Courses - Fall 2024

Detailed descriptions of Undergraduate and Graduate courses may be found under the accordion headings below. Additional information and registration details, including days and times, and classroom locations, may be obtained from the Course Directory and Vergil.


 

Fall 2024 Course Listings

For information on class days and times, enrollment limits, enrollment status, course fees and classroom locations, visit the Online Directory of Classes at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/  

Registration begins for most Schools on Monday, April 15, 2024.

 

COURSES IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY:

Anthropology UN1002x THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURE. 3 pts. Instructor: Kaya Williams. 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.

Anthropology UN2004x INTRO TO SOCIAL & CULTURAL THEORY. 3 pts. John Pemberton. This course presents students with crucial theories of society, paying particular attention at the outset to classic social theory of the early 20th century. It traces a trajectory of writings essential for an understanding of the social: from Saussure, Durkheim, Mauss, Weber, and Marx, on to the structuralist ethnographic elaboration of Claude Levi-Strauss and the historiographic reflections on modernity of Michel Foucault. We revisit periodically, reflections by Franz Boas, founder of anthropology in the United States (and of Anthropology at Columbia), for a sense of origins, an early anthropological critique of racism and cultural chauvinism, and a prescient denunciation of fascism. We turn as well, also with ever-renewed interest in these times, to the expansive critical thought of W. E. B. Du Bois. We conclude with Kathleen Stewart’s A Space on the Side of the Road--an ethnography of late-twentieth-century Appalachia and the haunted remains of coal- mining country--with its depictions of an uncanny otherness within dominant American narratives.

Anthropology UN2017x MAFIAS AND OTHER DANGEROUS AFFILIATIONS. 3 pts. Instructor: Naor Ben-Yehoyada. Regimes of various shapes and sizes tend to criminalize associations, organizations, and social relations that these ruling powers see as anathema to the social order on which their power depends: witches, officers of toppled political orders, alleged conspirators (rebels, traitors, terrorists, and dissidents), gangsters and mafiosi, or corrupt officers and magnates. Our main goal will be to understand how and under what conditions do those with the power to do so define, investigate, criminalize and prosecute those kinds of social relations that are cast as enemies of public order. We will also pay close attention to questions of knowledge – legal, investigative, political, journalistic, and public – how doubt, certainty, suspicion and surprise shape the struggle over the relationship between the state and society. The main part of the course is organized around six criminal investigations on mafia-related affairs that took place from the 1950s to the present (two are undergoing appeal these days) in western Sicily. After the introductory section, we will spend two weeks (four meetings) on every one of these cases. We will follow attempts to understand the Mafia and similarly criminalized organizations, and procure evidence about it. We will then expand our inquiry from Sicily to cases from all over the world, to examine questions about social relations, law, the uses of culture, and political imagination.

*Although this is a social anthropology course, no previous knowledge of anthropology is required or presumed. Classroom lectures will provide necessary disciplinary background.


Anthropology UN3040x ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY. 3 pts. Instructor: Brian Larkin. Comprehensive and in-depth engagement with foundational and contemporary theoretical concepts and texts in Anthropology. Required of all Barnard students majoring in Anthropology (including specialized tracks). Permission of instructor required for non-majors. Not open to First Year students.
Prerequisite: an introductory (1000 level) course in Anthropology.

Anthropology UN3091x DISABILITY. 3 pts. Instructor: Mara Green. Drawing both from anthropology and Disability Studies, this course centers disability in its many manifestations and meanings – as lived experience, as organizing discourse, and as analytic framework – in sociocultural settings across multiple countries. Through explorations of a range of scholarly and other materials, many of them produced by people who identify as deaf, disabled, and/or neurodivergent, we will ask what the stakes are – intellectually, socially, politically - for different ways of doing, thinking, and representing disability.

Anthropology UN3160x BODY AND SOCIETY. 3 pts. Instructor: Gina Jae. As an introduction to the field of medical anthropology, this seminar addresses themes of health, affliction, and healing across sociocultural domains. Concerns include critiques of biomedical, epidemiological and other models of disease and suffering; the entwinement of religion and healing; technocratic interventions in healthcare; and the sociomoral underpinnings of human life, death, and survival. Prerequisite: a 1000 level course in Anthropology is recommended, but not required. Instructors' permission required for non-anthropology majors.

