Fall 2001 Course Descriptions
This course and ANTH 70200 in Spring, 2002 introduce students to current issues and controversies in cultural anthropology. Both courses are part of the preparation for the first exam in the Ph.D. program.
701 does not attempt to be canonical, in the sense of providing the background, history, and theory of allegedly "settled" issues in cultural anthropology. Its object is to encourage engagement with as well as adaptation to the ongoing life of the field.
for 701 will be based upon two short papers (no more than 8 pages) and
an in-class final examination. Forty percent of fall term's grade derives
from the paper assignments; the balance of the grade will be based on
student performance in the final examination. The papers and exam will
be a structured as learning devices to help students develop the ability
to respond critically to questions based upon the current practices and
controversies of the field.
The aim of this course is to give historical depth to the various understandings of the central theoretical issues which have preoccupied Anthropology since its founding, especially the theme of human unity in diversity. This course will examine the origins of anthropology in Europe and America, with emphasis on how the historical context of the discipline influences the theoretical constructs which are developed. The course will begin with a discussion of the origins of Anthropology in the early European 18th century revolutionary Enlightenment tradition-Rousseau, Kant, Hegel. We will go on to discuss the development of evolutionism and diffusionism in England and Germany during the Imperial 19th century and the emergence of the theories of cultural anthropology of Boas and his group in the United States in the early 20th century. The theories of social anthropology-structural functionalism in Britain and France--Malinowski, Radcliffe-Brown, Durkheim and Mauss which emerged at the same time--will be examined. Finally, we will discuss marxism and the theories of French structuralism and American symbolic and interpretive anthropology-the works of Eric Wolf, Claude Levi-Strauss, David Schneider and Clifford Geertz-which flourished in the 1960s and 1970s at the height of the Cold War. The course concludes by glancing forward-towards the theories of post-structuralism and postmodernism which have emerged against this backdrop in the 1980s and 1990s.
papers will be required in total: two will be presented in term and the
final will take the form of a sit-down exam at the end of the course.
Ethnographic Field Methods
This course introduces students planning field research to the methods of ethnographic inquiry and argument that have shaped anthropology (and to a lesser degree other social sciences) over the last century. The course format is, mainly, a survey of ethnographic techniques: including participant observation, interview/life-history, network analysis, textual interpretation, language-based ethnographic research, reflexivity and others. But the course begins with (Part 1) and is centered around a critical inquiry into the nature of ethnographic argument and empirically-based social research (as it has been developed in the social sciences more broadly). Several weeks of the course are devoted to questions of epistemology and the critique of empiricism that caught American social sciences by surprise in the last two decades. Theorists covered in this section range from Boas and Durkheim to Sontag and Rorty. The ethnographic reading covered in Part 2 of the course is mainly contemporary and focuses on how current ethnography has responded to the criticisms raised in Part 1. Ethnography covered here includes work by Latour, Crapanzano, Witherspoon, Levy, Kulick, Taussig, and many others. As in Part 1, the amount of reading assigned is moderate and aimed at provoking discussion relevant to the students' research plans. In all, roughly 10 weeks are devoted to the survey of ethnographic techniques.
Part 3 of the course
is a somewhat abbreviated introduction to ethnographic research design.
This sections asks students to synthesize the readings of the course as
they pertain to the particular project they anticipate for their doctoral
field research. In this way, the topics covered in this section preview
work that will be undertaken more intensively with the individual student's
faculty advisor, and developed more thoroughly in the proposal writing
phase of their graduate study. During the last three weeks of the semester
students will present a methods proposal in class, a formal version of
which will be submitted as the final paper for the course. In addition
to the methods proposal, over the course of the semester students will
write two brief (5 page) reviews of ethnographies not covered in the course
syllabus. These reviews will focus on the epistemological issues raised
by the particular ethnography. Students are encouraged to choose ethnographies
relevant to their future research interests.
This seminar closely examines the foundations of modern social theory. It is hoped that analysis of the works of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim will create not only specific understandings of their contributions to the understanding of the modern world, but will provide a sketch of the terrain upon which contemporary social thought is constructed.
The books for the course are available at Labyrinth Books, 536 W. 112th Street. Xerox readings are available for copying and are stored in the Brockway Room.
The keys to this seminar
are reading and analysis of the texts. Thus, no research paper is required.
Instead, three short papers (10 pages in length) on questions provided
by the instructor are required.
Close reading in
historical context of selected feminist texts which have interrupted the
monological discourse of their time, from the early modern querelle des
femmes, to the rights discourse of the bourgeois revolutions, the socialist
challenge to turn-of-the-century imperialism, literature and society between
the wars, postwar autobiography and identity, and the liberation narratives
of the Sixties new left. At every point, we will triangulate the discussion,
so as to make visible not one Eurocentric tradition, but the connections
between feminist texts from Europe, America, and Africa and India. Thus
Mary Wollstonecraft is linked to Harriet Jacobs and women's oral texts
from Africa and India, or Fatima Mernissi to Simone de Beauvoir and Audre
Lorde. A series of parallel readings will provide historical context and
introduce other, contemporary theoretical perspectives, so that taking
possession of these classic historical texts goes along with an inquiry
into some basic questions posed by feminism across periods and cultures.
