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Amherst College Anthropology and Sociology for 2019-20

Anthropology

112 Sociocultural Anthropology

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

Spring semester. Professor Gewertz.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

114 The Evolution of Human Nature

(Offered as BIOL 114 and ANTH 114) After consideration of the relevant principles of animal behavior, genetics, and population biology, it will be shown that extensions of the theory of natural selection—kin selection, reciprocal altruism, parent-offspring conflict, sexual selection, and parental manipulation of sex ratios—provide unifying explanations for the many kinds of social interactions found in nature, from those between groups, between individuals within groups and between genes within individuals. The emphasis throughout will be on the special physical, social and psychological adaptations that humans have evolved, including the instincts to create language and culture, conflict and cooperation within and between the sexes, moral emotions, the mating system and family, kinship and inheritance, reciprocity and exchange, cooking, long-distance running, homicide, socioeconomic hierarchies, warfare, patriarchy, religions and religious beliefs, deceit and self-deception, systems of laws and justice and the production, performance and appreciation of art. Along the way, we will consider how misrepresentations of evolutionary theory have been used to support political and social ideologies and, more recently, to attack evolutionary theory itself as scientifically flawed and morally corrupt.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Emeritus Zimmerman.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

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 2019-20. Professor Fong.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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. Fall semester. Professor Fong.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

201 Anthropology and Science Fiction

How can anthropology help us understand the cultural assumptions, empirical knowledge, and causal and interpretive theories underlying science fiction and related genres such as fantasy, magical realism, and social science fiction? How can anthropology help writers of such genres draw on more valid and plausible assumptions, knowledge, and theories as they build fictional worlds and characters? How can fictional writers’ hypotheses about what events, people, and processes might look like under different conditions, and their efforts to write about such hypotheses in innovative, engaging, and thought-provoking ways, help us think about how anthropologists might write about real-life experiences that differ from those we already understand? This course will help students think about such questions by engaging with anthropological studies and science fiction stories that relate to each other in enlightening ways. We will read and discuss stories that describe how people in a variety of societies might react to experiences that have not yet been documented in our world, as well as anthropological ethnographies of how real people in those same societies deal with analogous experiences in our world. As part of this process, we will discuss the nature and meaning of life, the universe, science, and human behavior, and consider how understandings of anthropology, science fiction, and related genres might help us predict the outcomes of current news events.

Limited to 19 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Fong.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019

205 Latin American Nations

This course focuses on the history and anthropology of Latin American countries, examining them as postcolonial entities. We will study the rich history and complex politics of Latin America, with an emphasis on the last century, to understand what constitutes "nation" and how that notion has shifted with the increase in mobility and global connectivity. Throughout the course we will challenge dominant ideas of "Latin America" to understand the diversity of lived experiences, asking: What is a nation? How did Latin American nations emerge? How do race, gender, indigeneity, and other concepts and practices intersect with the concept of nation? How have social movements, neoliberalism, and militarization affected nations? What role has the U.S. played in shaping Latin America? Is nation still a useful or viable concept when thinking about Latin America? What does it mean to be "Latin American" or "Peruvian" or "Mexican" or "Brazilian" today?

Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hall.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019

208 Ethnographic Methods in Religious Studies

(Offered as ANTH 208 and REL 129) Ethnography refers to both a set of research methods and a genre of scholarly writing about living people. In this course, we will read influential ethnographies of religious communities, as well as conduct ethnographic research on and writing about local communities ourselves. We will begin with a close reading of a classic work in the field. This will help us get a sense of what ethnography is and better understand its place in the study of religion. Then we will engage in a series of exercises to learn essential ethnographic methods and practice writing fieldnotes and ethnographic narrative. As the semester progresses, students will propose and conduct sustained fieldwork projects on local religious communities, which they will synthesize in ethnographic narratives that they will workshop with the instructor and their peers. By the end of the course, students will have substantial experience in ethnographic research and writing, as well as a nuanced understanding of the challenges and ethics of engaging in both.

Omitted 2019-20.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

211 Feminist Science Studies

(Offered as ANTH 211 and SWAG 108) This course introduces students to theories and methodologies in the interdisciplinary field of feminist science studies. Specific areas of investigation include scientific cultures, animal models, and science in the media and popular culture. Students will continuously engage larger questions such as: What kinds of knowledge count as "science?" What is objectivity? How have cultural assumptions shaped scientific knowledge production in this and other historical periods? What is the relationship between "the body" and scientific data? And, finally, is feminist science possible?