Anthropology UN3356x EARTH WORKS: ANTHROPOLOGY, ART, EXTRACTION. 4 pts. Instructor: Rosalind Morris. This undergraduate seminar is offered to students interested in the anthropological analysis of extractive economies and the social and political forms associated with them, as well as the arts through which they have been made the object of both investment and resistance. The course this semester will be focused on mining, and is organized along three axes: 1) mineral object; 2) socioeconomic form; and 3) aesthetics, with the latter including the arts of artisanal extraction, and literary, visual and media artistic practice. Priority for Anthropology Students. Prerequisites: at least one introductory anthropology course, or permission of the instructor for people from fine arts backgrounds.

Anthropology UN3725x POLITICS OF RECOGNITION. 4 pts. Instructor: Elizabeth Povinelli. This course examines the contemporary history of struggles for recognition, reform and revolution as articulated around the politics of recognition. The course is genealogical in spirit, beginning with a set of texts that have provided the touchstone for contemporary theory and practices of politics and then moving to more recent engagements with the same. Priorities: Advanced Undergraduate, graduate students.

Anthropology UN3811x TOXIC. 4pts. Instructor: 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. Prerequisite: Instructor’s permission. To apply, please contact [email protected].

Anthropology UN3835x AIR MATTERS. 4 pts. Instructor: María José de Abreu. This course focuses on conceptualizing air across cultures, time and space. If western episteme has long relied on earthbound vocabularies in order to edify its modernizing project, what happens when we set to rethink its basic premises through aerial logics? Can we even suggest adopting an air perspective or point of view without falling back into those very earthbound terms on which knowledge has long been made to be grounded? Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, this course proposes to analyze plural histories of the air that have not been sufficiently acknowledged. Drawing on a variety of cultural and historical examples, each week will entail ungrounding air through a particular subject-matter: medical, legal, war, race, gender, religion, media and technology, pollution and climate change, design, art and architecture, cities and countryside, the future of masks, or exoplanet atmospheres.

Anthropology UN3888x DARK ECOLOGIES: ECOCRITICISM NOW. 4 pts. Instructor: Marilyn Ivy. This seminar aims to show what an anthropologically informed, ecocritical cultural studies can offer in this moment of intensifying ecological calamity. The course will not only engage significant works in anthropology, ecocriticism, philosophy, literature, politics, and aesthetics to think about the environment, it will also bring these works into engaged reflection on living in the end times (borrowing cultural critic Slavoj Zizeks phrase). The seminar will thus locate critical perspectives on the environment within the contemporary worldwide ecological crisis, emphasizing the ethnographic realities of global warming, debates on nuclear power and energy, and the place of nature. Drawing on the professors long experience in Japan and current research on the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, the seminar will also take care to unpack the notion of end times, with its apocalyptic implications, through close considerations of works that take on the question of ecocatastrophe in our times. North American and European perspectives, as well as international ones (particularly ones drawn from East Asia), will give the course a global reach. Prerequisites: the instructor’s permission.

Anthropology UN3921x ANTICOLONIALISM. 4pts. Instructor: David 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.BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Anthropology UN3947x. TEXT, MAGIC, PERFORMANCE. 4 pts. Instructor: John Pemberton. This course pursues interconnections linking text and performance in light of magic, ritual, possession, narration, and related articulations of power. Readings are drawn from classic theoretical writings, colonial fiction, and ethnographic accounts. Domains of inquiry include: spirit possession, trance states, séance, ritual performance, and related realms of cinematic projection, musical form, shadow theater, performative objects, and (other) things that move on their own, compellingly. Key theoretical concerns are subjectivity - particularly, the conjuring up and displacement of self in the form of the first-person singular I - and the haunting power of repetition. Retraced throughout the course are the uncanny shadows of a fully possessed subject --within ritual contexts and within everyday life. This is a Global Core Course.
The permission of the instructor is required.

Anthropology UN3976x ANTHROPOLOGY OF SCIENCE. 4 pts. Instructor: Gina Jae. This course examines specific debates in the history and philosophy of science, and in science and technology studies (STS), with a view towards exploring the relationships among science, technology and society. The first half of the course engages methodological questions and theoretical debates concerning the nature of epistemology, and the significance of social interests, material agency, laboratory and social practices, and “culture(s)” in the making of scientific knowledge. The second half delves more specifically into the ways in which sciences and technologies are both embedded in and shape contemporary social and political practices and imaginaries. Prerequisites: non-majors need instructor permission.