This course examines a number of perspectives on violence in anthropology, the motivations of its perpetrators, its multiple social effects on victims, and the problems of writing about it. While being intimately bound to struggles over material resources and to intra-psychic processes, the specific shapes of violence, its causes and contingencies, are rarely reducible to class struggle or individual psychology. Locally meaningful categories (forms of gender, race, or ethnicity) often determine who is terrorized, when, where and how. These cultural contexts of violence, studied by anthropologists, compliment (and sometimes disrupt) the political scientists' foci on the actions of big men and the "war room", the economists' attention to the demands of industry and capital, and the psychologists' investigations of individual or pan-human psyches. Like the causes, the impacts and effects of violence are multiple. Violence can destroy environmental and community infrastructures, kill or maim people, and produce long lasting effects through fear. On the one hand, such fear can destroy communities and the orderliness of daily life; on the other hand, it can create solidarity and communities of resistance. Finally, recognizing that violence works in meaningful ways, the writing of anthropologists can contribute or inhibit the ongoing effects of violence.
Participants in this
seminar are expected to read one assigned book each week. Additional journal
articles and book chapters are provided in a course-pack for each week's
topic. They are also on reserve in the library. Students are not required
to do all additional readings, but their inclusion in discussion and written
assignments is encouraged.
The study of health and illness has recently emerged as a focus of anthropological interest. The field now deals with a broad spectrum of issues and has produced a huge body of literature and a number of new journals. This course is designed to illustrate the way in which medical anthropology is an inseparable constituent of cultural anthropology, providing a forum for many of the most urgent debates in anthropology and the humanities. Selected topics will include: Contemporary Epidemics, Colonial Medicine, Poverty and Health, Bio-Ethics, Traumatic Memory, HIV/AIDS, Aging, The New Medical Technologies, and Social Suffering. The readings are designed to give special attention to social theory, fieldwork methods, and various issues of politics and practice.
include participating in weekly class discussions of lectures and reading
material, and a research paper based on available literature.
The course examines
major theoretical issues and debates in Latin American studies, in particular
those relating to processes of state formation and nation building. A
central aim of the course is to trace the geneaology of these debates
in order to examine how scholars have approached the study of power and
culture in Latin America. Selected topics include: the challenges and
legacies of colonialism and dependency; agrarian and urban transformations;
the historical construction of class, ethnic, and gender relations; national
and subaltern identities; neoliberalism and multiculturalism; the state
and social movements. Course requirements are: one-page commentaries on
each week's readings for distribution to other students and for discussion
in class, and a term paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the
This seminar focuses on the social anthropology and political economy of Southern Europe. The geographical domain of the course includes Turkey, Greece, and the Southern Balkans, as well as Mediterranean Western Europe. A review of the economic development and social history of the region since World War II will be followed by analysis of topics such as the state, nationalism, social stratification, sexuality, welfare, immigration, and the impacts of globalization.
Students in consultation
with the instructor will design a written work product that fits their
needs, whether it be a standard research paper, a research proposal, or
a series of papers based upon particular arguments that arise over the
course of the readings.
This is intended
as an introductory course for non-archaeological anthropology students.
It attempts to give an overview of methods & major issues in modern archaeology
combined with a highly selective survey of major trends in world prehistory.
More coursework will be needed for those intending to do archaeology professionally,
but this course is designed to provide some tools and ideas for teaching
four -field courses for non-specialists. The course also explores methods
for teaching archaeology effectively to undergraduates and provides resources
and ideas for beginning instructors.
of major topics in European archaeology, intended as a basic introduction
and survey. Major emphasis upon the interaction of economic systems, cultural
landscape evolution, changing technology, and social change from Mesolithic
through Medieval periods. Special topics include the interaction of early
farmers and late Mesolithic hunters, the development of social ranking,
metallurgy, and megaliths in late Neolithic/early Bronze Age, the divergence
and interaction of Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Continental zones in the
Iron Age, impact of Rome, Post-Roman decentralization, Viking expansion,
and trends in modern Medieval archaeology. While sites and local sequences
are used as case examples, the course retains a broad focus on wide trends
affecting regional development.
In this course we
will look at the long history of the production and use of geographical
and anthropological knowledges since the Enlightenment (beginning particularly
with Kant's Anthropologie and Physiche Geographie). We would pay particular
attention to the intertwining of the two traditions and to the political-economic
circumstances surrounding their production and use. While we would seek
a critical understanding, we would also want to emphasize the contradictory
qualities of much of the knowledge produced in relation to ideas about
progress, emancipation and political liberation. Given the contested nature
of this knowledge, we would want to use this historical perspective to
try and construct a set of ideas as to the "proper" application of "appropriate"
anthropological and geographical knowledges in the contemporary situation.
This course will explore current approaches to the analysis of prehistoric stone tools. All aspects of lithic analysis will be covered, including raw materials, tool function, and technology of manufacture. Laboratory methods will be emphasized, together with applications of lithic analysis in the study of prehistoric economic and social organization. Several case studies will be investigated, showing how lithic analysis can be applied to the study of early hominid behavior and prehistoric societies.
There will be three
take-home exercises during the semester, each of which will involve reading
and discussing several brief articles (the second exercise also involves
using actual stone tools, which will be provided). There will also be
an in-class final exam during the regularly scheduled examination period.
The exercises and the exam will each count as 25% of the final grade.
Students who have access to a collection of lithic artifacts may choose
the option of submitting a written analysis of that collection, in place
of the final exam.
This departmental publication supplements the official Bulletin of The Graduate School as well as the current Graduate Center Student Handbook and "Announcement of Courses."
Copyright 2012 PhD Program in Anthropology