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019

213 Life and Times of a Buddhist Farmer

(Offered as RELI 161 and ANTH 213). For many, the predominant image of Buddhism is a religion focused on the next life and relieving suffering through meditation practice. Yet the majority of Buddhists in the world use the religion to create meaning in their immediate lives, guiding them through practical problems and life cycle changes. This course examines the role of Buddhism in rural life in Asia and Buddhist communities in the United States. We will ask how Buddhist communities work, including the roles of monastics, lay spiritual leaders, and lay people. Numerous rituals structure elements of rural life, from life cycle rites, particularly funerals, to New Year celebrations, to planting and harvesting ceremonies. In many rural communities, Buddhist practices and rituals intersect with other belief systems, including animism, Brahmanism, Confucianism, and Shintoism, depending on the location. Cases from across the Buddhist world will provide empirical examples through which we can study how people interpret and practice the religion. Topics include Buddhist agriculture in Thailand, Japan, and the United States; how funerals inform daily life in rural Cambodia; and the question of vegetarianism in Tibet. In the process, students will be introduced to basic Buddhist concepts, diversity within Buddhist schools of thought, and how Buddhism has evolved as a lived religion in specific social contexts.

Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Darlington.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

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. Omitted 2019-20. Five College Professor Klarich.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019

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. The 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 2019-20. Five College Professor Klarich.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 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. Fall semester. Professor C. Dole.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Dole.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

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. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Chowdhury.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

288 Comparative Education

This course will examine how and why education differs in different countries and communities. Students will learn how to compare how and why various kinds of people experience and make decisions about education. We will look at various levels of education, including preschool, kindergarten, primary school, middle school, high school, and college.

Requisite: ANTH 112. Limited to 19 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Fong.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2018

303 Eat! An Exhibition Seminar at the Mead

In this weekly seminar, students will research, design, and install an exhibition at the Mead Museum centered on the theme of food. Working in teams, students will have the opportunity to experience various aspects of curating a museum exhibit - from selecting and researching art and objects to display, to determining interpretive strategies, to coordinating installation, to writing object labels, to planning educational and public programs for the exhibition. Critical course readings centered on food and museum studies during the first half of the course will provide the foundation for student-directed research outside the class. Situating art and objects as both visual culture and ethnographic evidence, the course asks: How have people built kinship, community and meaning through food and eating? What visual and material culture has been created to celebrate and interrogate the act of planting, preparing, and consuming food? What has been considered a food delicacy and how has that shifted in time? In what ways have foodstuffs been part of a “transit of empire”? What new stories might emerge through conversations amongst those objects?

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Hall and E. Potter-Ndiaye.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019

304 The Photograph

In this course we will consider and examine the photograph as a specific type of social actor. We will explore the ways in which the photograph is a unique representational type, a potent tool for memory making, and a powerful medium to navigate, question and shape social constructs and assumptions. Additionally, we will investigate how the photograph has been deployed as evidence, from its earliest use in scientific projects to its current use in myriad industries and media platforms. In so doing the course seeks to understand the many roles photography has played, and continues to play, in shaping self, culture and knowledge. While this is not a course in photographic technique, students may be asked to produce their own images.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor A. Hall.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018

308 American Housing: Foundations and Futures

The 2007/08 collapse of the U.S. housing market and subsequent global recession transformed the social, economic, and cultural significance of “home” as millions of Americans went into foreclosure, the rate of homeownership plummeted, and emergent minimalist and “Tiny Home” movements garnered widespread appeal. This course considers the “home” as an object in transition and as a concept that shapes our understanding of identity, family, community, and nation. From foundational kinship, feminist, and poststructuralist theorists to more recent ethnographic and popular media texts, we will survey the shifting terrain of American housing form and policy across a range of topics such as redlining and racial segregation, suburbanization and gentrification, homelessness and new directions in cooperative or micro-living. Students will lead classroom discussions, critically analyze texts, meet local housing advocates and builders, and work collaboratively on these themes, culminating in a final project that will attempt to answer the question: how can we solve today’s local, national, and global housing crises?

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Formanack.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

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 2019-20. Professor C. Dole.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2019

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: ANTH 115. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Fong.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2019

318 Chinese Childrearing

(Offered as ANTH 318 and ASLC 318) 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. 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 are welcome and just as likely to succeed as juniors, seniors, and students with Chinese language skills.