Anthropology UN3997x SUPERVISED INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH. 2-6 Pts. Prerequisite: the written permission of the staff member under whose supervision the research will be conducted. Visit the Directory of Classes at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/ for a list of instructors.

Anthropology UN3999x SENIOR THESIS SEMINAR IN ANTHROPOLOGY. 4 pts. Instructor: Audra Simpson. 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 senior thesis in anthropology. Students who write theses are eligible to be considered for departmental honors. 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 substantial draft of one discrete section of their senior project (18-20 pages) plus a detailed outline of the expected work that remains to be done (5 pages). 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 and written a draft of one chapter. 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. In spring semester, 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. Requirements: Students must have completed the requirements of the first semester of the sequence and seek instructor approval to enroll in the second.

Anthropology GU4196x MEXICO’S DISAPPEARED PRACTICUM. 3 pts. Instructor: Claudio Lomnitz. This practicum is an exercise in engaged pedagogy. The academic work we do will be conducted for the benefit of the cause of Mexico's now over 110,000 disappeared persons. Students will be engaged in a sustained research effort to development a "context analysis" of disappearances in the state of Zacatecas (Mexico)-- an exercise in social study that focuses on the economic, political, social, and criminological context in which disappearances occur. Research is done in coordination with Mexico's National Commission for the Search of the Disappeared. Alongside the practical, real-world, objective, this Practicum is designed to perfect research skills in the social sciences. PREREQUISITE: Spanish language comprehension is compulsory for 60% of those enrolled.

COURSES IN ARCHAEOLOGY:

Anthropology UN1007x THE ORIGINS OF HUMAN SOCIETY. 3 pts. Instructor: 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.

Anthropology UN2028x THINK LIKE AN ARCHAEOLOGIST. 3 pts. Instructor: Hannah Chazin. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to methods and theory in archaeology – by exploring how archaeologists work to create narratives about the past (and the present) on the basis on the material remains of the past. The course begins with a consideration of how archaeologists deal with the remains of the past in the present: What are archaeological sites and how do we ‘discover’ them? How do archaeologists ‘read’ or analyze sites and artifacts? From there, we will turn to the question of how archaeologists interpret these materials traces, in order to create narratives about life in the past. After a review of the historical development of theoretical approaches in archaeological interpretation, the course will consider contemporary approaches to interpreting the past.

Anthropology UN3007x ARCHAEOLOGY BEFORE THE BIBLE. 3 pts. Instructor: Brian Boyd. Please note that this is not a class on “biblical archaeology”. It is a course about the politics of archaeology in the context of Israel/Palestine, and the wider southwest Asia region. This course provides a critical overview of prehistoric archaeology in southwest Asia (or the Levant - the geographical area from Lebanon in the north to the Sinai in the south, and from the middle Euphrates in Syria to southern Jordan). It has been designed to appeal to anthropologists, historians, and students interested in the Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies. The course is divided into two parts. First, a social and political history of archaeology, emphasizing how the nature of current theoretical and practical knowledge has been shaped and defined by previous research traditions and, second, how the current political situation in the region impinges upon archaeological practice. Themes include: the dominance of "biblical archaeology" and the implications for Palestinian archaeology, Islamic archaeology, the impact of European contact from the Crusades onwards, and the development of prehistory.

Anthropology UN3663x THE ANCIENT TABLE: ARCHAEOLOGY OF COOKING AND CUISINE. 4 pts. Instructor: Camilla Sturm.
Prerequisites: None Humans don’t just eat to live. The ways we prepare, eat, and share our food is a complex reflection of our histories, environments, and ideologies. Whether we prefer coffee or tea, cornbread or challah, chicken breast or chicken feet, our tastes are expressive of social ties and social boundaries, and are linked to ideas of family and of foreignness. How did eating become such a profoundly cultural experience? This seminar takes an archaeological approach to two broad issues central to eating: First, what drives human food choices both today and in the past? Second, how have social forces shaped practices of food acquisition, preparation, and consumption (and how, in turn, has food shaped society)? We will explore these questions from various evolutionary, physiological, and cultural viewpoints, highlighted by information from the best archaeological and historic case studies. Topics that will be covered include the nature of the first cooking, beer-brewing and feasting, writing of the early recipes, gender roles and ‘domestic’ life, and how a national cuisine takes shape. Through the course of the semester we will explore food practices from Pleistocene Spain to historic Monticello, with particular emphasis on the earliest cuisines of China, Mesoamerica, and the Mediterranean.

