Anthropology and Sociology
Year: Show curriculum in:

Amherst College Anthropology and Sociology for 2009-10


10 Exploring Human Diversity: An Introduction to Anthropology and Sociology

(Offered as Anthropology 10 and Sociology 10.) The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to the central concepts and themes in the disciplines of anthropology and sociology. Anthropology and sociology emerged as distinct modes of inquiry in 19th-century Europe in response to several centuries of disorienting change. Monarchies were collapsing, economies were industrializing, modern science was emerging, and democratic aspirations were rising. Alongside this flux, Europe’s imperial reach had revealed a mind-boggling variety of cultures, each ordered and disordered in dramatically different ways. In this context, it is not surprising that two questions became urgent: Why do some societies change while others appear to be unchanging? When a society undergoes change, how does social order get re-established? These classic questions have long since been reframed to confront a fundamental challenge that we live with today: Why do people do what they do, and why do different people do things differently? This course is intended to introduce students to the ways anthropologists and sociologists continue to grapple with these critical questions. While the course will touch upon classic works from the two disciplines, it will largely focus on the ways these questions have given rise to new and often surprising answers. In exploring the ways humans make sense of and produce unique social worlds, the course will highlight points of convergence and divergence in regard to theory, formulation of research problems, and methods within the two disciplines.

Not open to students who have taken Anthropology 11 or Sociology 11. Fall semester. Professors Dizard and C. Dole.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010

12 Social Anthropology

An examination of theory and method in social anthropology as applied in the analysis of specific societies. The course will focus on case studies of societies from different ethnographic areas.

Spring semester. Professor Gewertz.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015

13 Evolution and Culture

This course concentrates on the role of culture in evolutionary perspective, regarding it as the distinctive adaptive mode of humanity. Drawing on the materials of primatology, paleontology, archaeology, the prehistoric record as well as cultural studies, the primary emphasis will be on the relations among biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors in human evolution and human life. The focus is primarily on the role of culture in human evolution, and aspects of culture that make humans unique.

Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Goheen.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2013

21 Indian Civilization

(Offered as Anthropology 21 and Asian 22 [SA].)  A general introduction to Indian civilization. The course will survey South Asia’s most important social, political, and religious traditions and institutions. It will emphasize the historical framework within which Indian civilization has developed its most characteristic cultural and social patterns. This course is designed for students who are new to South Asia, or for those who have some knowledge of South Asia but have not studied it at the college level.

Fall semester. Professor Babb.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

22 Anthropology of Religion

A survey of anthropological and sociological theories concerning religion’s role in human life. The course will examine a range of questions social scientists have asked about religion. What is religion from an anthropological or sociological point of view? Does it have social or cultural functions that account for its near ubiquity? To what extent is the concept of rationality useful or a hindrance in understanding religion? Is rationality itself culturally relative? The course will consider classical and contemporary approaches to questions such as these.

Spring semester. Professor Babb.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2011

23 History of Anthropological Theory

A general survey of writings that have played a leading role in shaping the modern fields of cultural and social anthropology. Beginning with a discussion of the impact of Darwin and the discoveries at Brixham Cave on mid-nineteenth century anthropology, the course surveys the theories of the late-nineteenth-century cultural evolutionists. It then turns to the role played by Franz Boas and his students and others in the advent and later development of cultural anthropology in the U.S. Readings of Durkheim and Mauss will provide the foundation for a discussion of the development of British social anthropology, French structuralism, and Bourdieu’s theory of social practice. The course will conclude with a discussion of recent controversies concerning the work of a key theorist in the anthropological tradition.

Fall semester. Professor Babb.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

24 Archaeological Method, Theory and Practice

This course focuses on the theoretical foundations of archaeological research, the variety of methods available to analyze material culture, the interpretation of results, and ethical considerations of practicing archaeology in the United States and abroad.  Course provides students with a solid foundation for evaluating and contextualizing current methodological and theoretical trends within archaeology.  Case studies illustrate the diversity of archaeological thought, interdisciplinary approaches to studying material culture, and innovative directions in the field of anthropological archaeology.  Discussions of practice will address the roles and responsibilities of archaeologists in heritage management, museum development, and community outreach.

