(Offered as AMST 111 and ANTH 111) "The Embodied Self" in American Culture and Society is an interdisciplinary, historically organized study of American perceptions of and attitudes towards the human body in a variety of media, ranging from medical and legal documents to poetry and novels, the visual arts , film, and dance. Among the topics to be discussed are: the physical performance of gender; the social construction of the ideal male and female body; health reform movements; athletic achievement as an instrumentalization of the body; commercialization of physical beauty in the fitness and fashion industries; anorexia, bulimia, and obesity as cultural phenomena; the interminable abortion controversy; the equally interminable conflict over pornography and the limits of free speech; adaptations to possibility of serious illness or injury and to the certainty of death.
Limited to 40 students (20 per session). Fall semester. Professors Couvares and Guttmann.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
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.
Fall semester. Professor Gewertz.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
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. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Goheen.2016-17: Not offered
Early European explorers, modern travelers, collectors, curators, and archaeologists have contributed to the development of ancient Latin American collections in museums across the globe. This course traces the history of these collecting practices and uses recent case studies to demonstrate how museums negotiate—successfully and unsuccessfully—the competing interests of scholars, donors, local communities, and international law. Students will learn how archaeologists study a variety of artifact types within museum collections and will have the opportunity to conduct independent research projects using pre-Columbian pottery and textile collections from the Mead Museum at Amherst College.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2011-2012. Five College Professor Klarich.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
(Offered as ANTH 221 and ASLC 222 [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.2016-17: Not offered
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.
Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Babb.2016-17: Not offered
This course will explore imaginative play by people around the world and consider its social and cultural uses. In material ranging from Balinese cockfights to Charlie Chaplin films, we will investigate the relevance of joking, parody, and other acts of creative improvisation to people's lives and world views. Students will analyze a form of play of their own choosing and assess selected theories in sociocultural anthropology (resistance, structural functionalism, cultural relativism) as well as analytical techniques in linguistic anthropology and discourse analysis. Far from being inconsequential, acts of fun will be revealed as patterned interactions that index and refract cultural values.
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Five College Visiting Lecturer Menair.2016-17: Not offered
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.
Omitted 2011-12. Five College Professor Klarich.2016-17: Not offered
(Offered as ANTH 226 and BLST 216 [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. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Goheen.2016-17: Not offered
This course will explore ethnographic field methods and techniques as well as the epistemological, political and ethical debates about them. In order to explore various approaches to writing an ethnographic text, students will read excerpts from classic ethnographies and full-length contemporary ethnographies; discuss content, method, and style of each piece; and examine the connections between theory and method. Students will gain an understanding of differing approaches to fieldwork and analysis and discuss the broader ethical and theoretical implications of each approach. Issues to be discussed will include: the politics of representation; power, ethics, and fieldwork; feminist methodology; “insider” critiques of anthropological knowledge; and Participatory Action Research (PAR) approaches, among other topics. Students will gain first-hand ethnographic experience and apply what they learn as they engage in ethnographic fieldwork throughout the course and produce a written ethnographic project.
Requisite: ANTH 112. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Araujo.2016-17: Not offered
This course is an introduction to anthropological approaches to the study of economic globalization. We will discuss the socioeconomic transformation of cultures around the globe, with special attention to the interconnections between market-based economic change and the processes of colonialism and its legacies; the construction of a global economy; nationalism and the formation of nation-states; conceptions and consequences of the rise of “development”; the existence of local economic forms; the globalization of popular culture and consumerism; migration; commodity production; new social movements and the impact of global financial institutions and non-governmental organizations. The focus will be on how residents of the Global South and postcolonial societies respond to the impact of global institutions and market forms. The course is divided into three thematic sections which consist of: 1) The Age of Empire (1850-1945): Colonialism and the Construction of a Global Economy; 2) The Age of Development and State-Building (1945-1979); and 3) The Age of Deregulation and the New Globalisms (1979-present).
Requisite: ANTH 112. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Araujo.2016-17: Not offered
(Offered as ANTH 241 and FAMS 378.) 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.”
Requisite ANTH 110. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2011-12.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
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.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
The world as we know it today has been shaped by European colonial and imperial policies of the post-15th century. In most regions we are limited in our understanding of colonial encounters by the availability and biases inherent in document-based research. Archaeology provides us with a tool to examine colonialism from multiple viewpoints and allows us to study culture change from a material and spatial perspective. In this course we will examine the archaeology of colonial encounters. We will compare ethnohistoric and archaeological perspectives on the colonial past and examine how our narratives have meaning in the present-day world.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Oland.2016-17: Not offered
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.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Gewertz.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
(Offered as ANTH 331 and ASLC 341 [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.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
This seminar will examine contemporary issues in anthropology. Topics will vary from year to year but might, for instance, include anthropological and ethnographic engagements with postcolonialism, the politics of development, neoliberalism and “anti-globalization” activism, militarism, poverty and the politics of survival, institutions of confinement and care, as well as the writing of grants as a prerequisite for the writing of culture in ethnographies.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor C. Dole.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
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. Spring semester. Professor Gewertz.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
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.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
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. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Goheen.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Independent Reading Courses. A full course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Spring semester.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
This course introduces students to ethnographic approaches to the study of law, science, and medicine. Through the critical reading and analysis of ethnographic texts, students will learn about the substantive areas of political and legal anthropology, science studies, and critical medical anthropology. Students will also build a methodological toolkit for investigating complex social problems in the areas of law, science, and medicine. Specific topics of investigation include human rights and humanitarian interventions; organ transplantation and the exchange of biological materials; global pharmaceuticals; and multispecies ethnography. The course will culminate in final mini-ethnographic research projects designed by students.
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Hamilton.
2016-17: Not offered
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. Both semesters. Professor Lembo.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
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. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
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.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
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.2016-17: Not offered
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.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
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: ANTH/SOCI 110. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Himmelstein.2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
(Offered as SOCI 331 and BLST 226 [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.2016-17: Not offered
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. Not open to first year students. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.2016-17: Not offered
(Offered as SOCI 333 and BLST 246 [US]. 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 2011-12. Professor Basler.2016-17: Not offered
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: ANTH/SOCI 110, ENST 112 or consent of the instructor. Not open to first year students. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Dizard.2016-17: Not offered
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. Fall semester. Professor Lembo.2016-17: Not offered
Independent Reading Courses. A full course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Fall semester.2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
All human beings must occupy space and place; this is a basic truth of physical existence. Despite this shared need, communities vary immensely at the local, national, and global levels. Studying the ways in which human beings create and share space can help us see how different components of society impact one another, including social institutions (like the family, religion, and the criminal justice system to name a few of the largest), individual behavior, and cultural beliefs. Furthermore, urbanization is such an integral part of modern life that many of us have spent little time considering how such spaces emerged and how these places have changed over time. Urban sociology is a starting point for considering these relationships. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss the emergence of urban sociology as a field of study, the methods that researchers use to examine urban life, the relationships between the city, the suburb and the country, as well as race and residential segregation.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Curtis.2016-17: Not offered