Anthropology and Sociology
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Amherst College Anthropology and Sociology for 2012-13


110 Exploring Human Diversity: An Introduction to Anthropology and Sociology

(Offered as ANTH 110 and SOCI 110.) 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 ANTH 111 or SOCI 111. Limited to 70 students. Omitted 2012-13. 

2014-15: Not offered

111 The Embodied Self in American Culture and Society

(Offered as AMST 215 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; eating disorders as cultural phenomena; the interminable abortion controversy; the equally interminable conflict over pornography and the limits of free speech; and adaptations to the possibility of serious illness and to the certainty of death.

Limited to 20 students . Fall semester.  Professor Guttmann.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012

112 Sociocultural 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.

Fall semester. Professor Gewertz.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

113 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. Spring semester. Professor Goheen.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2013

215 Anthropology of Education

This course looks at the meanings and purposes of various kinds of educational practices, policies, and discourses in schools, families, and social organizations, and how they affect and are affected by social processes and power relationships, in the U.S. and in several other countries.  We will consider the effects of particular kinds of educational discourses, experiences, policies, and practices on students' academic achievements, preparation for particular kinds of work, and understandings, practices, and experiences of citizenship, nationalism, race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic stratification.

Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Fong.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

218 Anthropology of Transnational Migration

This course looks at how and why people move from one country to another, what they experience as they migrate, how they are changed by what they experience, how they decide when and whether to return to their countries of origin, and how their transnational journeys affect the countries they migrate between.  We will also consider the kinds of policies and practices that might improve the experiences of transnational migrants and the people they interact with during and after their time in other countries.  We will look not only at the experiences of immigrants in the U.S., but also at various other kinds of transnational migrants, such as immigrants in other countries besides the U.S., and U.S. citizens as well as citizens of other countries who leave their own countries to study, work, do business, engage in tourism, and/or seek dating and marriage partners in other countries.

Limited to 30 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Fong.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

220 Collecting the Past: Art and Artifacts of the Ancient Americas

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. Spring semester.  Five College Assistant Professor Klarich.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

222 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.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2012-13.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2011

224 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.

Omitted 2012-13.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

226 African Cultures and Societies

(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 2012-13.  Professor Goheen.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2014

230 Ethnographic Methods

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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

235 Global Markets and Local Cultures

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.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012

236 The Ethnography of Latin America

This course is an overview of the processes of social, economic, and cultural change in Latin America. While focusing on the present, we will discuss the impacts of the colonial encounter and the social, cultural, and economic relations established during the colonial era. We pay particular attention to the construction of racial difference, class formation, agrarian structures, ethnic identity, gender patterns, political conflict, and national and regional economic policy. The course examines the impacts of the processes of nation-building, development, urbanization, migration, transnationalism and political conflict in Latin America with a focus on the emergence of Latin American social movements during the second half of the twentieth century. The course will focus on case studies drawn from Mexico, Central and South America.

Requisite: ANTH 112.  Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Araujo.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

241 Visual Anthropology

(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 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Gewertz.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2016

245 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. Omitted 2012-13. Professor C. Dole.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

251 Anthropology of Natural Wealth

From diamonds and bananas to coca and coal, natural wealth as commodities have shaped the way we think of global connections from early colonial encounters to the present. They are signs of the legacies of colonial exploitation as well as the seemingly infinite reach of global capital. Yet, anthropology of the politics around these commodities--that is, a critical understanding of the places of their production, extraction and exchange, along with the people whose lives are intimately tied to these processes--has also brought to the fore the provocative and often unpredictable ways in which the politics of natural resources has generated new forms of resistances, cultural practices and social worlds. They are pivots around which nations are being imagined, states are being legitimated, and nature itself is being re-defined. This course will examine anthropological literature on the politics and practices around natural wealth. Drawing on examples from varied cultural contexts, such as the petroleum boom in Nigeria, the occult practices of tin miners in Colombia, coffee-drinking in American households, or the coal mining communities in South Africa, among others, this course aims to understand the social and political lives of natural resources and how they help us to conceptually approach colonialism, capitalism and globalization.

Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Chowdhury.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

253 Muslim Lives in South Asia

(Offered as ANTH 253 and ASLC 270 [SA].)  This course is a survey of foundational and contemporary writing on Muslim cultures across South Asia. The approach here is anthropological, in the sense that the course focuses on material that situates Islamic thought in the making of everyday practices, imaginations, and ideologies of a very large and varied group of people. While India hosts the second largest population of Muslims in the world, Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively, are two of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation-states. This course will aim to capture some of the richness of the textual and vernacular traditions that constitute what is known as South Asian Islam and the lived experiences of Muslims. Without relegating Muslims to a minority status and therefore targets of communal violence, or approaching Islam in South Asia only at the level of the syncretic, this course aims to understand the interface of traveling texts and indigenous traditions that is integral to the making of its diverse Muslim cultures. In doing so, the course will by necessity discuss topics of subjectivity, law, gender, community, secularism, and modernity that continue to raise important theoretical questions within the discipline of anthropology.

Some prior knowledge of Islam or Muslim societies may be helpful.  Limited to 25 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Chowdhury.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

315 Inequalities in Contemporary China

(Offered as ANTH 315 and ASLC 315 [C].)  This course examines various factors that produce inequality in mainland China, such as age, generation, gender, ethnicity, education, income, work, differences between rural and urban areas within China, and differences between China and developed countries.  We will look at how Chinese citizens, state leaders, and media producers understand, portray, and produce such inequalities, and at how Chinese individuals and families try to improve their positions in the hierarchies created by such inequalities. Students will work in teams to conduct original research about particular kinds of inequalities in China, drawing on data from the instructor’s research projects. Each team will consist of at least one student experienced in statistical analysis who will analyze English-language survey data, at least one student with Chinese language skills who will translate and analyze Chinese-language interview questions and responses, and several students without Chinese language skills or statistical analysis skills who will analyze the English-language scholarly literature on particular kinds of inequality in China. It is expected that most students in this class will not have Chinese language skills or statistical analysis skills, and these skills are not required for admission to or success in the course.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Fong.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

318 Chinese Childrearing

(Offered as ANTH 318 and ASLC 318 [C].)  This course examines Chinese childrearing, focusing primarily on childrearing in mainland China. We will look at differences as well as similarities between childrearing in Chinese families of different socioeconomic status within China, as well as between childrearing in mainland China and in childrearing in Chinese and non-Chinese families worldwide. We will also look at dominant discourses within and outside of China about the nature of Chinese childrearing and ask about relationships between those discourses and the experiences of Chinese families. Students will work together to conduct original research about childrearing in China, drawing on data from the instructor’s research projects. Students with statistical analysis skills will analyze English-language survey data; students with advanced Chinese language skills will translate and analyze Chinese-language interview questions and responses; and students who have taken or are currently taking at least one course about anthropology, sociology, economics, psychology, or China will analyze the English-language scholarly literature about Chinese childrearing in the field(s) with which they are most familiar. Course assignments will be tailored to the interests, skills, and academic background of each student, so first-years,  sophomores, and students with no Chinese language skills or statistical analysis skills are welcome and just as likely to succeed as juniors, seniors, and students with Chinese language or statistical analysis skills.

Limited to 20 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester.  Professor Fong.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015

323 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.

Spring semester. Professor Gewertz.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

331 Anthropology and the Middle East

(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. Omitted 2012-13. Professor C. Dole.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

332 Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

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 Chowdhury.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

333 Prehistory of Food

This course explores how and why humans across the globe began to domesticate plant and animal resources approximately 10,000 years ago.  The first half of the course presents the types of archaeological data and analytical methods used to study the "agricultural revolution."  The second half examines case studies from the major centers of domestication in order to investigate the biological, economic, and social implications of these processes.  Special emphasis will be placed on exploring the relationship between agriculture and sedentism, food and gender, the politics of feasting, and methods for integrating archaeological and ethnographic approaches to the study of food.

Recommended coursework: ANTH 110, 224 or 339.  Omitted 2012-13.  Five College Professor Klarich.

2014-15: Not offered

334 Religion and Society in the South Asian World

(Offered as ANTH 334 and ASLC 360 [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. Omitted 2012-13. Professor Babb.

2014-15: Not offered

335 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.  Omitted 2012-13.  Professor Gewertz. 

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

339 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. 

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

340 The Anthropology of Development

This course is an in-depth exploration of theories and strategies of international development as they have been applied in the Global South since the second half of the twentieth century. We will discuss the production of global inequality and the construction of parts of the world as underdeveloped through discourses and practices of development. Development strategies will be examined from a cultural and historical perspective. The course will pay significant attention to how the development problem and its solutions are constructed within differing theoretical frameworks such as liberal, Marxist, and poststructuralist frameworks in the field of development studies. We will examine the historical background of development by situating it within the rise and consolidation of capitalism and modernity. The impacts of the application of development models will be explored through ethnographic case studies. We conclude the course with an analysis of various attempts to rethink the development model by academics, activists, and communities in order to develop what might be termed post-development thought or alternative forms of development.

