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Anthropology and Sociology

Year:

2022-23

Anthropology

115 Health and Happiness in Different Societies

How do various kinds of people in various societies worldwide define and pursue happiness? How do they deal with aspects of everyday life that affect their physical and psychological health? How does one’s gender, age, country, sociocultural background, and socioeconomic status shape the ways in which one might pursue health and happiness? Students will read and discuss books and articles that try to answer such questions, and learn how to conduct collaborative research to answer questions about the ways in which people in a variety of different societies worldwide experience, define, and strive for health and happiness, with a particular emphasis on comparisons between China and the United States. All required course readings will be in English and have English translations, and no knowledge of Chinese language is needed for success in the class, though students with Chinese language skills will have the option of working with Chinese language materials as they do their research.

Limited to 15 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Fong.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

116 Anthropology and Life Stories

How can anthropology help us understand life stories? How can life stories illustrate, challenge, or extend theoretical claims? How can the life stories of anthropologists help us understand their perspectives and research methods? This course will teach students how to answer such questions. We will look at how and why anthropologists have chosen to write about particular experiences, life histories, and narratives of their research participants; how and why they wrote about their own life histories and experiences; and how such choices affected their research methods, approaches, and findings.

Limited to 19 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Fong.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

233 Listening, Hearing, and the Human

(Offered as MUSI 232 and ANTH 233) If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? A provisional answer from the field of sound studies is: no, the falling tree produces vibration, but does not make a sound absent a listening, hearing human subject. Take another step, and we arrive at ethnomusicologist John Blacking’s time-honored (but not unproblematic) definition of music as “humanly organized sound” and “soundly organized humanity.” In this course, we linger at the intersections of sound and music, listening and hearing to learn about the human. What happens as we encounter music, sound, and voice as forms of vibration available to our senses rather than as texts and sonic objects? How are listening and hearing culturally specific practices shaped by particular histories, identities, technologies, hierarchies of the senses, capitalist desires, human ecologies, concepts of ability and disability, and the work of performers, scholars, and sound artists? In addressing these questions through listening exercises and readings in music, sound, media studies, and anthropology, and listening exercises, we will employ what Pauline Oliveros calls “Deep Listening” (an ethical practice of listening to other humans and non-humans and to music) as a research methodology. Ultimately, this course will attune us to the urgency of listening to the sounds of protest, hearing voices speaking and singing across differences of power and privilege, and attending to what the sounds of the Anthropocene signal.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Engelhardt. 

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2021

239 Soundscapes of the Connecticut River Valley

(Offered as MUSI 238, ANTH 239 and FAMS 312) This course is about exploring, participating in, and documenting the musical communities and acoustic terrain of the Connecticut River Valley. The first part of the course will focus on local histories and music scenes, ethnographic methods and technologies, and different techniques of documentary representation. The second part of the course will involve intensive, sustained engagement with musicians and sounds in the Amherst vicinity (and beyond). Course participants will give weekly updates about their fieldwork projects and are expected to become well-versed in the musics they are studying. There will be a significant amount of work and travel outside of class meetings. The course will culminate in contributions to a web-based documentary archive of soundscapes projects. We will also benefit from visits and interaction with local musicians. Two class meetings per week. Visit http://www.valleysoundscapes.org/ for more information.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Engelhardt.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2018

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 2022-23. Professor C. Dole.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

248 Islamophobia

(Offered as ANTH 248 and SOCI 248) This course explores the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of anti-Muslim discrimination in the United State and Europe. What, in short, accounts for the anxious fear of Islam and the ascendance of “the Muslim” as the defining racial and religious “other” of our time. The course frames Islamophobia as anti-Muslim racism, challenging the idea that Islamophobia is merely a problem of individual bias and that “knowing more” about Islam will necessarily lead to a decrease in anti-Muslim racism. Instead, the course will explore how anti-Muslim discrimination is a reality of structural inequality rooted in the history of US and European empire building. By the end of the course, students will have considered how anti-Muslim discrimination relates to histories of white supremacy, racial exclusion, nationalism, settler colonialism, and the security logic of US foreign policy and war. Although the course’s primary focus is on the impact of anti-Muslim racism in the United States and Europe, this will necessarily require us to consider how anti-Muslim discourse functions as an organizing principle of US and European global power.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23.  Professor Dole.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

265 The Middle East: Anthropological Perspectives

(Offered as ANTH 265 and ASLC 266) This course draws on ethnographic writings, documentary film, and literary accounts to examine the everyday realities of people living in the region commonly referred to as the Middle East. Rather than attempting a survey of the entire region, the course explores a number of important themes in the anthropology of the Middle East. These themes include, among others: gender and sexuality, religious piety, urban space, migration, and political protest. By the end of the course, students will have gained an understanding of some of the most pressing issues being faced in the region, and the ways that anthropologists have explored these issues. No previous knowledge of the Middle East or anthropology is assumed.   

