Graduate Courses Fall 2019


                               Socio-Cultural Anthropology



       Physical Anthropology
           Research Courses

This schedule is subject to change

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Academic Calendar

Early Registration (Monday, April 15-Friday, April 19, 2019)

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Courses in Sociocultural Anthropology


ANTH GU4118x Settler Colonialism in North America. 3pts. 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.   Enrollment limited to 15. Upper level ugrads with background in poli theory and anthropological theory.   

ANTH GU4142x Language, Culture, Power.  3pts. Elizabeth Povinelli.   This course examines structuralist and pragmatist, Poststructuralist and post-pragmatist approaches to language and culture and their availability to a critical analysis of social power. The course is genealogical in spirit, beginning with a set of texts that have provided the touchstone for contemporary language and semiotic theory. Insofar as contemporary critical theory continues to return to these texts, they continue to provide an origination of possible openings and blockages to theories of power.  Enrollment limit is 20.  Enrollment priority:  Anth major and other majors preferred.

ANTH GR5201x Principles and Applications of Social and Cultural Anthropology.  3pts. Ellen Marakowitz.  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.  Course open to for Mas in Anthropology.  Others must email

ANTH GR6070x Making Ethnography: Method and Writing 3pts. Elizabeth Turk.  This course offers a hands-on introduction to key methods of ethnographic fieldwork while exploring both practical and critical questions raised by the production of ethnographic knowledge. Students will become familiar with the diverse techniques collected under the heading of 'ethnographic research' and will put these into action through a series of mini-research assignments. These assignments-and the successes, failures, surprises, disappointments and dilemmas students encounter in carrying them out-also provide the raw material through which we consider the epistemological and ethical possibilities and limits of ethnographic knowledge. Thus we take up ethnographic fieldwork and writing as situated practices with powerful histories, rather than as neutral methodological tools. Readings include examples of various kinds of ethnographic text (including images) and critical reflections on ethnography itself. Mini research assignments comprise a scaled-down dry run of ethnography making, giving students practice at preparing research proposals, conducting field observation and interviews, and turning these into contextualized ethnographic texts. 

ANTH GR6170x Law, History, and Anthropology. 3pts.  Brinkley Messick.   The study of legal institutions, the utilization of case materials, and the critical analysis of legal texts. Recent social historical and ethnographic work on trial procedures, evidence regimes, legal writing, interpretation, and disciplinary systems. Non-Western, premodern and colonial materials shed comparative light on Western notions of law, truth and justice. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6173x Exploring the Idea of Secular Reason. 3 pts. Talal Asad.  Much has been written on secularism as a political solution to intolerance and a necessary condition for promoting equality and democracy. Scholars have also directed our attention to secularity as a sensibility and a mode of reasoning that pervades our age, as identified in literature and in the history of religion. Anthropologists, historians and students of religion have increased our understanding of different “religious” experiences, institutions and cosmologies. And excellent studies of the development of modern science are now available. But more needs to be done on the theme of “secular reason,” especially as it appears to crystalize at once in opposition to and as a modality of a general phenomenon called “religion.” In this seminar, we want to investigate several meanings of “secular reason.” We will read and discuss the emergence of theories of probability and the use of numerical techniques to describe, classify and predict the behavior of enemies, citizens and customers, as well as to explain how “natural systems,” including the universe itself, work. We will also read specifically about some transformations of categories from “religious” to “secular” (or what is often translated as: from “subjective” to “objective”) that have made the use of calculative reasoning, and the speed with which it can be conducted, more plausible and more rewarding (literally). Finally, we will also read and discuss recent studies on scientific paradigms that are presented in sharp opposition to religious thinking.  The course is only open to Graduate students. Registration Permission is required.  Contact Professor Asad

ANTH GR6245x Personhood. 3pts.  MariaJose de Abreu.  This seminar seeks to engage with materials that question personhood. Drawing on both fictional and non-fictional accounts, we will be involved with textual and visual documents as well institutional contexts in order to revisit such notion under contemporary capitalism. We will cover topics like rites of passage and life cycle, the role of the nation state and local communities in defining a person, the relation between self and non-self, between the living and the dead. We will likewise address vicarious forms of personhood through the prosthetic, the avatar or the anonymous. But we will also look into forms of dissipation of personhood and unreliable agency where subjects become more like a medium through which to think rhythms and ongoing infrastructures of the living. As a whole, the course will bring to light how the question of personhood cross-culturally relates to language, performativity, religion, law, gender, race, class, care, life and death.

