ANTH-GA 1010: Theory and Practice of Social Anthropology I
Professor Jane Anderson
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.
ANTH-GA 1215: Culture and Media I
Professor Faye Ginburg
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 and Cheryl Furjanic
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 1226: Digital Culture
As you read this course description there are approximately three billion people across the globe engaging in a range of practices, activities, and encounters in online fora. In this graduate level seminar, we will read selected ethnographic and theoretical texts and reflect on our own quotidian ‘digital’ practices, to critically engage with the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) across a range of geographic and social locations. A key part of the work in our time together will be to contextualize platform based communicative and creative practices and the worlds they create by carefully scrutinizing the materialities, infrastructures, and labor arrangements that undergird and maintain them, as well as think through how these technologies are being utilized in ongoing projects of governance and extraction. Our other equally important goal will be to grapple with how ethnography – a method of knowing premised on ‘being there’ – has been recalibrated and reimagined to research digital culture(s), a term used to broadly describe the various self and worldmaking practices and encounters that ICTs enable and engender.
ANTH-GA 1240: Dental Anthropology
Professor Shara Bailey
The goal of this class is to teach students the basics of dental anthropology and how to apply it to a variety of research areas including population variation, evolution, bioarchaeology and forensics. Topics covered include: dental anatomy, evolution, growth and development, dental genetics, pathology, variation in nonhuman primates, recent and fossil hominins, age estimation, forensic applications, and cultural modifications. There is a separate lab component to the class. In the labs students learn how to identify human and non-human teeth, how to distinguish deciduous and permanent teeth, how to age individuals based on dental wear and eruption, how to score and interpret dental morphological traits and how to take dental measurements. Grades are based on mid-term and final exams, lab exercises/quizzes and a term paper.
ANTH-GA 1509: Molecular Anthropology
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 1520: Interpreting the Human Skeleton
Professor Alejandra Ortiz
Provides an intensive introduction to the methods and techniques used to reconstruct soft tissue anatomy and behavior from the human skeleton. Focuses on techniques and applications to all areas of skeletal biology, including bioarchaeology, paleoanthropology, forensics, and anthropology. Addresses bone biology, developmental processes, and soft tissue anatomy. Students learn (1) fundamentals of aging, sexing, and individuating human skeletal remains; (2) how to estimate stature, weight, and, to the extent possible, geographic ancestry; and (3) how to recognize and evaluate pre- and postmortem modification, including evidence of disease and activity.
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.
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 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.
ANTH-GA 2525: Primate Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation
This course serves as a broad introduction to the ecology, behavior, and conservation of nonhuman primates.
ANTH-GA 2670: Anthropology of Science and Technology
Professor Amy Zhang
In this course, we'll discuss debates and topics in science and technology studies to examine how nature and machine anchor our understanding of human and animal, indigenous and developed, man and woman. What are the implicit and explicit ways that natural systems and ecology have become templates for conceptualizing production? What systems or metaphors are borrowed from the natural world to shape technologies and interventions to tame, transform, manage, or improve nature? Finally, how do the intersections of nature/culture and machine/biology produce hybrids, cyborgs, and new relations between humans, animals and bodies in the contemporary world? Topics include the production of scientific knowledge, the role of bodies and senses, labor and scientific management, systems and networks and the production of technologies and infrastructure.
ANTH-GA 3391: Topical Seminar - Research Design in Archaeology
Professor Justin Pargeter