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2022-23.  Professor Dole.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2021

310 Culture, Affect, and Psychiatry

This seminar draws on readings from medical and psychological anthropology, cultural psychiatry, and science studies to examine mental health and illness as a set of subjective experiences, social processes, and objects of knowledge and intervention. The course invites students to think through the complex relationships between categories of psychiatric knowledge, techniques of clinical practice, and the subjectivities of persons living with mental illness. The course will take up such questions as: Does mental illness vary across social, cultural, and historical contexts? How does the language of psychopathology, and the clinical setting of its use, affect people’s experience of psychological and emotional suffering? What novel forms of care, as well as neglect, have emerged with the “pharmaceuticalization” of psychiatry? How does contemporary psychiatry articulate a distinctive relationship between affect and power? These questions, among others, will be examined through richly contextualized ethnographic and historical writings, literary accounts, clinical studies, and films. The course will emphasize a comparative approach, as it explores the ways that anthropologists have struggled to examine mental illness and mental health in a cross-cultural perspective.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor C. Dole.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2019, Spring 2022

311 Culture and Mental Health:  Decolonizing the Psyche

Are psychiatric disease categories and treatment protocols universally applicable? How can we come to understand the lived experience of mental illness and abnormality? And how can we trace the roots of such experience – whether through brain circuitry, cultural practices, forms of power, or otherwise? In this course, we will draw on psychological anthropology, cultural psychiatry, science studies, and decolonizing methodologies to examine mental health and illness in terms of subjective experience, social processes, and knowledge production. Our goal will be to recognize the centrality of the social world as a force that defines and drives the incidence, occurrence, and course of mental illness, as well as to appreciate the complex relationship between professional and personal accounts of disorder.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Five College Assistant Professor Aulino.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

317 Researching China

(Offered as ANTH 317 and ASLC 317) This course teaches students how to design research projects and analyze data about people in China. Students will read about and discuss previous findings from the instructor’s longitudinal project about Chinese only-children and their families, and findings from comparable projects in China and elsewhere. Course assignments will be tailored to the interests, skills, and academic background of each student, so first-year students, sophomores, and students with no Chinese language skills are welcome and just as likely to succeed as juniors, seniors, and students with Chinese language skills. Each student will work not only on assignments suitable for his/her current skills and interests, but also read the work of other students with different skills, interests, and disciplinary knowledge and participate in discussions of their work, so all students will learn about the many different kinds of skills and research methods that can help them gain a better understanding of China.

Requisite: Chinese language skills or ANTH 112, 115, 288, 318, 323, or 332, or a similar course. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Fong.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

325 Protest!

(Offered as SOCI 325 and ANTH 325) From Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March, protests across the globe are questioning the social, political and economic status quo. This course explores the concept and practice of protest from sociological and anthropological perspectives. Why do people protest? What are their cultural and social forms? How does one understand the emotions involved? What is the role of technology? What relationships exist between the act of protest and social movements? Are protests always progressive? How does the study of protest help one understand power, democracy, and societal change? To explore these questions we will look at ethnography and history of collective mobilizations, from anti-colonial movements to nationalist struggles, as well as contemplate the future of protest for the U.S. and the rest of the world. While the readings will include case study research and key theoretical texts, we will also speak with organizers and participants of current uprisings to understand concerns on the ground.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professors Holleman and Chowdhury.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

329 Feeling Politics: An Anthropology of Political Affect

When were you last outraged at the state of politics? When did you feel an inexplicable love for political symbols, either objects or personalities? Do they ever make you cringe? Or perhaps you glean much pleasure from the often-farcical nature of modern political life? Do you cry, laugh, get scared, or feel overwhelmed by political spectacles that make up our 24/7 existence? If so, you, like most of us, experience politics at a corporeal level. Instead of discounting these “feelings” as irrational and secondary to reasoned deliberations and solemn institutions, this course takes them seriously. The readings at this seminar consider public political life as an affect-laden world where emotional and bodily attachments – some articulate, others unconscious – are as indispensable and effective as discourse and procedure. This course is as much about feeling politics as it is about the politics of feelings. Even when our feelings seem deeply personal, the forms of their expression reveal larger histories – of modernity, colonialism, secularism, and the economy, to name a few. In other words, our senses, much like our institutions, are shaped by culture. Feeling Politics aims to understand the cultures of affect in politics and the lifeworlds that are shaped by them.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Chowdhury.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) 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 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. A half course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011