Requesite: ANTH 112. Limited to 25 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Araujo.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014

343 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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

347 South Asia Now

(Offered as ANTH 347 and ASLC 347 [SA].  Anthropology of South Asia, in the last decade or more, has focused primarily on such themes as bureaucracy and corruption in relation to the postcolonial state; the economy, with special attention to development, liberalization and globalization; mass media and pubic culture; technology and global capital; and violence, as both a strategy and outcome of governmental and non-governmental politics. As students of South Asian cultures, how do we understand this trend?  Is there an influence in South Asian scholarship of the changes taking place in the broader field of anthropology, or is there something specific to the region’s postcolonial modernity that demands this intellectual move? What is new about these emergent themes and how could they be read in light of canonical interests of South Asian anthropology? We shall explore these questions by way of reading recent anthropological writing on South Asia while paying special attention to theories of governmentality, identity, violence, mediation, and the state. The course is designed to offer a critical survey of recent ethnographic writing on the politics and aesthetics of South Asian public life. The larger aim is to situate South Asian anthropology within the body of literature known as South Asian Studies as well as against the unfolding history of the discipline of anthropology.

Limited to 25 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Chowdhury.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

490, 490H, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Courses. A full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
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 2015, Spring 2016

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Fall semester.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015


112 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. Fall semester.  Professor Lembo.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

205 Health Inequality and Race Seminar

The fact that people of African descent, many Latino populations and indigenous people are sicker and die younger is well-established. The typical explanations rely on diet and other lifestyle factors like smoking. In the last decade there has even been a renewed emphasis on possible genetic factors that might be implicated in these long-standing health inequalities. This course will consider these explanations against those that focus on the “social determinants.” The central insight to emerge from the field of social epidemiology is that social status is the strongest predictor of health, determining access to the resources (material and psychological) that are protective of health. Social status ultimately reflects political equality/inequality. This will be a recurring theme in the course.  This seminar will explore the following questions:  What is the evidence of racial, ethnic and class health inequalities in the United States?  What explains the rise in medical research that searches for a genetic underpinning to racial health disparities?  Why does health care access not explain the inequalities?  What is the evidence that racism makes people sick?  How and why do politics create the policies that directly and indirectly produce racial, ethnic, and class inequalities in the United States.  Can we identify similar patterns and/or developments outside the U.S.?

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Robinson.


2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

222 Sociology of the Life Course

“Man, woman, birth, death, infinity... ” This course examines the spectrum of the human life course--infancy, 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 2012-13.

2014-15: Not offered

225 Reproducing Social Order: Prisons, Schools, and the Military

This course examines U.S. prisons, schools and the military, as institutions of social reproduction, in historical and comparative perspective. This lens allows for exploration of broad questions regarding the role of the state in society and persistent contradictions of democracy and opportunity vs. coercion and constraint. Specific questions on which the course centers are: How do social inequalities condition the relationship between individuals, institutions, the market and the state? How does privatization affect the mission, activity and future of these institutions? What role do prisons, schools and the military play in reproducing social order on the national and international stage? Readings will consist of sociological perspectives on such questions as well as historical accounts and political texts documenting contests over these institutions and their functions.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Holleman.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014

226 Footprints on the Earth: The Environmental Consequences of Modernity

As a basis for understanding current global ecological crises, this course marries natural and social history as well as ecological and social science of the human society/environment nexus. We will study the anthropogenic drivers of environmental change in historical perspective. The new and greater scale of environmental degradation made possible by industrialization and the globalizing tendencies of the modern economic system will receive special attention as these continue to be central factors promoting ecological change. Course readings include classical social theory as well as current perspectives on the relationship between modern human society and the broader environment of which we are a part.

Limited to 25 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Holleman.


2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013

227 Urban Sociology

This course considers the sociological dimensions of urban life, treating the city as both a social formation with its own distinctive set of logics, institutions, and practices, as well as a spatial metaphor for the problems and conflicts of modern society more generally. The main areas of inquiry are (a) urbanization and the place of the city in the modernization process; (b) the sidewalk as a locus of racial and class relations, interactions, tensions, and cultural practices; (c) post-WWII transformations of urban space, with a focus on the processes of urban renewal, suburbanization, and “gentrification”; (d) the sources and structures of urban poverty, and their interpretation (and misinterpretation) in the ethnographic accounts of sociologists.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Five College Professor Fantasia.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013

