Graduate Courses - Spring 2017
ANT 507-000 : Human Biology
The course focuses on human biology as studied through the lens of anthropology, and aims to empower the student to think substantively, comparatively, and creatively about it. During the semester we will apply cultural, ecological and adaptationist perspectives to examine the interactions of social and biological factors in determining the causes and consequences of human variation, particularly in the production of differential well-being and experience. We first will examine foundational constructs such as life history, adaptation and trade-offs, ecocultural pathways, and cultural models. Then we turn to human development as a key to understanding how these constructs operate in the course of a life to yield differential outcomes. We move on to review a set of core body functions – reproductive, energetics, cardiovascular, immune, neuroendocrine, and central nervous system – alongside exemplars of major insights from human biology into how these functions are shaped by human experience and ecology (e.g., workloads, malnutrition, inequality). Thence we will trace how these effects translate into differential mental and physical health. A subtheme concerns measures and methods for pursuit of transdisciplinary biocultural studies with humans “in the wild”. We also review a series of field research programs that represent contemporary work.
E. P. Widmaier, H. Raff, K. T. Strang. Vander’s Human Physiology. New York: McGraw Hill.
Weekly articles from multiple primary and secondary sources.
Particulars: Classes follow a seminar format, including some structured input from the instructor as well as student presentations. Requirements include 3 presentations and short write-ups, and a single final paper.
ANT 508-000 : Culture and Mind
Culture and Mind considers the place of public cultural institutions and culturally-derived knowledge in a general theory of mind. A synthesis of traditional Symbolic Anthropology and Cognitive Anthropology, the course deals with the relationship between the content of cultural knowledge and the forms in which it is encoded. The course attempts to bridge the “objectivist” view of culture as public institutions and artifacts “in the world” with the “experientialist” vision of culture as cognitive models “in the mind.” Readings will draw from the classic literature in cognitive and symbolic anthropology, as well as more recent work from anthropology on cultural models and related work in psychology and linguistics. The focal topics in the course are:
- A cognitively nuanced conception of culture.
- The evolutionary history of the modern human mind
- The psychic unity doctrine and its implications for anthropology.
- Culture and memory: collective/social Memory
- The social distribution of cultural knowledge.
- Activity Theory: cultural learning and practice.
- The body in the mind: The role of embodiment in cultural knowledge.
- Culture, rationality and the problem of “primitive thought”
- The origins of belief: How cultural knowledge becomes shared and credible.
- Narrative and Meaning construction.
- Bahloul, Joelle, The Architecture of Memory: A Jewish-Muslim Household in Colonial Algeria, 1937-1962
- Bruner, Jerome, Acts of Meaning
- Connerton, Paul, How Societies Remember
- Donald, Merlin, The Origins of the Modern Mind
- Hutchins, Edwin, Cognition in the Wild
- Johnson, Mark, The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason
- Lave, Jean, and Etienne Wenger, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation
- Levi-Strauss, Claude, The Savage Mind
- Luhrmann, Tanya, Persuasions of the Witches’ Craft
- Schieffelin, Edward, The Sorrow of the Lonely and the Burning of the Dancers
- Shore, Bradd, Culture in Mind: Meaning Construction and Cultural Cognition
- Strauss, Claudia and Naomi Quinn, A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning
- Boas, Franz, The Mind of Primitive Man, Chaps. 10, 11
- Geertz, Clifford, “The Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind”
- Levy-Bruhl, Lucien, from How Natives Think
- Littleton, C. Scott, "Levy-Bruhl and the Concept of Cognitive Relativity"
- Shore, Bradd “Human Nature and Human Variation: The Unnatural History of a False Dichotomy”
ANT 585-000 : Special Topics: Theory and Ethnography in the New Millennium
This course examines trends in ethnography and socio-cultural theory since the turn of the new millennium. We will focus both on the new directions that anthropologists are endeavoring to map out as well as continuities in the theory and practice of fieldwork and the anthropological enterprise more generally since the latter part of the 20th century.