Spring semester.  Five College Professor Klarich.



2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2014

26 African Cultures and Societies

(Offered as Anthropology 26 and Black Studies 20 [A].) This course explores the cultural meaning of indigenous African institutions and societies. Through the use of ethnographies, novels and films, we will investigate the topics of kinship, religion, social organization, colonialism, ethnicity, nationalism and neocolonialism. The principal objective is to give students an understanding of African society that will enable them better to comprehend current issues and problems confronting African peoples and nations.

Limited to 50 students. Spring semester. Professor Goheen.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2014

31 Anthropology and the Middle East

(Offered as Anthropology 31 and Asian 41 [WA].)  In an era where “terrorism” has eclipsed the nuclear fears of the Cold War and become associated with a radicalism that is portrayed as at once militant, anti-Western, and bound to a particular region (the Middle East) and religion (Islam), the task of this seminar--to examine the everyday realities of people living throughout the Middle East--has become all the more critical.  Beginning with an historical eye toward the ways that the “West” has discovered, translated, and written about the “Orient,” this seminar will use anthropological readings, documentary film, and literary accounts to consider a range of perspectives on the region commonly referred to as the Middle East.  Rather than attempting a survey of the entire region, the course will take a thematic approach and explore such topics as:  Islam and secularism, colonialism and postcoloniality, gender and political mobilization, media and globalization, and the politics and ethics of nation building.  As an anthropology course, the class will take up these themes through richly contextualized accounts of life within the region.  While it is recognized that the Middle East is incredibly heterogeneous, particular attention will given to the influence and role of Islam.  By the end of the seminar, students will have gained a broad understanding of some of the most pressing issues faced within the area, while at the same time grappling with advanced theoretical readings.  No previous knowledge of the Middle East is assumed.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor C. Dole.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013

32 Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

This seminar will examine contemporary issues in anthropology. Topics will vary from year to year but might, for instance, include the challenge to anthropology of the post-colonial encounter; the representation of the “other” in museums and magazines; the relationship between culture and practical reason. The universalizing of commodity lust; the linkage of sex, power and disease; the encompassment of the world by capitalism; the writing of money in grants as the prerequisite to the writing of culture in ethnographies.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester.  Professor Gewertz.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

34 Religion and Society in the South Asian World

(Offered as Anthropology 34 and Asian 60 [SA].) Observers have long marveled at the sheer number of separate religious traditions that flourish and interact with each other in South Asia. In this single ethnographic region, the Indian subcontinent, we find Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Jews, and others as well. Given this extraordinary diversity, South Asia provides an unparalleled opportunity to study interactions among religious systems in a broad range of social and political contexts. This course takes advantage of this circumstance by exploring, in South Asian settings, a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of religion. Among the subjects to be considered are religion and social hierarchy, religion and gender, religious responses to rapid social change, modern religious movements, religion and modern media, religious nationalism, and South Asian religions in diaspora. Although the course focuses on the South Asian region, it is designed to emphasize theoretical issues of current interest to anthropologists and others who study religion from the perspective of social science. While some background in South Asian studies would be helpful, it is not a prerequisite for this course.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Babb.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010

35 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Gewertz.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014

38 Healing: Meaning, Performance, and Power

Moving through a variety of therapeutic settings and interventions (from the doctor's office, to the laying on of hands, to national rituals of collective mourning), this seminar will consider what it means to heal and be healed.  Building on anthropological theories of healing and ritual, the course will explore a range of approaches to conceptualizing therapeutic efficacy--the persistent question of how and why different forms of healing work.  These approaches will consider the therapeutic potential adhering within such themes and processes as meaning, performance, narrative, persuasion, embodiment, fantasy, mimesis, and alterity.  The course will also take up idioms of healing as they are employed politically--taking healing both as a politicized process of personal transformation and a collective process working at the level of the body politic.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor C. Dole.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009