ANTH GR6248x Decolonization Methodology. 3pts. Paige West.  The goals of this graduate seminar are multiple. First, we will critically examine the ways in which research has been conducted and how research methodology has been taught in anthropology. Second, we will, drawing on the work of indigenous scholars and critics of the colonial nature of anthropological practice and discourse, attempt to theorize new forms of social inquiry that do not replicate the historic injustices of anthropological research, representation, and the material consequences of the two. Third, we will critically examine the assumed relationship between European social theory and the lived experiences of indigenous peoples by comparing various theories of space and place. Finally, each student will produce a draft of a dissertation research proposal.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6294x Political Concepts in the Wake of Geontopower. 4pts. Elizabeth Povinelli.   It’s hot and it’s getting hotter. As the machinery of capital extraction, industrialism, and consumption refuses to relinquish its grip, meteorological temperatures continue to rise and chemical hot zones spread. Tipping points threaten regime shifts in which the qualitative nature of the earth’s biosphere will alter. But until then, and even after then, hot zones occur in the aggregate only in abstraction. In reality they form like weather clouds over specific places—toxic smog over Beijing, lead poisoning in drinking water in Flint, Michigan, uranium exposure in Navajo and Hopi lands. Marx thought the social dialectic was leading to the purification of the fundamental opposition of human classes. No little evidence can be mustered to support the claim that we are nearing this moment—the world seems to be splitting into ever more extreme halves—the one percent and the ever-increasing precariate. But what many believe we are witnessing a new form of antagonism and which demands new modes of solidarity. The new swelter seems to them less fundamentally a war of class—although also a class war, although definitely not a clash of civilization—and more a clash of existents. And in this new war of the world, everyone must decide with whom (or what) we are making ties of solidarity. With whom or what will we stake our claim? Enrollment limit is 20.

ANTH GR6305x Art, Aesthetics, and the Political. 3pts. Marilyn Ivy.  A central concern of modern theory and philosophy is the place of the aesthetic and its relationship to feelings and politics. How are feelings articulated with aesthetic judgments? How do different aesthetic apprehensions shade into different affective experiences? What are the political implications of these aesthetico-affective complexes, particularly under conditions of advanced capitalism, virtualization, and mass mediation? Starting with Longinus's On the Sublime and Kant's philosophy of the beautiful and the sublime, the course will consider aesthetico-affective experiences left out of formal philosophy but important in everyday life. Minor aesthetic concepts like the uncanny, the grotesque, and the cute will be intermixed with consideration of affects like anxiety, stupefaction, and hopefulness. Examples, cases, and inspiration are drawn from life in the United States (and elsewhere), from fiction, music, art, and film; disciplinary approaches are taken from literary criticism, anthropology, psychoanalysis, and philosophy. Theoretical readings include works by Kant, Hegel, Freud, Lyotard, Gasch, Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze, and others. Enrollment limit is 15.  The instructor's permission is required.

ANTH GR6355x Limits of Liberalism. 3pts. Partha Chatterjee and Akeel Bilgrami.  This graduate seminar will explore different angles of criticism of the various ideas and doctrines that have accumulated over the last three centuries under the omnibus label ‘liberalism’. Its approach will be part intellectual history and part analytical.  One question that will inform our inquiry is whether these criticisms should be seen as dissenting positions within the political Enlightenment, wrestling with a dominant ‘liberal’ tradition within it, or whether their logic leads to a more radical refusal of the entire framework of Enlightenment modernity. Though most of the readings are works of theory, a serious attempt will be made to situate theoretical themes in the political and cultural contexts of particular parts of the world, both in the past and the present.   Enrollment limit is 20.   Primarily Graduates. A few Senior Undergrads may Apply for admission.

