Anthropology and Sociology

Fall 2007/Spring 2008 Course Catalog

The information below is taken from the printed catalog the college produces each year. For more up to date information, including links to course websites, faculty homepages, reserve readings, and more, use the 'courses' or semester specific link to your left.

Anthropology

10. Exploring Human Diversity: An Introduction to Anthropology and Sociology. (Also 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. First semester. Professors Dizard and Gewertz.

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.

Second semester. Professor Babb.

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. First semester. Professor Goheen.

21. Indian Civilization. (Also Asian 22.) 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.

First semester. Professor Babb.

22. Anthropology of Religion. A survey of anthropological and sociological theories pertaining to 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 approaches to questions such as these, but will also give ample attention to contemporary scholarship.

First semester. Professor Babb.

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.

Second semester. Professor Gewertz.

26. African Cultures and Societies. (Also Black Studies 20.) 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. Second semester. Professor Goheen.

31. Anthropology of the Middle East. This course will use anthropological readings, films, and novels to study the contemporary Middle East. Beginning with an historical eye towards the ways in which the West has discovered, translated and written about the Orient, we will survey a broad range of topics that offer a unique perspective on the people, languages, and cultures of the region. General themes to be explored are the Middle East as a region; the history of its analysis; colonialism, nationalism, and state formation; Islam and modernity; religious sensibilities and Islamist politics; gender and sexuality; transforming social structures; cultural politics and the politics of culture; colonialism; and science, technology, and politics. We will take up these themes through richly contextualized accounts of life within the region. While it is recognized that the Middle East is heterogeneous, particular attention will be given to the influence and role of Islam in the region. By the end of the course, students will have gained a broad understanding of the Middle East and some of the pressing issues faced by people of the region, while at the same time grappling with advanced theoretical readings. No previous knowledge of the Middle East is assumed.

Omitted 2007-08. Professor Dole.

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. Second semester. Professor Gewertz.

34. Religion and Society in the South Asian World. (Also Asian 60.) 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 between 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.

Second semester. Professor Babb.

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 25 students. First semester. Professor Raybeck.

36. Psychological Anthropology. This course reviews some of the more notable debates in the field of psychological anthropology. To do so, it utilizes a multi-disciplinary perspective that draws from biology, psychology, and anthropology. The search is for complementarities among these disciplines rather than conflicts between them, and the task requires a good deal of thinking “outside the box.” In addition, the task demands the development of conceptual skills necessary to move between analytic levels (from, for example, the organism to the thinking person to the social body—and back again) without either reducing or reifying. Students will be asked to read primary materials, both classic and current, about, among other controversial topics: the relationships between sex and gender; among language, perception, and motivation; and between (as argued by some) race and intelligence.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 20 students. Second semester. Professor Raybeck.

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 upon 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 emphasize symbol, performance, rhetoric, persuasion, embodiment, fantasy, imagination and authority as the sources of therapeutic power. The course will also take up idioms of healing as they are employed politically—taking healing both as a politicized process of personal persuasion and a collective process aimed at the level of the body politic.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2007-08.

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 between ethnic cuisines, nationalist movements and social classes.

Limited to 25 students. First semester. Professor Gewertz.

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 20 students. First semester. Professor Battaglia.

42. Madness and Politics. Using a combination of ethnographic and theoretical texts, this seminar will consider the anthropological, psychological, and political significance of “extreme” or “limit” experience(s)—e.g., psychosis, trauma, ecstasy, possession. The underlying question guiding this seminar is: What can such phenomena tell us about human experience, other than as a radical exception? The course will examine representations of madness, insanity, and trauma, especially as they are used in constituting social orders and disorders. In addition, it will explore the relationship between social-political contexts and mental illness, the significance of “extreme” experience for understanding what it means to be a subject, and anthropological approaches to the state of power in psychological and social terms.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Dole.

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- and second-year students must have consent of the instructor. Second semester. Professor Goheen.

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 2007-08. Professor Dole.

45. Medical Anthropology. The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the major theoretical orientations and themes animating contemporary medical anthropology. The general focus of the course will be on how one is to frame “illness,” “health,” “healing,” and “medicine” as objects of cultural and critical analysis. In addition to addressing several distinct domains of inquiry—cultural constructions of illness, medicine as a cultural system, social suffering, technology, gender, development, the social origins of distress—the course is also organized around a series of debates that have been highly influential in the development of medical anthropology as a field of inquiry.

Omitted 2007-08. Professor Dole.

77, 78. Senior Departmental Honors.

First and second semesters.

97, 97H, 98, 98H. Special Topics. Independent Reading Courses. Full or half course.

First and second semesters. The Department.

Related Courses

The Evolution of Human Nature. See Biology 14.

Second semester. Professor Zimmerman.

Myth, Ritual and Iconography. See Black Studies 42.

Second semester. Professor Abiodun.

Sacred Sound. See Music 3.

First semester. Professor Engelhardt.

Music, Human Rights, and Cultural Rights. See Music 7.

Second semester. Professor Engelhardt.

Sociology

10. Exploring Human Diversity: An Introduction to Anthropology and Sociology. (Also Anthropology 10.) See Anthropology 10.

Not open to students who have taken Anthropology 11 or Sociology 11. First semester. Professors Dizard and Gewertz.

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. Second semester. Professor Lembo.

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 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.”