499 Senior Departmental Honors

Spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Sociology

200 Race, Education, and Belonging

(Offered as AMST 200, EDST 200, and SOCI 200) Disproportionate numbers of students of color drop out or disengage from schools in America each year. Responding to the framework of “drop out,” critical educational scholars have argued that many school practices, policies, and cultures “push out” already marginalized students, or at the very least, do not take sufficient steps to create an inclusive culture that supports all students’ participation and sense of belonging. This course examines the ways in which race and racism influence political, social, cultural, and institutional belonging. This interdisciplinary course will draw on theory and research from the fields of education, sociology, and ethnic studies to examine the conditions of schooling that prompt students’ formal and less formal forms of school disengagement. We will explore how educational institutions, educators, and their community partners support students’ access to and engagement with education. We will examine educational reform practices that strive to cultivate a culture of belonging and community in schools. In particular, we will examine programs and schools that forefront anti-racist education, community engagement, student participation, critical multicultural education, and restorative justice.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

202 The Asian American Experience

(Offered as AMST 204 and SOCI 202) How do race, immigration, and the state not only shape people’s access to resources but also delimit who belongs to the nation, self-conceptions, and personal relationships? How can ethnic minorities at times be “out-whiting whites” but still be denied full citizenship by the state? What does it mean to grow up within a culture but never fully identify with it? We will answer these questions and more by examining Asian Americans' efforts for belonging and social justice as full members of the United States. Substantive topics include how race, gender, sexuality, and class intersect to influence life chances; immigration laws and trends; how people form ethnic and racial identities while becoming “good Americans”; educational experiences of youth and so-called “Tiger parents”; how family and relationship formations are shaped by race and immigration; media portrayals; inter-minority solidarities and tensions.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

208 Sociology of Work:  Discourses on Toil

Sundays are not necessarily sunnier than Mondays. Nonetheless, most people prefer Sundays to Mondays. In this course, we discuss this interesting phenomenon in reference to the following question: which historical factors distinguish between days, hours, activities, and places within the “productive” and “unproductive” binary? We will review the basic theoretical perspectives on the homicide of homo ludens by homo faber, read excerpts from ethnographic and historical works on the transformation of the condition of labor from the late nineteenth century onwards in different regions of the world, and discuss the countervailing tendencies toward homogenization and diversification in the labor process, employment, and career building.

We will also look at how millennials have responded to some of the challenges pertinent to dual labor markets, such as investing further in their skills, “delaying” many of the common rites of passage such as marriage, and sometimes withdrawing partially from both productive and consumptive activities.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important labor datasets collected by key agencies and institutions such as Bureau of Labor Statistics, World Bank, ILO, and UnStat and use these materials to address the question of how the conditions of work may become diversified and/or homogenized, depending on the region, sector, and group of laborers. Students will gain the skills to assess the basic dynamics in work and employment relations and to investigate related empirical questions using a range of data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

209 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Omitted 2022-23.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

215 "The Embodied Self" in American Culture and Society

(Offered as AMST 115 and SOCI 215) The course 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 18 students per section. Spring semester. Professor Couvares and Senior Lecturer Bergoffen.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

220 What is Development?  Rethinking Solutions for Health, Sustainability, and Global Justice

What is “development”? What makes some places more or less “developed”? Does the process of development unfold simply as a steady “march of progress” and modernization, or also as a contested historical process of social change? This course is an introduction to development sociology and the interdisciplinary field of development studies. We will study the history and major theories of development and globalization and examine some of the most pressing contemporary issues of health, sustainability, and social justice. By tracing the historical transformations between colonialism, the development era, the neoliberal globalization project, and sustainable development, this course will show how development stems from unequal power relationships between and among peoples and countries of the Global North and Global South.  Students will learn to think critically about past ideas and proposals for development and modernization and search for better solutions for the twenty-first century. Readings include foundational texts and cutting-edge research in development sociology and interdisciplinary development studies. In addition to the lectures, students will cultivate critical thinking and improve skills in reading, writing, discussion, and creativity through dialogue, creative group projects, and independent research.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Zhang.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023

243 Drugs and Society

This course examines the use and control of mood-altering drugs in the United States today from a sociological and critical perspective. The issues we examine include the strange confluence of legal and illegal drugs in the making of the opioid “epidemic” and the ongoing effort to criticize and reform the “War on Drugs.”