39 The Anthropology of Food

Because food is necessary to sustain biological life, its production and provision occupy humans everywhere. Due to this essential importance, food also operates to create and symbolize collective life. This seminar will examine the social and cultural significance of food. Topics to be discussed include: the evolution of human food systems, the social and cultural relationships between food production and human reproduction, the development of women’s association with the domestic sphere, the meaning and experience of eating disorders, and the connection among ethnic cuisines, nationalist movements and social classes.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Gewertz.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

41 Visual Anthropology

This course will explore and evaluate various visual genres, including photography, ethnographic film and museum presentation as modes of anthropological analysis--as media of communication facilitating cross-cultural understanding. Among the topics to be examined are the ethics of observation, the politics of artifact collection and display, the dilemma of representing non-Western “others” through Western media, and the challenge of interpreting indigenously produced visual depictions of “self” and “other.”

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Gewertz.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2013

42 Madness and Politics

This seminar will consider the anthropological, psychological, and political significance of "limit" experience(s).  While such forms of experience--such as psychosis, trauma, possession, and torture--are commonly regarded as radical exceptions, existing in a place “beyond” culture and language, this course examines the ways that they can play a constitutive role in shaping everyday subjective experience and social life.  Of particular interest in this seminar will be the significance of "limit" experience for understanding what it means to be a subject, the relationship between mental disorder and social-political order, the position of injury and suffering in contemporary formulations of truth and freedom, and anthropological approaches to political power conceived in psychological and social terms.  Rather than making a sustained argument, the course will involve open-ended discussions regarding theories of subjectivity as they appear in ethnographic studies of psychiatry, pharmaceuticals, the biosciences, political violence, religious experience, and institutions of confinement and care.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor C. Dole

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

43 Economic Anthropology and Social Theory

This course will look at the relationship between economy and society through a critical examination of Marx with particular emphasis on pre-capitalist economies. The more recent work of French structural Marxists and neo-Marxists, and the substantivist-formalist debate in economic anthropology will also be discussed. The course will develop an anthropological perspective by looking at such “economic facts” as production, exchange systems, land tenure, marriage transactions, big men and chiefs, state formation, peasant economy, and social change in the modern world.

Limited to 25 students. First-year and sophomore students must have consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Goheen.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

44 Global Health

This seminar will explore how anthropologists have attempted to make sense of the global patterning of health and illness. Beyond introducing basic concepts and methodologies for defining, measuring, and expanding global health and global disparities in health status, the course is divided into four thematic areas: (1) poverty and inequality in relation to health status; (2) pharmaceuticals and access to care; (3) responses to “natural” and human-made disasters; (4) collective violence and the politics and ethics of humanitarian intervention. Each theme will be developed through a focused exploration of particular cases, regions, or problems. The conversations to be engaged in this course include, but are not limited to: AIDS and anti-retrovirals in Africa, industrial disaster in India, the medical intersection of military and humanitarian intervention, providing and receiving medical care amidst “failing” states and institutions, and the link between global economic policy and local health status.

Limited to 20 students.  Omitted 2009-10.  Professor C. Dole.

2015-16: Not offered

45 Medical Anthropology

The aim of this course is to introduce the ways that medical anthropologists understand illness, suffering, and healing as taking shape amidst a complex interplay of biological, psychological, social, political-economic, and environmental processes.  The course is designed to engage a broad range of medical anthropology topics, theoretical approaches, and research techniques by examining case studies concerned with such issues as chronic illness and social suffering, ritual and religious forms of healing, illness and inequality, medicalization, the global AIDS crisis, the social life of new medical technologies, and the politics of global health and humanitarian intervention.  A basic premise of the course is that an understanding of illness, health, and the body requires an understanding of the contexts in which they are experienced, contexts contingently shaped by interwoven processes of local, national, and global significance.  Particular emphasis will thus be placed on ethnographic approaches to the lived context in which illness and other forms of suffering are experienced, narrated, and addressed.  Our focus will be comparative, treating illness, suffering, and healing in a range of societies and settings--from Haiti to China, from urban Brazil to rural Nepal, from the townships of South Africa to genetic labs in the United States.

Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Professor C. Dole.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

77, 78 Senior Departmental Honors

Fall semester.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

97, 97H, 98, 98H Special Topics

Independent Reading Courses. A full course.

Fall semester. The Department.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015


12 Self and Society: An Introduction to Sociology

Sociology is built on the premise that human beings are crucially shaped by the associations each person has with others. These associations range from small, intimate groups like the family to vast, impersonal groupings like a metropolis. In this course we will follow the major implications of this way of understanding humans and their behavior. The topics we will explore include: how group expectations shape individual behavior; how variations in the size, structure, and cohesion of groups help account for differences in individual behavior as well as differences in the patterns of interaction between groups; how groups, including societies as a whole, reproduce themselves; and why societies change. As a supplement to readings and lectures, students will be able to use original social survey data to explore first-hand some of the research techniques sociologists commonly use to explore the dynamics of social life.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

15 Foundations of Sociological Theory

Sociology emerged as part of the intellectual response to the French and Industrial Revolutions. In various ways, the classic sociological thinkers sought to make sense of these changes and the kind of society that resulted from them. We shall begin by examining the social and intellectual context in which sociology developed and then turn to a close reading of the works of five important social thinkers: Marx, Tocqueville, Weber, Durkheim, and Freud. We shall attempt to identify the theoretical perspective of each thinker by posing several basic questions: According to each social thinker, what is the general nature of society, the individual, and the relationship between the two? What holds societies together?  What pulls them apart?  How does social change occur? What are the distinguishing features of modern Western society in particular? What distinctive dilemmas do individuals face in modern society? What are the prospects for human freedom and happiness? Although the five thinkers differ strikingly from each other, we shall also determine the extent to which they share a common “sociological consciousness.” Required of sociology majors.

Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Himmelstein.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

16 Social Research

This course introduces students to the range of methods that sociologists use to understand humans as social beings. It explores the strengths and weaknesses of these methods. Students will design and execute an original research project. The course emphasizes the general logic of social inquiry and research design rather than narrowly defined techniques and statistical proofs. Required of sociology majors.

Requisite: Anthropology/Sociology 10. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Himmelstein.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015

21 Sociology of Family

This course assesses sources and implications of changes in family structure, focusing primarily on contemporary family relationships in America.  It explores historical antecedents of current arrangements and delves into cross-cultural examples as well.  Social class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity serve as filters for examining this essential social institution, with the goal of better understanding shifting attitudes toward family and the interactions among family and other social institutions.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Visiting Lecturer Souza.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009

22 Sociology of the Life Course

“Man, woman, birth, death, infinity... ” This course examines the spectrum of the human life course-i-nfancy, childhood, adolescence, middle age, old age--through the prism of sociology. It asks how we have come to subdivide the life course into these stages and addresses the role of social context in their development. Finally, it discusses public policy implications of this categorization.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2009-10. Visiting Lecturer Souza.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Spring 2011

31 Conceptualizing White Identity in the United States

(Offered as Sociology 31 and Black Studies 10 [US].)  The debate over the virtues of multiculturalism and the promotion of diversity have, ironically, led an increasing number of scholars to question the meaning of “whiteness.” What does it mean to be “white”? Who gets to decide who is and who isn’t “white”? Clearly, “white” means more than is captured by complexion alone, but what is there besides complexion? Given the undeniable fact that cultural variations among those regarded as white are as large as the variations between whites and non-whites, it is not clear what exactly constitutes whiteness. To study whiteness is to analyze the collective memory and practices of “white people” and to scrutinize carefully those moments when white identity is used to mobilize passions. This course will attempt to unpack the myths and realities that have created and maintained “white identity.”

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Basler.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2011

32 Thinking Differently about Culture

In this course, we will focus attention first on the dynamics of cultural difference which characterize the civil rights era in the United States and use our sociological assessment of them to frame an analysis of culture leading up to and following from this tumultuous time, paying particular attention to what is now commonly referred to as a “post civil rights era.” Some of the important questions we will ask are: How adequate are conventional sociological ideas of culture—ideas that presume “cohesion” and “commonality,” among other things—when it comes to conceptualizing, documenting, and theorizing cultural difference? What are the consequences of accounting for cultural difference as something to be incorporated into what is, or could be, held in common by people? What is at stake, sociologically speaking, when aspects of cultural difference--previously ignored or marginalized in hegemonic accounts--become the focal point of intellectual inquiry or political practice? How do we distinguish among discourses of cultural difference? How are they subject to cooptation, assimilation, or exploitation?