230 Economy, Society and Change in East Asia

(Offered as SOCI 230 and ASLC 230.)  East Asia has been booming, economically—first Japan, then Korea and Taiwan, and now China. In this course, we will study both what made the economic boom in these countries possible and what social issues have arisen in each country because of the particular social system that arose through its process of economic development. In particular, we will consider patterns of social inequality. In the case of Japan and Korea, we will focus on understanding important inequality patterns that arose during the economic development in the 1970s and 1980s and their enduring effect on current society, such as youth unemployment and gender inequality. As for China, we will study how the rapid economic development generated social inequalities (such as glaring income inequality and urban-rural inequality) different from those observed in Japan and Korea. Through the readings and class discussions, students will learn about the lives of people who live in these East Asian societies: How are the societies organized? What are the critical social issues in these countries? How are these societies both similar and different?

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Mun.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

234 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. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Spring 2016

237 Gender and Work

(Offered as SOCI 237 and WAGS 237.)  How has the rise of working women complicated modern workplaces and the idea of work? One challenge is how to value women’s work fairly. One index of this challenge is that in workplaces across the world, women earn significantly less than men and are underrepresented in high status positions. What explains such gender gaps in the workplace? Taking an empirical, social-science perspective, this course will discuss three main aspects of gender and work. First, we will cover major theories of gender inequality, such as psychological stereotyping, social exclusion, structural barriers, and gendered socialization. Second, in learning about the sociological mechanisms of inequality in the workplace, we will expand our discussion to women’s work in the family and examine how the conflicts individuals face when trying to have both career and family influence women’s lives. Finally, we will discuss the mixed results of public policies proposed to reduce gender inequality and work-family incompatibilities and the possible reasons for those mixed results.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Mun.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

243 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.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2016

245 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. Omitted 2012-13.

2014-15: Not offered

315 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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

316 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: ANTH/SOCI 110. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Himmelstein.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

324 Financial Crises and the Future of Democracy

Austerity measures promoted as a response to the deep global economic recession beginning in 2007 have resulted in protests around the globe. However, these are only the most recent series of measures that fall under the aegis of neoliberal reform. With much of the world’s population under 30 years old, neoliberalism has been a constant fact of life for many. This course looks at the historic rise and consequences of the neoliberal economic model as well as alternatives implemented by breakaway governments in the global South. We will study how the past 40 years of financialization, related debt crises, economic shock therapy and growing inequality fit into broader economic history and help explain current developments. We also will explore the challenge to neoliberalism posed by movements for greater economic democracy and equality from Rome and Cairo to Quito and New York.

Requisite: SOCI 112. Limited to 20 students.  Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall semester. Professor Holleman.


2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013

330 U.S. Latino Studies Seminar in History and Cultural Studies

In this course, we will read, discuss and evaluate recent texts in the field of U.S. Latino Studies.  Themes and issues to be covered during the semester include:  Chicano and Puerto Rican social movements, feminist theory, colonialism and decolonial efforts, sports history(ies), artistic and creative expressions, labor organizing, transnationalism, and oral history accounts, among others. Each student will be responsible for (co)leading class discussion during the semester, writing several book reviews, and completing either a 25-30 final research paper or a comprehensive annotated bibliography on a sub-topic within the field of U.S. Latino Studies.  

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Valentin-Escobar.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

331 Conceptualizing White Identity in the United States

(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 20 students. Omitted 2012-2013.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2011

332 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. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013

333 Race and Politics in the United States

(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 20 students. Fall semester.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2012

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

(Offered as SOCI 335 and FAMS 374.)  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 20 students. Omitted 2012-2013.

2014-15: Not offered

338 Race and Races in American Studies

(Offered as SOCI 338 and BLST 136 [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. Omitted 2012-13.

2014-15: Not offered

340 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: ANTH/SOCI 110, ENST 112 or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2012-13.  Professor Dizard.

2014-15: Not offered

341 Making Peace with the Planet: Environmental Movements and Ideas

In the last 20 years, climate change was acknowledged by every major scientific body in the world and, along with other environmental issues, put on the policy agenda of most national governments. Debates today are less over whether anthropogenic ecological change is happening and more over what should be done about it. In this course we explore the diversity of global movements and proposed environmental solutions that reflect the wide range of perspectives and interests behind these debates. Social inequalities both within and between countries condition what is at stake in negotiations addressing ecological problems for communities and people occupying different social locations. Therefore, issues of environmental justice are highlighted as we study the achievements of environmental movements internationally as well as enduring challenges and controversies.

Requisite: SOCI 112 and ENST 120. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Holleman.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014

347 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. Fall semester. Professor Lembo.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012

Morgan Hall