Undergraduate Courses Fall term 2017


                                                                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

Courses Sociocultural Anthropology

ANTH UN1002x The Interpretation of Culture. 3 pts.  Catherine Fennell.  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. Students are required to register for a discussion section.  Please check the Directory of Classes for a listing at:   http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/

ANTH UN2001x Nationalism, Populism, Democracy.  4 pts. Partha Chatterjee.  Although the course will offer a historical approach to the question of populism, it will try to address the relation between nationalism, populism and democracy at a more conceptual level, seeking to develop analytical tools for understanding contemporary social and political ideologies and conflicts. The readings consist of a mix of historical and theoretical texts, in addition to a short novel and three films. Enrollment limit is 100.

ANTH UN2004x Introduction to Social and Cultural Theory. 3 pts. John Pemberton. Introduces students to crucial theories of society and culture, paying particular attention to classic social theory of late-19th and 20th-century texts. 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 UN2007x Indian and Nigerian Film Cultures.  3 pts.  Brian Larkin.  Hindi cinema, or Bollywood, represents one of the oldest and most dynamic forms of global popular cinema whose popularity has spread far beyond India itself into countries from Senegal to Thailand, to the Ukraine. Nigerian cinema, or Nollywood, represents one of the newest. In little more than a decade it has spread all over Africa and, increasingly, into the Caribbean and Black diaspora. This class both provides an introductory overview to the histories of film and film culture in India and Nigeria as a means to understand the nature of these film forms and their histories. It also moves beyond this to understand the ways in which film cultures are part of broader practices of urbanization, examining how cinema bleeds out into the constitution of everyday life and politics. In particular it looks at how the institution and medium of cinema in India and Nigeria has become the symbolic focus for larger debates about cultural values, nationalism and the changes brought by modernity. Enrollment limit is 100.

ANTH UN2008x Film and Culture. 3 pts.  Michael Taussig.  This intellectually demanding course concerns the theory  of film in relation to seeing anew the problem of out-maneuvering power, common sense, narrative structures, and aesthetics. Films include: ethnographic film and documentary  such as "Too Many Captain Cooks," Juan Downey's "The Laughing Alligator," Jean Rouch's "Les Maitre Fous," and "Trobriand Cricket," as well as  early Soviet film, Surrealist film, films by indigenous Australian filmmakers, , Samuel Beckett's "Film," Senegal's Sembene's "Guelwaar", and Harry Smith's "Mahagonny" set in downtown NYC. Enrollment limit is 86.

ANTH UN2015x Chinese Society and Culture. 3 pts. Myron 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.

ANTH UN2026x  On Precarity.  3pts.  Maria Jose 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.

ANTH UN3040x Anthropological Theory I. 4 pts. Lesley Sharp. A theoretical history of the discipline of anthropology, read through classic and contemporary texts.  A course requirement for the major at Barnard, preferably by the junior year, offered in fall semester only; open to others with Instructor’s permission only.  Prerequisite:  an introductory (1000 level) anthropology course.  Enrollment limit is 25.

ANTH UN3008x Language Matters.  4 pts.  E. Mara Green.  The central claim of this course is that language "matters" in the sociocultural worlds where it is produced, negotiated, contested, and even ignored. The word “matters” is also meant to draw attention to how language in use is always material – produced by bodies, perceived aurally, visually, or tactually, and manifest in the specific words, sentences, and stories people say. The course includes an examination of semiotics and modality, and then tackles questions of the performative power of language, and especially but not only stories, to not only represent but also create culturally specific worlds. It then moves beyond traditional categories and considerations by paying attention to meaning beyond language, language beyond life, and what non-humans have to say. Instructor’s permission is required. Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH UN3701x Crime and Punishment.  3pts.  Naor Ben-Yehoyada.  In its everyday use, the term “trial” denotes a formal examination of evidence by a judicial tribunal in order to determine the guilt or innocence of the persons accused of a certain act. Yet trials can also stage confrontations of much wider breadth and higher stakes. Ruling powers of various shapes and sizes tend to prosecute those people whom they fear because of their identity, class, craft, or convictions. In such cases, what is often “on trial” is not just one (or more) individual persons, but a set of relationship that these ruling powers see as anathema to the social order they seek to establish or maintain, and on which their power depends. Witches, officers of toppled political orders, those accused of conspiracy (rebels, traitors, terrorists, and dissidents), gangsters and mafiosi, or corrupt officers and magnates – all share that role in social dramas that cast them as enemies of The State, The Church, The People, or Humanity. We will examine how such trials give us unique opportunities to examine what conceptions of society, of relationships good and evil, and of justice underlie political orders, how they codify and pursue them, and what historical processes these enactments trigger or shape. After an introductory session, we will dedicate two to three weeks on each of these categories. Our goal will be to develop tools for understanding the relationship between the microdynamics of trials and the changes that unfold before these events, through them, and in their aftermath.

ANTH UN3828x Anthropology of War.  4pts.  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 also includes different kinds of approaches to such questions—from historical to philosophical to ethnographic accounts. The questions that drive this seminar are theoretical and historical, as wellas ethical and political. This course is not open to freshmen.

Anth BC3871x Senior Thesis Seminar I.  3 pts.  Severin Fowles and Paige West.   Prerequisites: Limited to Barnard Anthropology Seniors. Offered every Fall. Discussion of research methods and planning and writing of a Senior Essay in Anthropology will accompany research on problems of interest to students, culminating in the writing of individual Senior Essays. The advisory system requires periodic consultation and discussion between the student and her adviser as well as the meeting of specific deadlines set by the department each semester.  Limited to Barnard Senior Anthropology Majors.