Anthropology UN3723x AMERICAN MATERIAL CULTURE. 4 pts. Instructor: Severin Fowles. This seminar provides an intensive introduction to material culture analysis and its potential in the study of American history. As such, our focus is methodological. Through a mixture of lecture-style presentations and seminar discussions, we consider texts that give intellectual shape to the central questions in modern material culture studies and exemplify a range of applications demonstrating how to engage in serious object-based research. Classroom inquiries will be supplemented by visits to NYC museums (e.g., the American Museum of Natural History and the 9/11 Museum), laboratory practicums (in which we will consider the material remains of a Spanish colonial village, a 1960s Hippie commune, and trash from the Occupy Wall Street movement), and an analysis of consumption patterns and waste streams on Barnard’s campus (otherwise known as “garbology”).

Anthropology UN3812x ACCUSING CORPSE-FORENSIC TRACE.  4 pts.  Instructor:  Zoe Crossland.  This colloqium explores the history of forensic anthropology, and the ways in which it produces the body as evidence. We will consider how truth claims are made based on the evidence of the dead body and follow the ways in which the evidence of the dead is explained and delineated for peers and for different publics by forensic anthropologists. The course will also trace the history and background to forensic anthropology and explore the assumptions around race and ancestry that were folded into its methods and which remain a part of forensic anthropological practice today.  Priorities:  Majors and concentrators in Anthropology and Interdepartmental program in Archaeology. The permission of the instructor is required.

Anthropology UN3823x ARCHAEOLOGY ENGAGED: PAST IN PUB EYE. 3 pts. Instructor: 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.

Anthropology/History GU4001x THE ANCIENT EMPIRES. 3 pts. Instructor: 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.

 

CROSS LISTED CLASSES:

CSER UN3935x HISTORY OF THE US-MEXIC0 BORDER. 4 pts. Instructor: Claudio Lomnitz. In the 1990s, the study of border crossing became an academic rage in the humanities and the social sciences. This was a consequence of globalization, an historical process that reconfigured the boundaries between economy, society and culture; it was also a primary theme of post-modernism, that celebrated the playful combination of disparate historical references. As a result, interest in the US-Mexican border increased dramatically, since that border is the longest and most intensively crossed in the world. The US-Mexico border became a paradigmatic point of reference for an emerging field of Border Studies. Until then, places like Tijuana or El Paso, with their rather seedy reputations, had been of interest principally to local residents, now, all of a sudden, they touted as examples of post-modern “hybridity,” and were supposed to inspire the transnational scholarship that was required. Indeed, the US-Mexican border itself became a symbol, a movable imaginary boundary that marks ethnic and racial distinction in American and Mexican cities. Things have changed since then. Attitudes toward globlization are no longer as cheery, and transnational immigration has become a political football. Sealing off the US-Mexico border has become a popular campaign promise. In the years since 1990, border towns became famously violent and the border acquired a dystopian image. This course is an introduction to the historical formation of the US-Mexican border, from the 19th-century to the present.

For a list of Independent Research Courses in Anthropology and Archaeology, please refer to the Directory of Classes at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/ 

 

 

 

For information on class days and times, enrollment limits, enrollment status, course fees and classroom locations, visit the Online Directory of Classes at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/  

Registration begins for most Schools on Monday, April 15, 2024.

 

COURSES IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY:

Anthropology GU4196x MEXICO’S DISAPPEARED PRACTICUM. 3 pts. Instructor: Claudio Lomnitz. This practicum is an exercise in engaged pedagogy. The academic work we do will be conducted for the benefit of the cause of Mexico's now over 110,000 disappeared persons. Students will be engaged in a sustained research effort to development a "context analysis" of disappearances in the state of Zacatecas (Mexico)-- an exercise in social study that focuses on the economic, political, social, and criminological context in which disappearances occur. Research is done in coordination with Mexico's National Commission for the Search of the Disappeared. Alongside the practical, real-world, objective, this Practicum is designed to perfect research skills in the social sciences.
PREREQUISITE: Spanish language comprehension is compulsory for 60% of those enrolled. The instructor’s permission is required.