First semester. Professor Himmelstein.

16. Social Research. This course introduces students to the range of methods with which sociologists and anthropologists work as they endeavor to create systematic understandings of social action. The strengths and weaknesses of these methods will be explored. Students will be expected to carry out a small scale research project or work with data already available from survey and census materials. Emphasis will be more on general procedures and epistemological issues than on narrowly defined techniques and statistical proofs.

Requisite: Anthropology/Sociology 10. Second semester. Professor Himmelstein.

21. Sociology of Family. The intent of this course is to assess the sources and implication of changes in family structure. We shall focus largely on contemporary family relationships in America, but we will necessarily have to examine family forms different from ours, particularly those that are our historical antecedents. From an historical/cross-cultural vantage point, we will be better able to understand shifting attitudes toward family as well as the ways family broadly shapes character and becomes an important aspect of social dynamics.

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

22. 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. First semester. Visiting Lecturer Souza.

31. Conceptualizing White Identity in the United States. (Also Black Studies 10.) 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. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Basler.

32. Thinking Differently about Culture. In this course we will examine the role difference has played in the culture of the United States at three key periods: the early 20th century, when culture competed with biology in the (eventual) formation of pluralist notions of democratic culture; the post-World War II era of civil rights, when the legislation of equality competed with segregationist and discriminatory ideas and practices in an economy of unprecedented growth in middle class consumerism; and the post-civil rights era, when globalization, changes in immigration policy, and economic polarization, among other things, contribute to distinctive transformations in the cultural make-up of American society. A variety of texts—fictional, historical, artistic, theoretical, and empirical—will be used in our investigation. Across these periods 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? How does it matter when aspects of cultural difference—previously ignored or marginalized in hegemonic accounts—become the focal point of inquiry? How do we distinguish among discourses of cultural differences? Do they circulate in the social mainstream or remain marginal? How are they subject to cooptation, assimilation, or exploitation?

Limited to 20 students. Second semester. Professor Lembo.

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. First semester. Professor Lembo.

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. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Basler.

39. Sociology of Conflict and Conflict Resolution. In this course we will explore the structural and social psychological origins of conflict, attentive especially to discovering those factors that seem to propel conflict toward violent confrontations. By examining a wide range of conflicts, from interpersonal discord to racial antagonisms and class conflicts to conflicts between nation-states, we will review a variety of theoretical approaches and perspectives. In addition to analyses of conflict, we shall also examine the growing literature on conflict resolution in an attempt to understand the mechanisms that might be useful for averting conflict and reducing tensions between hostile parties.

Requisite: Anthropology/Sociology 10, or consent of the instructor. Some familiarity with basic concepts and scholarly traditions will enable students to apply sociological concepts to the literature of psychologists, lawyers, and industrial relations experts. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Dizard.

40. Social Construction of Nature. This course rests on two premises. The first is that the non-human world—“nature”—exerts a profound influence on social relations. The second is that humans not only modify nature to suit their needs better, they 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 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 and how it slowly got transformed into the contemporary environmental movement.

Requisite: Anthropology/Sociology 10, or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Dizard.

41. The American Right. Since the 1980s, the Right has been the dominant force in American politics. For fall 2006, this course will examine the Christian Right within a framework of sociological ideas about the social bases of political conflict. We will look at the movement’s history, ideology, organizations, and leaders. We shall then examine the changing significance of religion and religiosity in American politics, with a focus on the idea of “culture wars.” This will require us to look closely at the differences between how political elites of all ideological persuasions address morally charged issues and how both conservative Christians and other Americans think about these issues. Finally, we shall examine the ways Americans have come in conflict with each other over abortion, gay rights, sex education, and similar issues.

First semester. Professor Himmelstein.

43. Drugs and Society. This course presents a sociological framework for studying the ways in which societies both encourage and restrict the use of psychoactive drugs.

Second semester. Professor Himmelstein.

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.

Second semester. Professor Guttmann.

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. It will examine the socioeconomic experiences of the various Latino groups (Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, among others). This examination will require that we pay 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 2007-08. Professor Basler.

47. Sociology from the Margins. In this course we will examine texts that are marginal to both the discipline of sociology (past and present) and the social mainstream and which, despite or perhaps because of their marginality, provide fresh insight regarding sociological issues and concerns. These texts—some by sociologists, some not—will be used to explore such things as changing modes of technological power, commodity culture, virtuality and its relation to “the real,” techniques for normalizing and regulating the self, the formation of the unconscious and its relation to a directive self, varieties of human and non-human agency, especially the “transgressive” sort, globalization and its effects on cultural life, and so on. The transition from Fordism to flexible accumulation, from modern to postmodern conditions, from colonial to postcolonial worlds, will figure importantly in course discussion. Emphasis will be placed throughout the course on identifying concepts and perspectives enabling us to see “the social” in ways unanticipated by conventional sociological thinking.

Limited to 20 students. First semester. Professor Lembo.

77, 78. Senior Departmental Honors.

First and second semesters.

97, 97H, 98, 98H. Special Topics. Independent Reading Courses. Full or half course.

First and second semesters. The Department.

Related Course

The Resilient (?) Earth: An Interdisciplinary Reflection on Contemporary Environmental Issues. See Pick Colloquium 22.

Second semester. Professors Dizard and Clotfelter.

 

 

Morgan Hall