Requisite: ANTH 115, 288, 317, 323, or 332. Limited to 20 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Fong.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2018

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.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

324 Cultures of Money

This course explores money as an ethnographic object. It focuses on anthropological writing about the everyday uses of money from “exotic” fields to places much closer to “home," from colonial encounters to household budgeting and the world of finance, for example. Anthropology has long been interested in the diverse ways in which people attach meanings, desires, and value to the idea that is money. If modern money is a universally recognized object of value, what can the histories and cultures of its circulation say about the making of the contemporary world? The course answers the question by approaching money not simply as equal and interchangeable as it is generally understood, but full of cultural significance. Together we will see how money is a powerful medium through which one can understand important social and cultural phenomena, such as morality, violence, faith, gender, power, and resistance.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Chowdhury.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2018

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 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professors Holleman and Chowdhury.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

328 Gender, Law, and Technology

(Offered as SWAG 221 and ANTH 328) This course uses interdisciplinary feminist approaches in the social sciences and humanities to explore the politics of law, science, and technology, especially in relation to questions of power and identity. How do law and technology influence our understandings of sex, gender, race, and sexuality? How are gendered identities constituted locally and transnationally through engagements with science, technology, and law? To explore these questions, we examine a variety of topics including legal and scientific understandings of sex and sexuality; gendered and racialized aspects of biomedical research; the role of law and technoscience in reproductive justice movements; and, the gendered character of patent law, pharmaceutical development and marketing.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019

331 Anthropology and the Middle East

(Offered as ANTH 331 and ASLC 341) 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 be 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. Fall semester. Professor C. Dole.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

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 Dole.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
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

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 2019-20. Professor Gewertz.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

336 Feminist Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 336 and ANTH 336) This course introduces students to ethnographic research methods by exploring how interdisciplinary feminist scholars have engaged and challenged traditional anthropology. We will consider the dynamics of fieldwork, the ethics of research, and the production of anthropological knowledge through an engagement with the history of feminism in the discipline as well as with contemporary feminist debates. Students will design their own projects and conduct mini-ethnographies throughout the semester. Course topics include the cultures of biomedicine; the anthropology of reproduction; race, gender, and embodiment; and multispecies ethnography.

Recommended Requisite: 100-level SWAGS or ANTH course. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

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. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Gewertz.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

355 Time, Belief, and the Mind

In this course, we will work at the intersections of psychological anthropology and the anthropology of religion to explore the foundations of human experience. We will ask: What are the boundaries between ordinary and extraordinary experience? In what ways is our thinking along such lines conditioned, as scholars and as social actors, more generally? And are there means to break habituated ways of knowing to arrive at fresh insight into our own ways of being and that of others? These questions, among others, will be examined through richly contextualized ethnographic writings, science fiction and literary accounts, films, and some cross-disciplinary work from physicists and cognitive scientists. Topics will include new work on local theory of mind, cultures of belief, karma, notions of the self, and varying modes of spiritual experience. Together we will explore ontological possibilities and their political and practical ramifications.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2019-20. Five College Assistant Professor Aulino.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

375 Subaltern Studies: History from Below

(Offered as HIST 375 [AS/TC/TE], ANTH 375 and ASLC 375) This course explores the intervention made by the Subaltern Studies Collective in the discipline of history-writing, particularly in the context of South Asia. Dissatisfied that previous histories of Indian nationalism were all in some sense “elitist,” this group of historians, anthropologists, and literary theorists sought to investigate how various marginalized communities—women, workers, peasants, adivasis—contributed in their own terms to the making of modern South Asia. Their project thus engaged broader methodological questions and problems about how to write histories of the marginal. Combining theoretical statements with selections from the 12-volume series as well as individual monographs, our readings and discussion will chart the overall trajectory of Subaltern Studies from its initial moorings in the works of the Italian Marxian theorist Antonio Gramsci to its later grounding in the critique of colonial discourse. The objective is to understand how this school of history-writing transformed the understanding of modern South Asian history. Our discussion will engage with the critiques and debates generated in response to the project and the life of the analytical category, “subalternity,” outside South Asia. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Sen.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2018

431 Istanbul

(Offered as HIST 494 [ME], ANTH 431, and ASLC 494) At different points in its nearly 2000-year history, the city now known as Istanbul has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. Alternately branded as a “global city” and selected as the “Cultural Capital of Europe,” Istanbul continues to thrive as a complex urban landscape of intersecting economies, histories, and ideas. Over its long history, millions of people and multiple communities have called Istanbul their home—each shaping the city with distinct visions of the past and longings for the future. As innumerable identities (communal, religious, national, ethnic) have been both claimed and erased to serve a variety of political, economic, and social ideologies, Istanbul stands today as a city where the meanings of space and place are contested like few others. This seminar explores the connections between contemporary politics and society in Turkey through the contested histories of space and place-making in Istanbul, with special attention to the varied historical legacy of architecture of the city. Two 80 minute class meetings per week.

