Graduate Courses Spring 2017

Please refer to the online directory of courses for times and classroom locations


Registration Dates for Spring 2017 

Academic Calendar

For Cross-Registration Information refer to:

Socio-Cultural Anthropology Courses 

Archaeology Courses

Physical Anthropology Courses

Independent Research Courses


Courses in Sociocultural Anthropology

ANTH GU4284y Islam and Theory 3 pts. Brinkley Messick.  Readings in recent research. Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH GR5000y Scales, Routes, and Regions 3 pts. Naor Ben-Yehoyada.  Transnational regions, with their vague boundaries and long histories, are represented in many facets of academic life, from faculty positions to scholarly journals and professional associations. But in anthropology, the transnational is more an argument for unboundedness than an actual object of historical-anthropological reconstruction. In this seminar we will reconsider the regional scale of transnationalism across continental and oceanic spaces. Regions have a specificity that lends itself to historical anthropology. Because of that, they allow us to capture processes that are more socially textured and spatially expansive than the combination of the global as scale, connections as medium, and global humanity as political horizon. We will examine how to treat transnational regions as ever-changing, multi-scalar constellations, which are animated by forms of relatedness across difference. Our goal will be to articulate our understanding of transnational ism to match the complexity and specificity of how people make and break transnational relations. After an introductory session, the seminar will be divided into four 3-week "modules," each focusing on one of our main axes of analysis: Scales and scaling, space and power, transnational terms of relatedness.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6016 Ideologies/Mytholodies 3 pts. Rosalind Morris.   This course examines the major theoretical texts on ideology and mythology and attempts to bridge what have otherwise been rather distinct analytic traditions within the field of anthropological analysis, namely symbolic and political anthropology. The readings from the course will be grouped to permit an interrogation of several major problematiques; the relationship between representation and mediation; the relationship between desire and interest in the representation of the social field; the question of symbolic efficacy compared to that of mystification; domination and hegemony in the field of ideas; the status of narrative and its relationship to truth claims; the relationship between poetics and politics. Readings are drawn from the canons of anthropology, political theory and literary criticism. Enrollment limit is 20.  Permission required, but granted only provisionally. No final permission guaranteed until after the first class.

ANTH GR6067 Language and Its Limits 3 pts.  Mara Green.  This course examines language and its limits. In the first part of the course, we will focus primarily on foundational texts in linguistics, anthropology, semiotics, and the philosophy of language that have deeply shaped scholarly approaches to language as well as a final concepts such as communication and semiotics. We will pay special attention to the placement and theorization of the boundaries that separate language, signs, and related objects from everything else. In the second part of the course, we will read and watch a variety of materials, produced by anthropologists, philosophers, activists, journalists, and filmmakers, to ask how our understanding of language shifts when the objects of study (seem to) approach or even cross the threshold of language (or communication, interaction, or semiosis). Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6078y The Ethnography of Sound 3 pts. John Pemberton. How does one live with sound and move within worlds of sound? How does one think with sound, and through sound? In pursuit of such questions the course explores: soundscapes, acoustic ecology, and soundwalks; historical listening, echoes of audible pasts, and resonances of auditory cultures; uncanny narrative effects of sonic forces in myth and literature; technological effects of repeated listenings in the age of electronic reproduction, ethereal transmissions, and audio-vision; sounds at the edges of listening with experimental music. Sound, chambers, noise, feedback, voice, resonance, silence: from the sirens of the Odyssey, to the captured souls of Edison's phonography, to compositional figures ala John Cage, to everyday acoustical adventures, if one were to really listen, closely, how might one write about sound? What/who might the listening subject be? Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.  Enrollment limit is 32.

ANTH GR6116y Questions in Theory:  Sociality and the Contours of Life.  3 pts. Yasmin Cho.  This course is designed for students in their first-year of the MA program in the Department of Anthropology. In it, we will explore the generative tensions within concepts of 'the social' that have animated anthropological theory since its earliest days. Combining canonical texts with contemporary ethnography, explore foundational questions about the making and valuing of kinds of humans (and convivial non-humans) and about the production, aggregation, and disaggregation of their collectivities. Ultimately we consider the recent turn to theories of life itself in light of these longstanding questions, and along the way, we will encounter such varied 'big thinkers' of collective life as Engels, Durkheim, Levi-Strauss, Foucault, and Harraway. We will range over a varied territory of ethnographic topics-from intimacy and personhood, to suicide, to nature/culture-each of which richly illustrates the productive problems of personhood, sociality, commensurability, and history for which anthropological theory strives to account.  Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH GR6155y Righting Wrongs: Slavery and Repair 3 pts. David Scott.   This course critically examines some of the moral and historical arguments for the justification of reparations for New World slavery. We explore the state of the debate about such historical injustices -- inquiring into questions of cultural trauma, memory, and generations. Our main concern will be to connect a moral claim about repair to an understanding of the injury of slavery in the Americas.  The permission of the instructor is required.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6170y Law, History and Anthropology 3 pts. Brinkley Messick.  Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH GR6212y Seminar: Principles and Applications in Social and Cultural Anthropology 3 pts. Ellen Marakowitz.     Focus on research and writing for the Master's level thesis, including research design, bibliography and background literature development, and writing.  Prerequisites: ANTH G4201 Principles and Applications of Social and Cultural Anthropology. The instructor's permission is required. Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH GR6301y Animal Ethos 3 pts.  Lesley Sharp.  This seminar interrogates and challenges assumptions regarding the human/nature divide, drawing on classic and contemporary writings within anthropology, political philosophy, history of science, and STS. Of special concern are the meanings assigned to nature, species integrity, interspecies proximity, and the moral boundaries of science where non-human species are involved. Enrollment limit is 15 Graduate students. Audits are not allowed, although students make take this class for R credit with the intention of full-scale participation.