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Himmelstein.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

248 Islamophobia

(Offered as ANTH 248 and SOCI 248) This course explores the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of anti-Muslim discrimination in the United State and Europe. What, in short, accounts for the anxious fear of Islam and the ascendance of “the Muslim” as the defining racial and religious “other” of our time. The course frames Islamophobia as anti-Muslim racism, challenging the idea that Islamophobia is merely a problem of individual bias and that “knowing more” about Islam will necessarily lead to a decrease in anti-Muslim racism. Instead, the course will explore how anti-Muslim discrimination is a reality of structural inequality rooted in the history of US and European empire building. By the end of the course, students will have considered how anti-Muslim discrimination relates to histories of white supremacy, racial exclusion, nationalism, settler colonialism, and the security logic of US foreign policy and war. Although the course’s primary focus is on the impact of anti-Muslim racism in the United States and Europe, this will necessarily require us to consider how anti-Muslim discourse functions as an organizing principle of US and European global power.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23.  Professor Dole.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

268 Rethinking Race and Class in Rural America

This course will bring a sociological lens to contemporary race and class relations in rural America. Drawing from social-historical analyses, ethnography, interview-based research, and memoir, we will look at the social forces at the base of shifting rural demographics, as well as how these shifts are being experienced in rural daily life. Central to the course will be an analysis of how place shapes the relationship between race and class, and how these place-based relationships in turn shape individual and collective identity. Throughout the course we will reflect on what anti-racist, equitable community building might look like in rural America and beyond.

Spring semester.  Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

306 Pandemics and Society: The Socio-Ecological Construction of Infectious Diseases throughout History

(Offered as SOCI-306 and ENST-306) How and why do pandemics emerge? How have pandemics been shaped by social and ecological conditions around the world? And how do pandemics in turn transform society and our environment? This is a research-oriented interdisciplinary seminar examining how epidemic infectious diseases are not naturally given but socially and environmentally constructed. We will study the plague (including the Black Death), smallpox, dengue, malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, influenza, HIV, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, and draw upon examples from all around the world throughout history. Special attention is given to environmental change and modernization, science and technology, state-making and globalization, migration and geopolitics, as well as class, race/ethnicity and gender inequalities. The seminar will draw on readings in sociology, anthropology, history, geography, public health, biology, epidemiology, political ecology, and other interdisciplinary fields. Lectures will be accompanied by discussion, and students will be required to undertake independent research, write a final essay, and present their work to the class. We will explore the possibility of publishing final essays as a collection.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Zhang.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST-308, EDST-308 and SOCI-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Religion and Political Communication: Preachers, Demagogues and Trolls in the Society of the Spectacle

Secularization of the society poses challenges for organized religions, which in return adopt new communication strategies to address the risk of a shrinking believer base. In this course, we survey some recent strategies with an emphasis on the discursive tactics by clerics of Semitic religions. Students will review theories of political communication and read case studies on how clerics (or “preachers”) use mass and social media. Then, we will relate these strategies to the way political celebrities (or “demagogues”) and anonymous figures (or “trolls”) convey messages about how society works (or fails to work) to the public. Students will learn how to assess written and oral material using content analysis and conduct a pilot study about the material produced by clerics.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

326 Immigration and the New Latino Second Generation

(Offered as AMST 326 and SOCI 326) This course focuses on Latino immigrant youth and the children of Latino immigrants who are coming of age in the contemporary United States, what social scientists have termed the “new second generation.” Currently this generation is the fastest-growing demographic of children under 18 years of age. The majority of youth in the “new second generation” are Latino.

Drawing on sociological and anthropological texts, fiction, and memoir, we will explore the social factors, historical legacies, and policies that in large part shape the lived experiences of Latino youth. We begin by laying a historical and theoretical base for the course, exploring the notions of assimilation and transnationalism. We then move into an exploration of the intersecting contexts of inequality which contextualize daily life for the new second generation. Specifically we investigate how social class, race, gender, and “illegality” intersect with generation to shape the struggles, opportunities, identities and aspirations of Latino youth.

