Undergraduate Courses Fall 2019


                               Socio-Cultural 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

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

For Registration Dates refer to: http://registrar.columbia.edu/

For Cross-Registration Information refer to:  http://registrar.columbia.edu/content/cross-registration


Courses in Sociocultural Anthropology


ANTH UN1002x The Interpretation of Culture.  3pts. Audra Simpson as3575@columbia.edu.  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. Enrollment limit is 120. Discussion Sections are required.  These will be announced during the change of program period.

ANTH UN1009x Introduction to Language and Culture.  3pts. Gretchen Pfeil gpfeil@barnard.edu. This is an introduction to the study of the production, interpretation, and reproduction of social meanings as expressed through language. In exploring language in relation to culture and society, it focuses on how communication informs and transforms the sociocultural environment. Enrollment limit is 120.

ANTH UN2004x Introduction to Social and Cultural Theory. 3pts.  John PembertonIntroduces students to crucial theories of society, paying particular attention to classic social theory of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Traces a trajectory through writings essential for an understanding of the social: from Saussure, Durkheim, Mauss, Marx, Freud, and Weber, on to the structuralist ethnographic elaboration of Claude Levi-Strauss, the historiographic reflections on modernity of Michel Foucault, and contemporary modes of socio-cultural analysis. Explored are questions of signification at the heart of anthropological inquiry, and to the historical contexts informing these questions. Enrollment limit is 100.

ANTH UN2026x On Precarity.  3pts.  Maria José 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.  Enrollment limit is 30.  Enrollment priorities:  ANTHROPOLOGY-INTRODUCTION TO SOCIO & CULTURAL THEORY

ANTH UN3035x Religion in Chinese Society.  3pts.  Myron Cohen. Chinese popular religion and ritual during the late traditional period and in modern times. Popular beliefs and practices concerning the cosmos, the gods, and the ancestors; the role in popular religion of Buddhism, Taoism, and the Imperial State Cult; popular religion, social change, and the modern assault on "superstition."  Enrollment limit is 30.

ANTH UN3040x Anthropological Theory.  4pts.  Lesley Sharp. 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.  Enrollment limit is 40.

ANTH UN3763x Aids, The Arts, and Body Cultures.  4 pts.  Jonathon Robinson-Apels.  Relations between AIDS activists and AIDS artists in challenging Western theories of immunology and immune suppression.  Critique of linkages between LGBTQ communities and the pharmaceutical industry.  Focus on subcultures within China, India, Haiti, Nigeria, and the U.S. where indigenous and folkloric responses to HIV transmission are employed, often alongside Western medicines.  Review of research of anthropologists and public health officials who have reconceptualized HIV from the phenomenological vantage of lived experience and somatic awareness.  Body practices, rites, and herbal protocols utilized in tandem with Western HIV medications, that is, embodied healing practices such as: dance and movement structures, shaking and miracle cures, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Yoga.  Response of anthropologists to AIDS in its first decade contrasted with 2019.  Sensation of illness in relation to artistic expression.  Site visits to performances and art exhibits when feasible. Priority given to ANTH Majors, others need instructor's permission. Enrollment limit is 15.  Email:  jr2168@columbia.edu

ANTH UN3811x Toxic.  4pts.   Vanessa Agard-Jones.  It is no secret by now that we live in a toxic sea. Every day, in every place in this world, we are exposed to an unknown number of contaminants, including those in the places that we live, the air that we breathe, the foods that we eat, the water that we drink, the consumer products that we use, and in the social worlds that we navigate. While we are all exposed, the effects of these exposures are distributed in radically unequal patterns, and histories of racialization, coloniality, and gendered inequality are critical determinants of the risks to wellness that these toxic entanglements entail. Scientists use the term "body burden" to describe the accumulated, enduring amounts of harmful substances present in human bodies. In this course, we explore the global conditions that give rise to local body burdens, plumbing the history of toxicity as a category, the politics of toxic exposures, and the experience of toxic embodiment. Foregrounding uneven exposures and disproportionate effects, we ask how scientists and humanists, poets and political activists, have understood toxicity as a material and social phenomenon. We will turn our collective attention to the analysis of ethnographies, memoirs, maps, film, and photography, and students will also be charged with creating visual and narrative projects for representing body burden of their own. Enrollment limit is 14.  Prerequisite:  Student must obtain the permission of the Instructor.  To register, contact Professor Agard-Jones vaj2116@columbia.edu

ANTH UN3861x Anthropology of the Anthropocene.  4 pts.   Patrick Nason.  This course focuses on the political ecology of the Anthropocene. As multiple publics become increasingly aware of the extensive and accelerated rate of current global environmental change, and the presence of anthropogenesis in ever expanding circumstances, we need to critically analyze the categories of thought and action being developed in order to carefully approach this change. Our concern is thus not so much the Anthropocene as an immutable fact, inevitable event, or definitive period of time (significant though these are), but rather for the political, social, and intellectual consequences of this important idea. Thus we seek to understand the creativity of "The Anthropocene" as a political, rhetorical, and social category. We also aim to examine the networks of capital and power that have given rise to the current state of planetary change, the strategies for ameliorating those changes, and how these are simultaneously implicated in the rhetorical creation of "The Anthropocene". Instructor's permission is required and enrollment limit is 30.