Anthropology GU4378x STRANGE RESONANCES, CLOSE LISTENING. 3 pts. Instructor: John Pemberton. How does one live with sound and move within worlds of sound? In pursuit of this question the course explores: soundscapes and sound arts; echoes of audible pasts and resonances of auditory cultures; sound and the uncanny; repetitive listening in the age of electronic reproduction, ethereal transmissions, and audio-vision; sounds at the edges of listening with experimental music and sonic installations. Sound, chambers, noise, feedback, voice, resonance, silence: from the sirens of the Odyssey, to compositional figures ala John Cage, to contemporary everyday acoustical encounters, if one were to really listen, closely, how might one write about sound? How might one rethink the ties between sound and image? How then might one think with sound, and through sound? The permission of the instructor is required.

Anthropology GR5116x SETTLER COLONIALISM. 4 pts. Instructor: Audra Simpson. This course examines the relationship between colonialism, settlement and anthropology and the specific ways in which these processes have been engaged in the broader literature and locally in North America. We aim to understand colonialism as a theory of political legitimacy, as a set of governmental practices and as a subject of inquiry. Thus, we will re-imagine North America in light of the colonial project and its technologies of rule such as education, law and policy that worked to transform Indigenous notions of gender, property and territory. Our case studies will dwell in several specific areas of inquiry, among them: the Indian Act in Canada and its transformations of gender relations, governance and property; the residential and boarding school systems in the US and Canada, the murdered and missing women in Juarez and Canada and the politics of allotment in the US. Although this course will be comparative in scope, it will be grounded heavily within the literature from Native North America. This course is open to advanced undergraduates (thesis writers preferred) with instructor’s permission.

Anthropology GR5201x PRIN/APPL OF SOCIETY & CULTURE. 3 pts. Instructor: Ellen Marakowitz. Prerequisites: graduate standing. Introductory survey of major concepts and areas of research in social and cultural anthropology. Emphasis is on both the field as it is currently constituted and its relationship to other scholarly and professional disciplines. Required for students in Anthropology Department's master degree program and for students in the graduate programs of other departments and professional schools desiring an introduction in this field. Required class for MA students in Anthropology. Other graduate students must contact the instructor at [email protected] for permission.

Anthropology GR6070x MAKING ETHNOG: METHOD & WRITING. 3 pts. Instructor: Sheng Long. This course begins with two central and related epistemological problems in conducting ethnographic research: first, the notion that objects of scientific research are ‘made’ through adopting a particular relational stance and asking certain kinds of questions. From framing a research problem and choosing a ‘research context’ story to tell, to the kinds of methods one selects to probe such a problem, the ‘how’ and ‘what’ – or means and content – are inextricably intertwined. A second epistemological problem concerns the artifice of reality, and the nebulous distinction between truth and fiction, no less than the question of where or with whom one locates such truth. With these issues framing the course, we will work through some key themes and debates in anthropology from the perspective of methodology, ranging from subject/object liminality to incommensurability and radical alterity to the politics of representation. Students will design an ethnographic project of their choosing and conduct research throughout the term, applying different methodological approaches popular in anthropology and the social sciences more generally, such as participant observation, semi-structured interview, diary-keeping and note-taking. Registration priority will be given to MA students in anthropology.

Anthropology GR6102x SEMIOTIC ANTHROPOLOGY II. 3 pts. Instructor: Elizabeth Povinelli. This course examines the canonical texts of modern semiology and semiotics from the perspective of anthropological methods and theories. Beginning with an extensive examination of the works of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce, the course examines the theoretical elaborations and movements of structuralism and pragmatism through the 1960s.Priority: PhD, MFA, MA. The instructor’s permission is required.

Anthropology GR6157x IDEA OF A BLACK RADICAL TRADITION.  3 pts.  Instructor:  David Scott.  This course will seek to raise and think through the following questions: What does it mean to talk today about a black radical tradition? What has it meant in the past to speak in these (or cognate) terms? And if we take the debate in part at least to inhabit a normative discursive space, an argumentative space in which to make claims on the moral-political present, what ought it to mean to talk about a black radical tradition?

