ANTH-GA 1010: Social Theory & Practice I
Professor Rayna Rapp
Introduces the principal theoretical issues in contemporary social anthropology, relating recent theoretical developments and ethnographic problems to their origins in classical sociological thought. Problems in the anthropology of knowledge are particularly emphasized as those most challenging to social anthropology and to related disciplines. Issues of discursive and institutional power relations are explored through contemporary critiques of these primary texts.
ANTH-GA 1211: Stone Age Prehistory of Eurasia
Professor Radu Iovita
This seminar will provide an in-depth look at the Stone Age prehistory of Eurasia and Oceania to the end of the last Ice Age (roughly 13 thousand years ago). Graduate students and advanced undergraduates will progress chronologically, beginning with the first hominins to come out of Africa, moving on to the world and lifeways of Homo erectus and the Neanderthals and Denisovans, followed by the second major dispersal out of Africa by the first modern humans, and ending with the Last Glacial Maximum and the warming period leading up to the Holocene. Students will be reading critically from primary sources and writing and presenting about the preserved material culture remains of different periods and their environmental and biological contexts.
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 1243: The Anthropology of Law
Professors Jane Anderson and Sally Merry
Law is basic to social life but highly variable in different cultural and historical contexts. This course offers theoretical and methodological tools in legal anthropology for understanding the cultural dimensions of law and the multiple ways law acts and influences a diverse range of social and cultural relationships. With specific attention to law as a form of discipline, power and governmentality, we will also explore legal pluralism, the colonial lives of property law and the legal dimensions of settler colonialism, transnational law and its localization, and the implications of quantitative measurements and standards for global governance and international law. Drawing upon ethnographic studies of everyday legal phenomenon, we will discuss the relationship between theory and method and how an analysis of law can help make visible intricate relationships of power central to the operation of daily life.
ANTH-GA 1505: History and Philosophy of Biological Anthropology
Professor Scott Williams
This course provides an introduction to the history of biological anthropology from its origins to today. It begins with the foundation of anthropology as a field before focusing in on the emergence of physical/biological anthropology in the 19th century and subsequent incorporation of evolutionary theory and genetics. This includes the history of the study of human variation, comparative morphology, skeletal biology, primate evolution, paleoanthropology, molecular anthropology and the development of field primatology. The shifting intellectual paradigms of the discipline will be discussed, including how biological anthropology integrated ideas and techniques from geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and zoology, to become a multidisciplinary field of diverse intellectual and methodological approaches. Students will come away from the course with a deep understanding of the history of biological anthropology.
ANTH-GA 1509: Molecular Anthropology
Professor Andrew Burrell
Molecular anthropologists use biochemical technologies to address anthropological topics such as the phylogenetic relationships among humans and African apes, models of modern human origins, and the identity of archaic humans like the Denisovans. This course intends to provide students with both a background in elementary genetics and also a review of some of the major research in molecular anthropology and primatology. The first section will begin with a brief overview of genetics, inheritance, population genetics, and major methodological advances of genomics. Subsequently, we will discuss major findings in human and primate genetics, including work on phylogeny, population genetics, molecular adaptation, and species’ history in detail. The main goal is to provide students with a background sufficient for i) an understanding of the field of molecular anthropology, ii) teaching it and related topics to undergraduates, and iii) future reading and research in genetics.
ANTH-GA 1636: History of Anthropology
Professor Fred Myers
The history of anthropology is rooted in philosophical questions concerning the relationship between human beings and the formation of societal arrangements. At the same time, the discipline of anthropology is itself an historical and sociocultural product. In this sense, historicizing the discipline is – or should be – similar to treating anthropology itself anthropologically, as produced historically and within a cultural framework itself. This course surveys these issues as they relate to the development of method and theory within the context of the discipline’s institutional and cultural locations. The broad frame concerns anthropology as itself an anthropological (or historical) problem, especially its concern with the problem of similarity and difference in human populations, its involvements in the management of difference, and the politics of representation, but also the different institutional loci of practice. Within this frame, we will concern ourselves with the particularities of different kinds of explanatory paradigms and their deployments. The class will consider both the formal qualities and rigor of different paradigms -- that is, their anthropological potential, as well as their embeddedness in histories. Focuses on French, British, and American anthropology and how they contributed to the development of the modern discipline.
Prerequisites: Anthropology background or permission of instructor.
ANTH-GA 2700: Ethnographic Methods
Professor Bambi Schieffelin
Examines theories and methods of ethnographic research, paying particular attention to the links between research questions and data collection techniques. In addition to readings, assignments include practice fieldwork exercises.
ANTH-GA 3214: Medical Anthropology
Professor Helena Hansen
The single largest economic sector in the world, with unparalleled cultural authority to compel populations to participate, medicine has life altering effects on human bodies and subjectivities across the globe. Ethnographers have generated far ranging critical analysis of how these effects unfold, what drives them and what is societally at stake. In order to illustrate the scope of ethnographers’ insights into medicine(s) as cultural systems, this seminar employs exemplars of these insights, from the meanings of medicine to the role of medicine in colonial and missionary projects, from the cultural construction of race and gender to the nature of political economy and of the body itself.