Requisite: Previous course(s) in SOCI, ANTH, AMST, BLST or LLAS. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

328 The Pandemic

(Offered as SOCI 328 and ENST 328) This course examines the root social and ecological conditions that gave rise to the COVID-19 pandemic and that help explain the significant inequalities we observe in terms of its impact. We study the structure and historical development of the global economy and the state, class and racial formation, the gendered division of society, and global ecological challenges, all of which provide necessary background to understand the pandemic’s emergence, effects, and the range of social response, including state policy. These studies include attention to the persistent consequences of colonialism, settler colonialism, and racial capitalism. We also study the contested nature of these developments, such as how movements and struggles over political power, economic development, racial justice, ecological protection, and public health, shape outcomes.

This course will be conducted in a hybrid format, with more of the course online and in-person meetings included as possible. Options for online-only participation will be available for those students unable to participate in person.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professors Holleman and Lembo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

341 Ecology, Justice, and the Struggle for Socio-Ecological Change: Environmental Movements and Ideas

(Offered as SOCI 341 and ENST 341) Social movements—from the early conservation and anti-colonial movements that began over a century ago, to the modern climate justice movement—have worked to make environmental issues and inequalities part of the global political and policy agenda. The course draws upon sociological research that fosters an understanding of contemporary environmental debates, as well as the possibilities and obstacles we face in attempting to address socio-ecological problems. We study diverse global environmental movements and proposed environmental solutions, which reflect a wide range of perspectives and interests, as well as social inequalities. Inequality within and between countries means that different issues are at stake in negotiations addressing ecological problems for communities and people of different social locations. Race, ethnicity, class, gender, and position in the global economy affect both the way we experience socio-ecological change, and the ways we imagine and attempt to solve contemporary problems. Therefore, issues of environmental justice are highlighted as we study the history and achievements of environmental movements internationally, as well as enduring challenges and controversies. The syllabus is designed to benefit both the most seasoned environmentalists and students of the history of environmentalism, as well as participants for whom the course topics are new.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Holleman.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Socio-Ecological Victories and Visions

(Offered as SOCI 342 and ENST 342) If you learn about the major trends shaping human societies and the rest of the planet in our era, you might ask these questions: How do we reduce the vast inequalities threatening democracy and undermining the self-determination of peoples around the world? How do we address global-scale crises like climate change, the pollution of the earth’s lands and waters, and anthropogenic extinction of species? How do we heal social divisions to build movements based on solidarity and reparation that transcend a “single-issue” focus while emphasizing the distinct needs of diverse communities? Can we imagine a society geared toward meeting culturally-determined human needs and deepening human happiness, while at the same time restoring the earth systems on which we depend? How do we engage such daunting issues with strength and, at times, joy?

These are massive questions now asked by scholars, scientists, activists, and communities around the world. This course explores answers to these questions through in-depth sociological analyses of critical victories and visions toward ecological and social change emerging internationally in the past decade. Such case studies represent hopeful challenges to the xenophobic, racist, anti-ecological, homophobic, misogynistic, winner-takes-all politics threatening much of life on earth.

Students must have at least one course in either SOCI or ANTH, or ENST 120, or other courses addressing the trends that are central to this course.

Limited to 18 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Holleman.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

352 The Purpose and Politics of Education

(Offered as EDST 352, HIST 352 [US/TC/TR/TS], AMST 352 and SOCI 352) Focusing on the United States, this course introduces students to foundational questions and texts central to Education Studies. We will explore the competing goals and priorities Americans have held for primary, secondary and post-secondary education and ask how and why these visions have influenced—or failed to influence—classrooms, schools, and educational policy. We will pay particular attention to sources of educational stratification; the tensions between the public and private purposes of schooling; and the relationship between schooling and equality. 

In the first part of the course, students will reflect on how Americans have imagined the purpose of self-education, literacy, public schooling, and the liberal arts. Among the questions we will consider: What do Americans want from public schools? Does education promote liberation? Has a liberal arts education outlived its usefulness? How has the organization of schools and school systems promoted some educational objectives in lieu of others? In the second section of the course, we will concentrate on the politics of schooling. Here, we will pay particular attention to several issues central to understanding educational inequality and its relationship to American politics, culture, and society: localism; state and federal authority; desegregation; and the complicated relationship between schooling and racial, linguistic, class-based, gender, and ethnic hierarchies. Finally, we will explore how competing ideas about the purpose and politics of education manifest themselves in current policy debates about privatization, charters, testing, and school discipline. Throughout the course, students will reflect on both the limits and possibilities of American schools to challenge and reconfigure the social order.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Luschen. 

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-2023. Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

390 Special Topics

Independent reading course. A full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Related Courses

BLST-315 Myth, Ritual and Iconography in West Africa (Course not offered this year.)