The seminar will culminate with a 12-day trip to Istanbul, Turkey. All students enrolled in the course are expected to participate in the trip. The trip will begin immediately after the final exam period, departing on May 12 and returning on May 23. The cost of the trip will be covered by the College.

Recommended requisite: Prior course work in Middle East studies. Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Open to sophomores and juniors. Admission with consent of the instructors. Enrollment is by written application only, with an interview process to follow. Omitted 2019-20. Professors Dole and Ringer.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018

445 Listening, Hearing, and the Human

(Offered as MUSI 445 and ANTH 445) 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 seminar, 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 readings in music, sound, media studies, and anthropology, media projects and listening exercises; we will employ what Pauline Oliveros calls “deep listening” (an ethical practice of listening to others and to music) as a research methodology. Seminar work will benefit from visiting scholars and artists and culminate in scholarly, creative, or media-based projects designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: Music 241 and 242, or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2019-20. Professors Engelhardt and Harper.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. A full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

Sociology

112 Self and Society: An Introduction to Sociology

The course introduces students to what C. Wright Mills referred to as the “sociological imagination.” Through accounts both classic and contemporary, students will learn to interrogate in a systematic way both their own lives and the lives of those around them, understanding how they are shaped in significant ways by groups, communities, institutions, and social structures, even as they remain authors of their own actions and determiners of their own fate. In this sense, the dynamics of what sociologists call “power” and “agency” are woven into every aspect of the course. Inequalities—most notably, race, class, and gender—will figure importantly as we explore important topics such as higher education, gendered expectations of parenting, mass incarceration and structural racism, cultural transformations accompanying neoliberal capitalism, and present-day opportunities for social mobility.

Limited to 30 students. In the Fall, 15 spaces are reserved for first-year students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Lembo.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

200 Belonging in School

(Offered as AMST 200 and SOCI 200) Large numbers of students continue to drop out or disengage from American schools each year. Critical educational researchers have argued that many school practices, policies, and cultures “push out” the most marginalized students, or at the very least, do not take sufficient steps to create a culture of belonging. This course examines political, social, and institutional belonging as well as the conditions of schooling that prompt students’ formal and less formal forms of school disengagement. Drawing on theory and research from the fields of education, sociology, and ethnic studies, we will explore how educators and their community partners support students’ access to and engagement in 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 community engagement, student participation, critical multicultural education, creative interventions, and restorative justice.

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

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019

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 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Dhingra.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

203 Youth, Schooling, and Popular Culture

(Offered as AMST 203 and SOCI 203) What do we understand about schools, teachers, and students through our engagement with popular culture? How do we interrogate youth clothing as a site of cultural expression and school-based control? How do race, class, and gender shape how youth make sense of and navigate cultural events such as the prom? Contemporary educational debates often position schools and popular culture as oppositional and as vying for youth's allegiance. Yet schools and popular culture overlap as educational sites in the lives of youth. In this course, we will employ feminist, critical race, and cultural studies perspectives to analyze representations of schooling and youth in popular culture. By doing so, we will consider the historically shifting meaning of youth, interrogate an oppositional stance to school and popular culture, and examine relationships of power and representation in educational sites. Readings, class discussions, and frequent film screenings will support our examination.

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

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

208 Discourses on Toil: The Condition of Labor and Work in the Post-Fordist Society

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.

Fall semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

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.

Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

226 Unequal Footprints on the Earth: Understanding the Social Drivers of Ecological Crises and Environmental Inequality

(Offered as SOCI 226 and ENST 226) Creating a more sustainable relationship between human society and the rest of nature requires changing the way we relate to one another as humans. This course will explain why, while answering a number of associated questions and introducing the exciting and engaged field of environmental sociology. We study the anthropogenic drivers of environmental change from an interdisciplinary and historical perspective to make sense of pressing socio-ecological issues, including climate change, sustainability and justice in global food production, the disproportionate location of toxic waste disposal in communities of color, biodiversity loss, desertification, freshwater pollution and unequal access, the accumulation and trade in electronic waste, the ecological footprint of the Internet, and more. We examine how these issues are linked to broad inequalities within society, which are reflected in, and exacerbated by, persistent problems with environmental racism, the unaddressed legacies of colonialism, and other contributors to environmental injustice worldwide. Industrialization and the expansionary tendencies of the modern economic system receive particular attention, as these continue to be central factors promoting ecological change. Throughout the course a hopeful perspective in the face of such interrelated challenges is encouraged as we study promising efforts and movements that emphasize both ecological restoration and achievement of a more just, democratic world.

Course readings include foundational texts in environmental sociology, as well as the most current research on course topics. Writing and research assignments allow for the development of in-depth analyses of social and environmental issues relevant to students' community, everyday life, personal experience, and concerns.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Holleman.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

241 Trump, the Right, and American Society

The election of Donald Trump was startling to many. We begin with the many efforts to explain this, focusing on the role of race, class, place, and political party. We then contextualize that election in four ways: (1) historically (how the American Right has developed over time); (2) socially (how political choices emerge from the complexities of everyday lives); (3) comparatively (how “right-wing populism” is similar or different in different societies); and (4) structurally (the role of large structures and big processes like globalization and neo-liberalism).

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Himmelstein.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007

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 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Himmelstein.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019

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 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Dole.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

250 Being Human in STEM

(Offered as CHEM 250 and SOCI 250)  This is an interactive course that combines academic inquiry and community engagement to investigate identity, inequality and representation within STEM fields--at Amherst and beyond. In the first half of the semester we will ground our understanding of the STEM experience at Amherst in national and global contexts. We will survey the interdisciplinary literature on the ways in which identity - gender, class, race, sexuality- and geographic context shape STEM persistence and belonging. In parallel, we will research the local STEM experience by conducting oral histories with current and past members of the Amherst STEM community, then collectively identify common themes that emerge. In the second half of the semester, students will design group projects that apply the findings of our research to develop resources and engage the STEM community, whether at the college, local, or national level.  Course work includes weekly readings, reflective writing, in-class discussion, and oral history research culminating in a collaborative, community engagement project which students will present in a public forum. The class will meet twice a week for 80 minutes. 

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students due to the research-intensive and discussion- and project-based nature of the class. Spring semester. Associate Professor Jaswal and Professor Schmalzbauer.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

260 Latino Migration: Labor, Lifestyle and Legality

(Offered as AMST 260 and SOCI 260) Whereas capital, culture, and commerce flow freely in contemporary capitalism, labor does not. Walls—physical, legal and cultural—aim to keep certain people in and “others” out. In this course we explore the sociological forces behind cross-border labor flows and the parallel reality of immigrant life. We focus specifically on the experience of Latinos in the United States. We pay special attention to the linkages between the demand and supply of Latino immigrant labor, social constructions of (il)legality, and the oft-overlooked privileged lifestyles that immigration supports. While this course has a deep theoretical rooting, we use daily immigrant life as the lens through which to explore migration.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2017

265 Unequal Childhoods: Race, Class and Gender in the United States

(Offered as SOCI 265 and AMST 265) This course explores the ways in which race, class, gender and immigration status shape children’s lives. We begin by conceptualizing childhood as a social construct whose meaning has changed over time and that varies across context; for class privileged individuals, for example, childhood or adolescence may extend into the third decade of life, whereas for “others,” poverty and/or family responsibilities and community struggles may mean it scarcely exists at all. The bulk of the course draws from ethnographic scholarship focused on the relationship between childhood and inequality in key institutional contexts including school, family and the legal system. Through ethnography, we will critically examine the ways in which inequalities among and between groups of children shape their daily life experiences, aspirations and opportunities, and what this means for overall trends of inequality in the United States.

Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

302 Globalization, Inequality and Social Change

(Offered as AMST 302 and SOCI 302) This course is an in-depth exploration of the increasing global interconnectedness of economic, political, and social processes, what many have come to call “globalization.” We begin by developing a sociological critique of the relationship between inequality, post-World War II global capitalism, and the neoliberal ideology that underlies it. We do this through study of the major institutions and actors that endorse and perpetuate global capitalism. We then explore case studies which critically examine how contemporary globalization is playing out in daily life via experiences of labor, consumption, family and community. We dedicate the last part of the course to investigating diverse examples of grassroots resistance to the current capitalist order. As we strive to achieve a complex analysis of globalization, we will be challenged to grapple seriously with issues of power and social justice and to reflect on our own social positions within an increasingly intricate global web. In accordance, we will focus throughout the course on how intersections of race, class, gender and citizenship influence the human experience of globalization.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

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 2019-20. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 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 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019

309 American Housing: Foundations and Futures

The 2007/08 collapse of the U.S. housing market and subsequent global recession transformed the social, economic, and cultural significance of “home” as millions of Americans went into foreclosure, the rate of homeownership plummeted, and emergent minimalist and “Tiny Home” movements garnered widespread appeal. This course considers the “home” as an object in transition and as a concept that shapes our understanding of identity, family, community, and nation. From foundational kinship, feminist, and poststructuralist theorists to more recent ethnographic and popular media texts, we will survey the shifting terrain of American housing form and policy across a range of topics such as redlining and racial segregation, suburbanization and gentrification, homelessness and new directions in cooperative or micro-living. Students will lead classroom discussions, critically analyze texts, meet local housing advocates and builders, and work collaboratively on these themes, culminating in a final project that will attempt to answer the question: how can we solve today’s local, national, and global housing crises?

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Formanack.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

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. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

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.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Himmelstein.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019

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 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professors Holleman and Chowdhury.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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 18 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2017

334 The Social Construction of Whiteness

(Offered as SOCI 334 and BLST 336 [US])  Being “white” is typically treated as a default identity in the United States, yet whiteness remains relatively unexamined as a source of accumulated institutional advantages and cultural entitlements. This course will interrogate prevailing constructions of whiteness, examining its origins as a racial category, its function as group identity and source of individual meaning-making, and its role in reproducing racial hierarchy. Drawing on historical, theoretical, literary, and sociological accounts, our aim will be to contextualize whiteness as a discourse of power.  The course will focus primarily, but not exclusively, on the United States, from the pre-Civil Rights era through the contemporary passage from colorblind to nationalist constructions of whiteness.

Requisite: SOCI 112 or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

337 Dilemmas of Diversity: The Case of Higher Education

In this course, we will focus on the diversification of higher education. We will pay particular attention to efforts made by selective liberal arts colleges and universities to open their doors to students disadvantaged by barriers of racial discrimination and excluded by the means of class privilege. We will critically interrogate the concept of diversity and its implementation, paying attention to both successes and problems. Among these problems is the gap between a diversity promised and a diversity delivered.

We will employ sociological theories and concepts to explore this gap, the dilemmas it presents, and the cultural strategies that have emerged in response to them. Situating contemporary efforts of selective colleges and universities to diversify in historical context, we will pay particular attention to broader transformation of racial and class discourse in the United States in the post civil rights era, including federal efforts to address discrimination, Supreme Court decisions regarding race-based admissions policy, changes in corporate personnel policies, the rise of “colorblind” rhetoric, growing economic inequality, and the expansion of neoliberal policies and practices in higher education today. Drawing on this context, we will assess the strengths and weakness of diversity initiatives that have been put into place, the patterns of cultural change occurring on campuses, and the role social difference can play in constructing alternatives to inclusive communities as we presently envision them.

Students will be encouraged to work collaboratively and will employ a variety of methods to document systematically the current state of diversity on their respective campuses.

Requisite: SOCI 112 or equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Lembo.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

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 2019-20. Professor Holleman.

2019-20: 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 2019-20. Professor Holleman.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

345 Model Minorities: Jewish and Asian Americans

(Offered as AMST 345 and SOCI 345) The United States has long struggled with challenges created by the need to absorb ethnic and racial minorities. In the face of seemingly intractable problems, one solution has been to designate a “model minority,” which then appears to divert attention from the society at large. Earlier in the twentieth century, Jewish Americans played this role; today, Asian Americans are the focus. This course examines specific instances in which Jewish Americans and Asian Americans both embraced and rejected the model minority stereotype. Course units will also examine the underside of the model minority stereotype, quotas imposed to limit access to education and employment as well as social and legal actions taken in response to such restrictions. The course will feature a range of materials, including plays, fiction, journalism, and visual works. Students will read scholarship in the fields of American Studies, Sociology, History, and Critical Race Studies.

Fall semester. Limited to 25 students. McCloy Visiting Professor Odo and Lecturer Bergoffen.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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. Spring Semester. Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course. A full course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
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

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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