ANTH GR6345y Poetics and Politics of Infrastructure 3 pts. Brian Larkin. Infrastructures are the material forms that allow for the possibility of exchange over space, invisible conduits that comprise the technical architecture that allow urban spaces to form and creates grounds for the circulation that ties those spaces to larger grids. But bodies of recent scholarship have come to interrogate the ways in which infrastructures comprise the conditions of existence for social experience, political action and economic order. This class seeks to examine what an analysis of infrastructure might add to anthropological analysis. Drawing from anthropology, science studies, media theory and history we will analyze the technical conditions of infrastructures, the legal regulations they give rise to, the political action they generate and the forms of everyday life they enable.  Students need to attend the first class to finalize enrollment.  Enrollment limit is 16.

ANTH GR6602y Questions in Anthropological Theory II: Texts 3 pts. Nadia Abu El-Haj (co-teachers: Elizabeth Povinelli and Brian Larkin) This course surveys the historical relationships between anthropological thought and its generic inscription in the form of ethnography. Readings of key ethnographic texts will be used to chart the evolving paradigms and problematics through which the disciplines practitioners have conceptualized their objects and the discipline itself. The course focuses on several key questions, including: the modernity of anthropology and the value of primitivism; the relationship between history and eventfulness in the representation of social order, and related to this, the question of anti-sociality (in crime, witchcraft, warfare, and other kinds of violence); the idea of a cultural world view; voice, language, and translation; and the relationship between the form and content of a text. Assignments include weekly readings and reviews of texts, and a substantial piece of ethnographic writing. Limited to PhD students in Anthropology only or special permission from the instructor.  Enrollment limit is 12.

ANTH GR6643y Isle of Intellectuals 3 pts.  Vanessa Agard-Jones.  For an island of only 400 square miles and a population of only 400,000 people, Martinique’s intellectuals have loomed large in global conversations about the post- and de-colonial. This course follows the intellectual itineraries of iconic thinkers Aimé and Suzanne Césaire, Frantz Fanon, and Édouard Glissant, as well as the varying ideological currents and political projects (Négritude, Antillanité, Creolité, Tout-Monde) with which their work is associated. Foregrounding their writings’ relationship to colonial histories and contemporary politics in the French Caribbean, we will also consider their bearing on questions of decolonization and revolution in the broader African diaspora. Over the course of the semester we will attend to the most important critical literatures developed in response to this work, paying sustained attention to feminist critiques and to approaches that trouble the very idea of the “post” in postcolonial. Throughout, we will ask what conditions in Martinique gave rise to the Césaires’, Fanon’s, and Glissant's currents of theoretical production, grounding each intellectual project in the particular histories of the island, the theorists’ lives there, and their relationships to Caribbean, and more broadly--African diaspora--intellectual praxis. A reading knowledge of French will be helpful, but is not required for the course.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6649y Dark Ecologies: Ecocritical Thought Now. 3 pts.  Marilyn Ivy.  This seminar aims to disclose what an anthropologically informed ecocriticism can offer in this moment of intensifying environmental calamity. With global warming and associated crises of pollution, habitat and species extinction, new forms of disease, and nuclear fears, there is pervasive anxiety about the fate of the earth and, with it, life itself. How can ecocritical thought grapple with the current catastrophe? The seminar will closely engage significant new (and not-so-new) works of anthropology, ecocriticism, philosophy, literature, poetry, art, political thought, and aesthetics in order to address this central question. Readings will include works by Morton, Deleuze, Bonneuil and Fressoz, Bennett, Zizek, Kohn, Descola, Stengers, Haraway, Cohen, Latour, Ballard, Robinson, and others. Enrollment limit is 20 and instructor permission is required.