Anthropology GR6171x PRE-ATLANTIC SLAVERY AFRICA AND SOUTH ASIA. 3 pts. Instructor: Mahmood Mamdani. This seminar on pre-Atlantic Slavery in Africa and Asia will focus on the history of captivity and bondage in modern and the premodern Africa. Conceptually, what is the difference between a captive and a slave? How has captivity been central to the history of social difference and state formation in premodern Africa? By introducing the student to the history of trade in captives within Africa and across the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the student will be encouraged to rethink premodern Africa as central to premodern world history rather than marginal to it. The permission of the instructor is required.

Anthropology GR6653x POROUS BODIES. 3pts. Instructor: Vanessa Agard-Jones. How are bodies in the world? How is the world in bodies? Building from these deceptively simple questions, ours will be an interdisciplinary reading seminar on how bodies (mostly human, but sometimes nonhuman) are made and remade in and through their environments and via their relationships to the material world. Privileging porosity as a rubric, we consider the ever-permeable boundaries between bodies and the other beings (be they viral, chemical, microbial or otherwise) with which they become entangled. Alongside the monographs under study, we will tackle article-length engagements with theories of new feminist/queer materialisms, decolonial and critical science studies. Further, a key aim of this course is to provide students the opportunity to hone some of the most important skills we have in our toolbox as academics, relative to our teaching, our public voice/s as critics, and to our own research. Prerequisite: Instructor’s permission.
To apply, please contact [email protected].

Anthropology GR6601x QUESTIONS-ANTHROP THRY I: TEXTS. 3 pts. Instructor: Rosalind Morris. Presents students with critical theories of society, paying particular attention to classic continental social theory of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will trace a trajectory through important French and German writings essential for any understanding of the modern discipline of anthropology: from Saussure through Durkheim and Mauss, Marx, Weber, and on to the structuralist elaboration of these theoretical perspectives in Claude Lévi-Strauss, always bearing in mind the relationship of these theories to contemporary anthropology. We come last to Foucault and affiliated theorists as successors both to French structuralism and to German social theory and its concerns with modernity, rationality, and power. Throughout the readings, we will give special care to questions of signification as they inform anthropological inquiry, and we will be alert to the historical contexts that situate the discipline of anthropology today. This is a required course only open to first-year PhD students in Anthropology.

COURSES IN ARCHAEOLOGY:

Anthropology/History GU4001x THE ANCIENT EMPIRES. 3 pts. Instructor: 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.

COURSES IN MUSEUM ANTHOPOLOGY:

Anthropology GR5361x ETHICAL ISSUES IN MUSEUMS. 3 pts. Instructor: Sally Yerkovich. Ethical questions about museum activities are legion, yet they are usually only discussed when they become headlines in newspapers. At the same time, people working in museums make decisions with ethical and legal issues regularly and seldom give these judgments even little thought. In part, this is due to the fact that many of these decisions are based upon values that become second nature. This course will explore ethical issues that arise in all areas of a museum's operations from governance and management to collections acquisition, conservation, and deaccessioning. We will examine the issues that arise when the ownership of objects in a museum's are questioned; the ethical considerations involved in retention, restitution and repatriation; and what decolonization means for museums. Required for MA students in the Museum Anthropology program. Other graduate students must get the permission of the instructor to register. No undergraduates are permitted to register.

Anthropology GR6352x MUSEUM ANTHROPOLOGY: HIST & THEORY. 3 pts. Instructor: Brian Boyd. This course will consider museums as reflectors of social priorities which store important objects and display them in ways that present significant cultural messages. Students visit several New York museums to learn how a museum functions.

Anthropology GR9110x MUSEUM ANTHROPOLOGY INTERNSHIP I. 3-9 pts. Instructor: 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. The Course is ONLY open to Museum Anthropology students. Not to be taken without permission of the program director, Professor Brian Boyd, usually after completing the Museum Anthropology core courses.

Anthropology GR9111x MUSEUM ANTHROPOLOGY INTERNSHIP II. 3-9 pts. Instructor: 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. The Course is ONLY open to Museum Anthropology students. Not to be taken without permission of the program director, Professor Brian Boyd, usually after completing the Museum Anthropology core courses.

Anthropology GR9999x WEDNESDAY SEMINAR. 0 Pts. Instructor: Zoe Crossland. Registration is mandatory for all Anthropology Ph.D. students who are registered for a full Residence Unit.