ANTH-GA/RELST-GA 1001: Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Professor Angela Zito
Students explore fundamental theoretical and methodological issues for the academic study of religion, including some of the more important theories of the origin, character, and function of religion as a human phenomenon. Students cover psychological, sociological, anthropological, dialectical, post-colonial and feminist approaches, as well as some problems for the study of religion today: secularization theory and the intersection of religion and media. Departmental permission required.
ANTH-GA 1215: Culture & Media I
Professor Faye Ginsburg
This course offers a critical revision of the history of the genre of ethnographic film, the central debates it has engaged around cross-cultural representation, and the theoretical and cinematic responses to questions of the screen representation of culture, from the early romantic constructions of Robert Flaherty to current work in film, television, and video on the part of indigenous people throughout the world. Ethnographic film has a peculiar and highly contested status within anthropology, cinema studies, and documentary practice. This seminar situates ethnographic film within the wider project of the representation of cultural lives, and especially of natives. Starting with what are regarded as the first examples of the genre, the course examines how these emerged in a particular intellectual context and political economy. It then considers the key works that have defined the genre, and the epistemological and formal innovations associated with them, addressing questions concerning social theory, documentary, as well as the institutional structures through which they are funded, distributed, and seen by various audiences. Throughout, the course keeps in mind the properties of film as a signifying practice, its status as a form of anthropological knowledge, and the ethical and political concerns raised by cross-cultural representation.
ANTH-GA 1218: VIDEO PRODUCTION I
Professor Margaret Vail
Yearlong seminar in ethnographic documentary video production using state-of-the-art digital video equipment for students in the Program in Culture and Media. The first portion of the course is dedicated to instruction, exercises, and reading familiarizing students with fundamentals of video production and their application to a broad conception of ethnographic and documentary approaches. Assignments undertaken in the fall raise representational, methodological, and ethical issues in approaching and working through an ethnographic and documentary project. Students develop a topic and field site for their project early in the fall term, begin their shooting, and complete a short (5- to 10-minute) edited tape by the end of the semester. This work should demonstrate competence in shooting and editing using digital camera/audio and Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing systems. Students devote the spring semester to intensive work on the project, continuing to shoot and edit, presenting work to the class, and completing their (approximately 20-minute) ethnographic documentaries. Student work is presented and critiqued during class sessions, and attendance and participation in group critiques and lab sessions is mandatory. Students should come into the class with project ideas already well-developed. Students who have not completed the work assigned in the first semester are not allowed to register for the second semester. There is no lab fee, but students are expected to provide their own videotapes. In addition to class time, there are regular technical lab sessions on the use of equipment.
ANTH-GA 1510: Integrative Paleoanthropology I
Professor Scott Williams
This course provides a detailed overview of the early stages of human evolution from the Miocene to the early Pleistocene, focusing on the fossil and archaeological record of the earliest hominins up to and including early Homo in East and South Africa. It emphasizes the anatomical, phylogenetic, and behavioral traits of Plio-Pleistocene hominins in Africa. Special topics include: a critical review of recently described fossils purported to be early hominins from the late Miocene of Africa; an introduction to phylogenetic methods, geochronology, and the evidence used to reconstruct global climate change; comparative morphology and tool-using behavior of extant hominoids; the earliest tool industries; models of early hominin dietary behavior; functional morphology and locomotor behavior; and debates surrounding early hominin biogeography, taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships. Students will supplement their reading of the primary literature with the study of comparative skeletal materials and casts of early hominins in the laboratory.
ANTH-GA 1516: Osteology
Professor Susan Antón
An in-depth survey of the various ways in which biological anthropologists employ human osteology, the study of bones and the skeleton. In addition to presenting a detailed review of the anatomy of the human skeleton and its associated musculature, examines a series of thematic issues and topics that emphasize the multidisciplinary nature of the study of skeletal morphology. Topics include bone biology and development, comparative osteology, biomechanics, bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, and taphonomy. Course cannot be taken
on its own; the course MUST be taken with ANTH-GA 1521
ANTH-GA 1251: Osteology Lab
Professor Susan Antón
Human Osteology Laboratory provides an intensive, 2 point, lab-based practical partner course to ANTH GA:1516 (Introduction to Human Osteology and Odontology). The laboratory emphasizes identification of fragmentary human remains, interpretation of anatomical features from bone, and differentiation of human and non-human remains. This hands-on lab will include weekly practical lab write-ups, weekly for-credit and practice quizzes and a final practical lab exam. By the end of this course you should be able to identify and side fragmentary human skeletal remains; differentiate human from nonhuman fragments and adult from subadult human remains; name and recognize normal muscle attachment sites and other bone features, their associated soft tissues and function and pathological manifestations. This knowledge forms the underpinning for research in forensic anthropology, paleoanthropology, and human osteology and cognate areas. Course cannot be taken on its own; the course MUST be taken with ANTH-GA 1516.