One of our points of departure will be the two-fold argument that, for a number of reasons having to do mostly with the nature of the current world order, “fieldwork is not what it used to be”; and that new modes of engagement with our interlocutors in the (variably defined) “field” are therefore both necessary and desirable. Course readings will focus on book-length ethnographies that, taken collectively, demonstrate an important range of contemporary engagements with themes addressed by foundational theorists such as Weber, Gramsci, Foucault, and Bourdieu. Topics to be explored include different understandings of “engaged” anthropology”; different approaches to understanding and writing about the ways in which variably gendered and sexed subjects are embodied; and the contributions that anthropology can make to our understanding of contemporary societies and cultures in relation to processes of modernity and neoliberal globalization. One of the more general objectives of the course is to help students develop an understanding of anthropology’s relevance in the new millennium.
ANT 585-001 : Special Topics: Evolution of the Human Brain and Cognition
The purpose of the course is to provide an in-depth exploration of scientific approaches to the evolution of human intelligence. This is an inherently interdisciplinary undertaking and our focus will be on integrating evidence and approaches from fields including biological and cultural anthropology, comparative psychology, archaeology, evolutionary biology and neuroscience. Special attention will be paid to the nature of the available evidence, established methods of investigation, and challenges faced by researchers. The course is taught in a seminar format. There is one required text; other assigned reading will be available as PDF files.
ANT 585-002 : Special Topics: Mixed Methods Research in Anthropology
This course is designed for graduate students who are interested in undertaking original systematic research in anthropology. The course aims to supply students with a tool kit of techniques that range across the exploratory to the confirmatory spectrum. Through a hands-on approach we will cover topics including but not limited to: sampling, research ethics, freelisting and other semi structured data collection techniques, pile sorting, triad tests, time allocation, the design and delivery of surveys, the construction and assessment of scales, data management, cultural consensus modeling, text analysis, and some very basic statistical techniques. This is not a course on ethnographic methods nor is a course on statistics; it best described as a course on the design and analysis of systematic mixed methods projects in anthropology.
ANT 585-003 : Special Topics: Development and Change
There are few contemporary topics that invoke as many polarizing opinions and emotions as that of development. While it remains a contested field, it continues to attract considerable scholarly and applied interest in anthropology and other social sciences. This course examines anthropological and social science contributions to understandings of development and underdevelopment and addresses the different theories, critiques, and "schools" of development studies; ethnographic research on selected themes of development; and the institutional actors that shape the discourses, policies, and activities of development. The course is intended to cover both the theoretical and policy aspects of development anthropology and to challenge students to think critically about development problems and the narratives that inform policy and development processes. By focusing on both critiques and development policies, it attempts to provide a somewhat balanced picture of a field that often is characterized by moral polemics and a great deal of miscommunication and stereotyping.
The course recognizes that the literature on development and change is voluminous and increasing as quickly as any field in the social sciences. For this reason, it is not possible, nor desirable to cover all the relevant areas of development studies. Instead, the course has opted for a select number of topics, such as markets, policy reform, and states, that highlight innovative research and approaches to development, as well as areas where anthropological contributions are especially prominent. The course will emphasize ethnographies of different aspects of development, with the majority of them authored by anthropologists. It is designed as an advanced graduate seminar and requires that students actively participate in class and come to class prepared to discuss the week’s readings.
ANT 585-004 : Special Topics: Unarchived Histories
Crosslisted as HIST 585-004/MESAS 570-000
ANT 585-00P : Feminist and Queer Ethnographies
Crosslisted as WGS 587
Contact Marybeth Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll.
In Feminist and Queer Ethnographies we will address how feminist and queer theories, activism, and politics affect and alter ethnographic projects, methods, and writing. We will read contemporary ethnographies that address questions of representation, affect, intersectionality, positionality, globalization, desires, and community. We will put feminist and queer theories in conversation with each other to see where and why they converge and digress and how that impacts the ways that the anthropological project plays out. We will be interested in the contemporary state of both subfields and the key questions, debates, and theoretical and methodological innovations and disagreements that have emerged over time. We will address what makes a project feminist and/or queer and how and when theorists choose (or not) to link their work to larger political discourses and practices. We will engage the key theorists, terms, and histories that emerge in queer and feminist writings, as well as what genealogies authors situate themselves in.
ANT 797R: Directed Study
ANT 798R: Advanced Research