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013

33 Race and Politics in the United States

This course is an intensive examination of the politics, and the policy consequences, of racial and ethnic identity in the United States. The course focuses on the historical and contemporary experiences of several racial and ethnic groups in American politics. Attention is given to contemporary issues, emphasizing the roles of governmental actors, institutions, and policies. In the first part of the course, we begin by considering the concept of racial identity. We then look at various principles such as equality, freedom, and solidarity, which underlie the ways in which we think about and judge racial politics and race-related policies. The second part of the course focuses on race and politics: public opinion, political image, and political and social movements. In the third part of the course, we move to policy-related case studies. Most policy-related case studies focus on blacks and whites, but this course considers the ways in which the traditional model may be outdated or otherwise inappropriate. Among the issues to be discussed are vote dilution, school desegregation, affirmative action, “new” multiculturalism, immigration, and bilingual education. We close the course with a look to the future of race and ethnicity in American politics. A fundamental premise of this course is that knowledge of race and ethnic dynamics in the United States is necessary to comprehensively analyze American political development and many important issues in contemporary American politics. The course is conducted in a seminar format.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Basler.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2012

34 Social Class

This course will consider various ways that class matters in the United States. Historical accounts will be used in conjunction with sociological theories to discuss the formation of classes, including the formation of discourses and myths of class, in American society. Class will then serve as a lens to examine the origins and characteristics of social stratification and inequality in the U.S. The bulk of the course will focus on more contemporary issues of class formation, class structure, class relations, and class culture, paying particular attention to how social class is actually lived out in American culture. Emphasis will be placed on the role class plays in the formation of identity and the ways class cultures give coherence to daily life. In this regard, the following will figure importantly in the course: the formation of upper class culture and the role it plays in the reproduction of power and privilege; the formation of working class culture and the role it plays in leading people to both accept and challenge class power and privilege; the formation of the professional middle class and the importance that status anxiety carries for those who compose it. Wherever possible, attention will be paid to the intersection of class relations and practices with those of other social characteristics, such as race, gender and ethnicity. The course will use sociological and anthropological studies, literature, autobiographies, and films, among other kinds of accounts, to discuss these issues.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Lembo.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

35 Borderlands and Barrios: Latino/a Representation in Film and Television

This course uses a two-pronged sociological approach to examine Latino/a culture in the United States through the mediums of film and television. We begin with discussion of how to critically analyze films and television relative to race and ethnicity, and a review of the history of representation of Latinos/as in media. We then examine the content of the Latino/a experience as depicted in film and television and the accuracy of that content in describing the diversity and truth of the Latino/a experience in the United States, particularly in regard to race, class, and gender.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Basler.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

38 Race and Races in American Studies

(Offered as Sociology 38 and Black Studies 35 [US].)  This interdisciplinary seminar examines influential scholarship on the “race concept” and racialized relations in American culture and society. The course will focus on selected themes, approaches, methods, debates, and problems in a variety of scholarly genres. Major topics include the cultural construction of race; race as both an instrument of oppression and an idiom of resistance in American politics; the centrality of race in literary, sociological, anthropological, and legal discourse; the racialization of U.S. foreign policy; “race mixing” and “passing” and the vicissitudes of “whiteness” in American political culture; and “race” in the realm of popular cultural representation.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Basler.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

40 The Social Construction of Nature

This course rests on two premises.  The first is that the non-human world--"nature"--exerts a profound influence on the social arrangements of humans.  The second premise is that humans not only modify nature to suit their needs but also construct nature ideologically.  We will explore the ways in which nature has been manipulated, both physically and symbolically, and the consequences these manipulations have had both for nature and for humans.  We will pay particular attention to the shifts over the past century and a half in the ways Americans have regarded the natural world, tracing the emergence of the conservation movement of the late nineteenth century and how it slowly got transformed into the contemporary environmental movement.