ANME GR6406x The Modern State and the Colonial Subject.  3pts.   Mahmood Mamdani. On the development of legal thought on the colonial subject. Focus on the American Indian in the New World, post-1857 India, indirect rule in post-Mahdciyya Sudan and South Africa, and Israel/Palestine. Enrollment limit is 15. Prerequisite: the Instructor’s permission.

ANTH GR6500x The Art of Fieldwork. 3pts.   Michael Taussig.  Fieldwork is what defines anthropology yet is rarely, if ever, discussed. Why? Why so invisible? Is it an art or a science or what, and what happens between f/w and the published text? What is the literary work of the f/w diary? Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR6601x Questions in Anthropological Theroy I.  3 pts.  David Scott.  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.

ANTH GR6653x Porous Bodies.  3pts. 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 Professor Agard-Jones  Enrollment limit is 14.

ANTH GR8498x Modern China.  3pts. Myron Cohen.  Selected themes in the analysis of Chinese society during late imperial and modern times.


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Courses in Archaeology

ANHS GU4001x The Ancient Empires. 3pts.  Terence D’Altroy.  This course provides a comparative study of five of the world's most prominent ancient empires: Assyria, Egypt, Rome, the Aztecs, and the Inkas. The developmental histories of those polities, and their essential sociopolitical, economic, and ideological features, are examined in light of theories of the nature of early empires and methods of studying them.  Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.

ANTH GU4346x Laboratory Techniques in Archaeology. 3pts.  Prof. Camilla Sturm.  Training in general archaeological methods. Data recording techniques, preparation of reports and illustration, etc. Enrollment limit is 16.

ANTH GR6103x  Method and Theory in Archaeology.  3pts.  Prof. Severin Fowles.  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.


Courses in Museum Anthropology

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ANTH GR5361x Ethical Issues in Museums.  3pts.  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. Corequisite Course:  ANTH GR6352 MUSEUM ANTHROP: HIST & THEORY.  Enrollment Priorities: Required Class for Museum Anthropology MA graduate students, others must have instructor permission.Note:  Permission required for undergrads & students not in Museum Anth program.

ANTH GR6352x Museum Anthropology: History and Theory. 3pts. 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.

ANTH GR6652x Digital Media, Materiality and Cultural Practice.  3pts. Marco Castro Cosio. Class sessions will include the discussion of assigned readings, multimedia, and digital resources, as well as short lectures. Each student will co-lead one discussion section during the term. During most classes, there will be presentation and discussion of student assignments. In this course, we will learn how to digitally map and visualize museum systems and use this knowledge to facilitate a visitor’s journey from thinking to making. In the first part of the semester readings, class discussion and weekly “experiments” will be used to investigate how mapping, sketching, and modeling techniques can help develop sustainable frameworks for exhibition. In the second part of the semester, we will begin modeling solutions and use these models to refine the way we communicate them to various stakeholders and audiences. Ultimately, the course aims to help students clearly articulate their thinking, explore ways of planning and communicating solutions and develop new models of engagement and action in an exhibition context. The class will combine lectures, seminars, field observation and prototyping.  Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor’s permission is required (

ANTH GR9110x Museum Anthropology Internship I.  3-6 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 director, usually after completing the Museum Anthropology core courses. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH GR9111x Museum Anthropology Internship II. 3-6 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 director, usually after completing the Museum Anthropology core courses.  Enrollment limit is 15.


Courses in Biological/Physical Anthropology

No courses in Biological/Physical anthropology offered fall term 2019

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Graduate Research Courses

ANTH GR9999x Wednesday Seminar.  0 pts.  Prof. Nadia Abu El-Haj.  Registration is only open to Anthropology PhD students in residence.  All others graduate students in Anthropology are required to attend. Reports of ongoing research are presented by staff members, students, and special guests Graduate Independent Research Courses in Anthropology:  Please refer to the online directory of courses at:  Please refer to the online directory of courses

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



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