ANTH BC3871x Senior Thesis Semibar.  4 pts.  Lesley Sharp, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Severin Fowles 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.  Enrollment limit is 30.

ANTH UN3888x Ecocriticism for the End Times.  4 pts.   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 Zizek's 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 professor's 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.  Enrollment limit is 15. The instructor's permission is required.

ANTH BC3911x Social Contexts Immigration Law.  4 pts.  JC Salyer. Examines the historical and contemporary social, economic, and political factors that shape immigration law and policy along with the social consequences of those laws and policies.  Addresses the development and function of immigration law and aspects of the immigration debate including unauthorized immigration, anti-immigration sentiments, and critiques of immigration policy.  Requires the instructor's permission.  Enrollment limit is 25.

ANTH BC3932x Climate Change, Global Migration, and Human Rights. 4 pts.  Patrick Nason.

ANTH UN3952x Taboo and Transgression.  4pts. Michael Taussig.  The transgression of taboos is the basis of crime, sex, and religion in any society. As "the labor of the negative", transgression is also a critical element in thought itself. Working through anthropology of sacrifice and obscenity, as well as relevant work by Bataille, Foucault, and Freud, this course aims at understanding why taboos exist and why they must be broken.  Enrollment limit is 45.

ANTH UN3957x Ethnography of the Everyday.  4pts.  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. Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH UN3989x Introduction to Urban Anthropology.  4pts.  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 20.

ANTH UN3999x Senior Thesis Seminar in Anthropology 4pts.  Lila Abu-Lughod. This two-term course is a combination of a seminar and a workshop that will help you conduct research, write, and present an original senior thesis in anthropology. Students who write senior theses are eligible for 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 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 and begun research, 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 are geared toward exploring a variety of models of excellent anthropological or ethnographic work. In the second semester, weekly meetings will be devoted to the collaborative refinement of drafts, as well as working through issues of writing (evidence, voice, authority, integration of theory, 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 3.7 GPA in the major and a preliminary project concept in order to be considered. Interested students must 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. Only those students who have completed the fall semester portion of the course are allowed to register for the spring. Permission to enroll is determined by the Instructor of the fall semester seminar and is contingent upon successful completion of the first semester requirements as well as assessment by the instructor on whether the student's project has progressed far enough to be completed in the spring semester. If the determination is that that project has not developed sufficiently as a thesis, the student will exit the seminar after one semester, with a grade based on the work completed during the fall term.  Enrollment limit is 15.  Instructor approval is required for registration each semester.

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.. Instructor’s permission is required. Enrollment limit is 20.  Enrollment priorities: Majors preferred.




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Courses in Archaeology

ANTH UN1007x Origins of Human Society.  3 pts. Severin Fowles.   An archaeological perspective on the evolution of human social life from the first bipedal step of our ape ancestors to the establishment of large sedentary villages. While traversing six million years and six continents, our explorations will lead us to consider such major issues as the development of human sexuality, the origin of language, the birth of "art" and religion, the domestication of plants and animals, and the foundations of social inequality. Designed for anyone who happens to be human.  Mandatory recitation sections and $25.00 laboratory fee. Enrollment limit is150. 

ANTH UN3662x Art in Archaeological Practice.  4 pts. Jeffrey Benjamin. While comprising distinct and separate disciplines, art and archaeology share multiple theoretical and practical foundations. Many of these commonalities and overlapping concerns remain latent within
archaeological writings, whilst the domain of archaeological knowledge is often appropriated within artistic practice. The work of both of these companion disciplines converge within the museum or gallery context, demonstrating a shared platform of expression and acknowledgement. The goal of this course is to contribute to a growing conversation between art-making and archaeological research, to generate and reveal the numerous commonalities, shared goals as well as divergences.  Studio practice and reading/discussion will engage
class time.  Each weekly session will be devoted to a different thematic concern emerging from the writings of working artists and art historians paired with archaeological literature that addresses similar problems in similar ways, in particular the fascinating recent literature coming from the nascent field of Contemporary Archaeology.  Enrollment limit is 15.

ANTH UN3663x The Ancient Table: Archaeology of Cooking and Cuisine.  4 pts.  Camilla Sturm.  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, challah or cornbread, chicken breast or chicken feet, our tastes are expressive of social ties and social boundaries, and are linked to notions of family and of foreignness. How did eating become such a profoundly cultural experience? This seminar investigates this issue by exploring two interconnected questions: 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 archaeological and historic case studies. Topics that will be covered include the nature of the first cooking, beer-brewing and feasting, early recipe writing, 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. Enrollnent limit is 12.

ANTH UN3823x Archaeology Engaged: The Past in the Public Eye.  4pts. 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. Enrollment Priorities: Seniors and Juniors in ARCH or ANTH. 

ANHS GU4001x The Ancient Empires.  3pts.  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.  Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.

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


Courses in Biological/Physical Anthropology

No courses in Biological/Physical anthropology offered fall term 2019

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Undergraduate Research Course

ANTH UN3997x Supervised Individual Research.  3-6 pts.  Prerequisite: the written permission of the staff member under whose supervision the research will be conducted. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/




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