ANTH-GA 1540: Research Design in Biological Anthropology
Prof. Susan Antón
Research Design in Biological Anthropology is an intense writing seminar with the goal of teaching the fundamentals required to develop and begin a scientific research project in biological anthropology. The weekly seminar will provide overviews of the structure of a research project, how to identify research problems, how to construct methods of addressing these problems, how to interpret the resulting data and how to present these data. This is not a course about data collection or analysis. This is a course about how to design, pitch (as to a grant agency or your supervisor) and then implement a strong research project in biological anthropology. The course will be hands-on, requiring students to write a scientific paper, peer-review the work of others in the course, and extensively revise their own work. Each week requires written submission of a subsection of a proposal/paper to the class, roundtable discussions and constructive peer-review. The course will conclude with a symposium of ‘meetings- style’ presentations of developed topics. Instructor approval is required to enroll.
ANTH-GA 1640: Elites: Power, Privilege, Dominance
Professor Tejaswini Ganti
Since Laura Nader’s classic essay, “Up the Anthropologist,” calls for studying elites have taken place in anthropology and yet the discipline is most readily identified with the study of subaltern, marginalized, or dispossessed peoples, so much so that ironically elites have been marginal within the discipline. However, paying attention to elites - whether they be social, cultural, economic, or political -- articulates with longstanding concerns about questions of power and privilege within anthropology. Through a focus on elites, this course examines how different forms of privilege, dominance, and power, are constituted, maintained, and reproduced across a variety of geographic and sociocultural contexts - from financial institutions, transnational organizations, and state bureaucracies to media industries, scientific laboratories, corporations, and educational institutions, just to list a few. Reading a range of classic and contemporary texts, the course will investigate the theoretical dimensions -- what constitutes elite status? How do we define or identify certain groups as elites? How do elites maintain their authority, status, and power over other social groups? -- as well as the methodological challenges of studying elites, which involve issues of access, complicity, reflexivity, and representation. The course will also reflect upon what unique perspectives anthropology can provide to the study of elites and the ways in which the study of elites can contribute to anthropology.
ANTH-GA 2229: Heritage, Memory, and Negotiating Temporality
Professor Jane Anderson
What is heritage, how is it produced and to what extent does it (re)arrange relationships between time, memory and identity? How do some heritages come to be memorialized and institutionalized and others excluded and rendered peripheral? This seminar will cover the historical development of the concept of heritage as well as exploring the genesis of international heritage administration, charters, conventions, and national heritage laws. It will highlight emerging trends and practices including exploring the concept of “social memory” and contrast it with the more formalized techniques of heritage didactics and curation. We will explore the increasing interest in “bottom-up” heritage programming that directly involves the general public in the formulation, collection, and public presentation of historical themes and subjects as an ongoing social activity. Case studies from different regions and social contexts will be explored: “conflicted heritage,” “minority heritage,” “indigenous heritage,” “diasporic heritage,” “sites of conscience,” long-term community planning and involvement in “eco-museums”, the relationship between heritage, development and tourism and public heritage interpretation centers. Students will be asked to address specific problems in sites or organizations presented during the course and will formulate socio-interpretive assessments of projects or research of their choosing in the U.S. or abroad.
ANTH-GA 2349: Semiotics
Professor Sonia Das
This course explores how theories of sign relations, also known as “semiotics,” elucidate practices and processes of representation, interpretation, and classification pertaining to the construction of everyday social life and cultural forms. By closely reading structuralist and post-structuralist writings in philosophy, anthropology, literature, history, and linguistics, we will use these texts to deepen our ethnographic inquiries into contemporary topics related to notions of agency, subjectivity, ontology, ideology, politics, capitalism, value, and modernity. We will also explore the diversity and range of material signs, both linguistic and non-linguistic, to better understand the potential of these signs for constituting sociocultural worlds of diverse scales and imaginaries.