of culture and human society. Using case studies from ethnography, the course explores the universality of cultural categories (social organization, economy, law, belief system, art, etc.) and the range of variation among human societies.  Note: STUDENTS MUST REGISTER FOR A DISC SECTION, ANTH V1012.

ANTH UN1009x Introduction to Language and Culture. 3 pts. Elizabeth Green. 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 UN2004x 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 UN2017x Getting the Mafia.  3 pts.  Naor Ben-Yehoyada.  Anti-Mafia investigations are as old as the Mafia, yet the debate about what the Mafia is remains unresolved. The main purpose of this course is to understand how questions of legal knowledge – doubt, certainty, suspicion and surprise – shape the struggle over the relationship between the state and society in Sicily.

ANTH UN2103 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 UN2300x Social Dynamics in Inner Asia.  3 pts.  Joseph MacKay, Rune Steenberg Reyhe, and Alan Timberlake.  Inner Asia stands historically at the intersection of many great civilizations, and today is on the borders of several major political powers, both standing between and linking them. It has time and again been the site of amalgamation of cultures, political systems, languages, religions and identities. It has been the bridge between many, but also. In the process, a historical laboratory for new ideas and important transformations. It is, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, a region in continuous historical flux, typified by intervention from without and transformation from within. That makes the region an ideal site to study the interconnectedness and “becoming” aspects of our globalized social worlds.  Enrollment limit is 40.

ANTH UN3035x 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 UN3040x 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 UN3719x Closeup: Crises in Europe.  4 pts.  Naor Ben-Yehoyada.  The Formation of the European Union in the mid-1990s was one of those political projects that were supposed celebrate and consolidate a “new world order” in aftermath of the Cold War. Twenty years later, things look more complicated. Europeans seem to disagree on everything from the fabric of their political union, through the meaning of supra-national citizenship, to their moral obligations and responsibilities as persons, nations, states, and a union.  Enrollment limit is16.

ANTH UN3811x 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 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 limit is 40.

ANTH UN3826x 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.  Open to juniors and seniors only. Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH UN3828 4 pts. The Anthropology of War.  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 restrictions:  No freshmen. Permission of the instructor required.  Enrollment limit is 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.  Prerequisites: Open to undergrad majors; others with the instructor's permission. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH UN3854xThe 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. Priority given to anthropology majors.  Enrollment limited to 15.

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". Instructor's permission is required.  Priority given to majors in Anthropology. Enrollment limit is 15.

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.

ANTH UN3939x 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 UN3949x 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 limit is 40.

ANTH UN3957x  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 is 25.

ANTH UN3989x 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 limit is 18.

ANTH UN3999x and y The Senior Thesis Seminar in Anthropology. 4 pts. Lila Abu-Lughod. 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.


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ANTH UN1007x 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 GU4316x 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