ANTH GR8494y Seminar on Late Imperial China 3 pts. Myron Cohen.  Selected themes in the analysis of Chinese society during late imperial and modern times. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR9999y Weekly Seminar 0 pts. Brian Larkin.  Reports of ongoing research are presented by staff members, students, and special guests.  All anthropology graduate students are required to attend and all anthropology graduate students in Residence are required to register.

Courses in Archaeology

ANTH GU4345y Neanderthal Alterities 3 pts. Brian Boyd. Using "The Neanderthals" partly as a metaphorical device, this course considers the anthropological, philosophical and ethical implications of sharing the world with another human species. Beginning from a solid grounding in the archaeological, biological and genetic evidence, we will reflect critically on why Neanderthals are rarely afforded the same reflexive capacities, qualities and attributes - agency- as anatomically modern humans, and why they are often regarded as "lesser" or nonhuman animals despite clear evidence for both sophisticated material and social engagement with the world and its resources. Readings/materials are drawn from anthropology, philosophy, ethics, gender studies, race and genetics studies, literature and film.  Enrollment priorities: Graduate students, and 3rd & 4th year undergraduates only.  Enrollment limit 15.

ANTH GU4481y Science and Art in Archaeological Illustration 4 pts.  Zoe Crossland.  The course explores how science and art are folded together in the practice of archaeological illustration. The first half of the course combines hands-on training in techniques of scientific illustration, with an exploration of the representational choices made in this work, and the effects of these choices on how archaeological materials are understood. How have particular representational forms and traditions informed archaeological practice, and what might alternate modes of (non)representation offer? The second half of the semester will move out from this technical illustrative foundation to think more broadly about the intersections between art, science, and archaeology as students work toward their final projects. Students are encouraged to experiment with new ways of deploying traditional illustrative techniques in these projects. The class will include sessions with artists who draw upon archaeology in their practice. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6103y Method and Theory in Archaeology 3 pts.  Terence D’Altroy.  This course is a seminar on research design in anthropological archaeology. It examines the links among theory, method, and data analysis in project design and interpretation. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6192y Exhibition Practice in Global Context 3 pts. David Harvey.  This course addresses the practical challenges entailed in the process of creating a successful exhibition. Developing an actual curatorial project, students will get an opportunity to apply the museum anthropology theory they are exposed to throughout the program. They will be given a hands-on approach to the different stages involved in the curation of a show, from the in-depth researching of a topic to the writing, editing and design of an exhibition that will be effective for specific audiences. Open ONLY to registered Museum Anthropology M.A. students Prerequisites: ANTH G6352 Museum Anthropology: history and theory / ANTH G6353 Politics and Practice of Museum Exhibitions; G9110, G9111. Corequisites: ANTH G6353.  The instructor's permission is required. Enrollment limit is 13.  Course will meet off campus at American Museum of Natural History.

ANTH GR6365y Exhibition Cultures 3 pts. Sergio Jarillo de la Torre. This course is a continuation of Museum Anthropology G6352 (not a prerequisite). Through the study of museum exhibitions, this course explores a series of debates about the representation of culture in museums, the politics of identity, and the significance of objects. We will consider the museum as a contemporary and variable form, as a site for the expression of national, group, and individual identity and as a site of performance and consumption. We will consider how exhibits are developed, what they aim to convey, what makes them effective (or not), and how they sometimes become flashpoints of controversy. Because the work of museums is visual, enacted through the display of material forms, we will also consider the transformation of objects into artifacts and as part of exhibitions, addressing questions of meaning, ownership, value, and magic. We will look at this range of issues from the point of view of practitioners, critics, and audiences.  Enrollment limit is 15. Course will meet off campus at American Museum of Natural History.

ANTH GR9110y Museum Anthropology Internship I 3-9 pts. Brian Boyd.  An internship arranged through the Museum Anthropology program of 10 hrs/week (for 3 credits) or 20 hrs/week (for 6). Involves "meaningful" work, requires keeping a journal and writing a paper at the completion of the semester. Not to be taken without permission of the program directors, usually after completing the Museum Anthropology core courses.

ANTH G9110y Museum Anthropology Internship II 3 pts. Nan Rothschild. An internship arranged through the Museum Anthropology program of 10 hrs/week (for 3 credits) or 20 hrs/week (for 6). Involves "meaningful" work, requires keeping a journal and writing a paper at the completion of the semester. Not to be taken without permission of the program directors, usually after completing the Museum Anthropology core courses.

Courses in Physical Anthropology

ANTH GU4002y Controversial Topics in Human Evolution 3 pts. Ralph Holloway.  Prerequisites: an introductory biological/physical anthropology course and the instructor's permission.  Enrollment limited to 12.

ANTH GU4148y Human Skeletal Biology II 3 pts. Ralph 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. Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.  Enrollment limited to 12.


Independent Research Courses

Graduate Independent Research Courses in Anthropology:  Please refer to the online directory of courses