Requisite: Anthropology/Sociology 10, Enivironmental Studies 12 or consent of the instructor. Not open to first year students. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester.  Professor Dizard.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012

41 The American Right

Combining ideas from political sociology and the study of social movements, this course examines the changing role of the Right in American society and politics.

Omitted 2009-10. Professor Himmelstein.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007

42 The Commons Rising

The commons has long been regarded as a side-theme of English history and a cautionary fable about the over-exploitation of shared resources ("the tragedy of the commons"). In recent years, however, the commons has been rediscovered as a versatile paradigm of self-governance and resource management. In circumstances as varied as open source software, Wikipedia, ocean fisheries, indigenous cultures, fresh water supplies, and public spaces--and in countries from Brazil and India to Germany and the United States--self-organized communities are developing their own commons as practical alternatives to markets and government.  Some see the commons as a way to challenge the privatization and commodification of shared resources ("enclosures"). Others see it as a practical tool for re-imagining governance and ecological stewardship in the face of market and government failures.  Still others see the commons as a way to heal the psychic and cultural wounds of modernity.

This course will survey the political and economic history of the commons, its strengths and limitations over the centuries, and its burgeoning contemporary manifestations. We will be guided by the writings of Elinor Ostrom, Peter Linebaugh, Yochai Benkler, Lawrence Lessig, Peter Barnes, Lewis Hyde, and David Bollier as well as by a range of films, essays, and Web resources. The course will have direct conversations with policy experts, academics, and activists who are at the forefront of commons work, and confront the ambiguities and perplexities of this still-emerging realm of thought and action.

Not open to first year students.  Limited to 25 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Lecturer Bollier.


2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

43 Drugs and Society

This course examines the use and control of mood-altering drugs in the United States today.  Specifically, we look at two important sets of issues: first, the increasing use of prescription drugs to deal with a growing range of human moods and thoughts; second, the ongoing “war” against drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.   By juxtaposing these two, we will reflect on the contradictions of drug use and drug control in America.  On the one hand, we take a more punitive approach to the control of currently illegal drugs like marijuana than any other western society. On the other hand, we use and encourage the use of prescriptions like antidepressants more than any other western society.  

Limited to 35 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Himmelstein

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2015

44 Sport and Society

A cross-cultural study of sport in its social context. Topics will include the philosophy of play, games, contest, and sport; the evolution of modern sport in industrial society; Marxist and Neo-Marxist interpretations of sport; economic, legal, racial and sexual aspects of sport; national character and sport; social mobility and sport; sport in literature and film. Three meetings per week.

Omitted 2009-10. Professor Guttmann.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008

45 Latino Identity in the United States: Continuity and Complexity

The Latino population currently consists of approximately 24,000,000 people in the United States; by the year 2050 the Census Bureau estimates that the Latino population will make up 22 percent of the total population. This diverse group traces its origin to a variety of countries and its experiences in the United States are quite varied. In this course we will examine the experiences of the various Latino communities in the United States. The course is designed to examine the socioeconomic experiences of the various Latino groups (Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans, among others). Our examination will require that we pay close attention to issues of race, class, and gender, as well as the complexities of pan-ethnic identity, group politics, and immigration.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Basler.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2011

47 Sociology from the Margins

In this course we will examine texts that challenge the conventional wisdom of sociology, thereby enabling us to see foundational concerns of the discipline in new ways. These texts--some by sociologists, some not--will be used to explore such things as changing modes of social power, the cultural unconscious, commodity culture, normality and its transgressions, media technology and the social imaginary, as well as social identity and the self in ways unanticipated by mainstream sociological thought. Historical transitions from Fordism to flexible accumulation, the modern to the postmodern, the colonial to the postcolonial, the national to the transnational, and from the real to the virtual will figure importantly in course discussion.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Lembo.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

Related Courses

PICK-08 Conservation Biology and the Reconstruction of Nature (Course not offered this year.)

Morgan Hall