ANTH UN3879x The Medical Imaginary. 4 pts. Lesley Sharp.  How might we speak of an imaginary within biomedicine? This course interrogates the ideological underpinnings of technocratic medicine in contexts that extend from the art of surgery to patient participation in experimental drug trials. Issues of scale will prove especially important in our efforts to track the medical imaginary from the whole, fleshy body to the molecular level. Key themes include everyday ethics; ways of seeing and knowing; suffering and hope; and subjectivity in a range of medical and sociomedical contexts. Open to anthropology majors; non-majors require instructor’s permission.  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 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.  Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH UN3946x African Popular Culture. 4 pts. Brian Larkin.  This course examines a range of popular cultural forms that emerged from urban Africa and have come to both express and shape colonial and postcolonial African experience. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH UN3957x Ethnography of the Everyday. 4 pts. Rosalind Morris.  The 'Ethnography of the Everyday' 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. Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH UN3966x Culture and Mental Health. 4 pts. Karen Seeley. This course considers mental disturbance and its relief by examining historical, anthropological, psychoanalytic and psychiatric notions of self, suffering, and cure. After exploring the ways in which conceptions of mental suffering and abnormality are produced, we look at specific kinds of psychic disturbances and at various methods for their alleviation. Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Limited to juniors & seniors. Enrollment limit is 20.

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 Senior Thesis Seminar in Anthropology. 4 pts.  Catherine Fennell.  Prerequisites: The instructor's permission. 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.

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.  

ANTH GU4407x Mass Violence and Its Aftermaths in Southeast Asia.  3pts. Eve Zucker.  This course covers select topics on violence in modern Southeast Asia. The focus is on large scale violence such as war and genocide but also includes cases of communal or political violence. The media and texts selected draw from a variety of disciplines and sources with the aim of providing students with a variety of perspectives and understandings of select cases of Southeast Asian violence and its aftermaths. In addition to covering regional cases such as the Cambodian genocide and Vietnam War, the course also focuses on special topics for comparison such as gender and perpetrators of violence. Students will compare the causes, types of violence and aftermaths including the effects on collective memory and recovery. The seminar ends with a survey of current state of violence or the potential for violence in the future and examines the outcomes of local means of recovery, transitional justice mechanisms, and peacebuilding efforts.  Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH GU4480x Critical Native and Indigenous Studies. 3 pts.  Jaskarian Dillon.  This course is an interdisciplinary survey of the literature and issues that comprise Native American and Indigenous Studies. Readings for this course are organized around the concepts of indigeneity, coloniality, power and "resistance" and concomitantly interrogate these concepts for social and cultural analysis. The syllabus is derived from some of the "classic" and canonical works in Native American Studies such as Custer Died for Your Sins but will also require an engagement with less canonical works such as Red Man's Appeal to Justice in addition to historical, ethnographic and theoretical contributions from scholars that work outside of Native American and Indigenous Studies. This course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.  Advanced undergraduate and graduate students.  Enrollment limit is 22.

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Courses Archaeology

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. Students are required to register for a discussion section.  Please check the Directory of Classes for a listing at:   http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/.  Enrollment limit is 120.  This course has a $25.00 laboratory fee.

ANTH UN2031x Corpse Life: Anthropological Histories of the Dead.  4 pts.  Zoe Crossland.  The awareness of mortality seems to be a peculiarly human affliction, and its study has been a key theme of 20th century philosophy. This class will address the question of human finitude from outside of the western philosophical tradition. Anthropologists have shown that humans deal with the challenge of death in diverse ways, which nevertheless share some common themes. During the semester, we will look at case studies from across the world and over time and explore the ethics and politics of disturbing the dead. The evidence of past human mortuary assemblages will provide some of our key primary texts. We’ll analyze famous burials such as those of Tutankhamun, the Lord of Sipan, and Emperor Qin’s mausoleum, containing the celebrate terracotta warriors, but we will also consider less well-known mortuary contexts. We will also critically examine the dead body as a privileged site for anthropological research, situating its study within the broader purview of anthropological theories of the body's production and constitution. Enrollment limit is 100.  This course has a $25.00 laboratory fee.

ANTH UN3151x Living/Thinking/Doing with Animals: Human-Animal Relationships in the Past, Present, & Future.  4pts. 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 discusshow knowledge about human-animal relationships in the past might change contemporary and future approaches to living with animals.  Recitation sections TBA.

ANTH UN3823x Arch Engage:  Past in the Pub 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 limit is 15.

ANHS GU4001x The Ancient Empire.  3 pts.  Terence D'Altroy.   The principal goal of this course is to examine the nature and histories of a range of early empires in a comparative context.  In the process, we will examine influential theories that have been proposed to account for the emergence and trajectories of those empires. Among the theories are the core-periphery, world-systems, territorial-hegemonic, tributary-capitalist, network, and IEMP approaches.  Five regions of the world have been chosen, from the many that could provide candidates: Rome (the classic empire), New Kingdom Egypt, Qin China, Aztec Mesoamerica, and Inka South America. These empires have been chosen because they represent a cross-section of polities ranging from relatively simple and early expansionist societies to the grand empires of the Classical World, and the most powerful states of the indigenous Americas.  There are no prerequisites for this course, although students who have no background in Anthropology, Archaeology, History, or Classics may find the course material somewhat more challenging than students with some knowledge of the study of early societies.  There will be two lectures per week, given by the professor. Enrollment limit is 100.

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Courses Biological/Physical Anthropology

Courses not offered fall term 2017

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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/