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Fall 2010

ANTH 70000 – Current Topics in Anthropology

GC: F, 4:15 - 6:15 p.m., Rm. C415A, 0 cr., Skurski [12281]

ANTH 70100 – Core Course in Cultural Anthropology 1

GC: F, 10:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m., Rm. 6421, 3 cr., Robotham [12282]
Open only to Level 1 Anthropology Students.

ANTH 70300 – History of Anthropological Theory

GC: T, 10:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m., Rm. 6421, 3 credits, Crehan/ Wilder [12284]
Open only to Level 1 Anthropology Students.

ANTH 70500 – Research Methods

GC: F, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Rm. 6421, 3 credits, Bornstein [12286]
Fulfills research methods course requirement.

ANTH. 71200 – The African Diaspora

GC: W, 4:15 - 6:15 p.m., Rm. 8404 , 3 credits, Mullings [12288]
Fulfills area course requirement. Cross listed with IDS 81610 and WSCP 81000.

This seminar incorporates interdisciplinary perspectives to explore culture, community and politics in the African diaspora. Among other topics, the seminar will consider: the multiple meanings of diaspora; capitalism, enslavement and the role of African descended people in the making of the modern world; kinship, gender and community; regimes of racism, politics and resistance; cultural production and practices in the African diaspora. We will reflect on such questions as: How have boundaries, identities and communities been constructed through time and space? How have women intervened in diasporic culture and politics? How has globalization interacted with diasporic formations? How can we theorize the articulation of class, race and gender? What are the competing visions of community and politics? What are the limitations of a diasporic framework? The course takes a cross-cultural perspective and will analyze new social movements among African descended people in various parts of the world, as well as the freedom struggle of African-Americans in the U.S.

ANTH 71600 – Critical Environmental Anthropology

GC: M, 4:15 – 6:15, Rm. 8203, 3 credits, Checker [12290]

How do humans constitute, and how are they constituted by, the natural environment? In turn, how do changing political-economic frameworks (i.e. the logics of neoliberalism or post-socialism) constrain and shape our natural landscapes, on both local and global levels? How do environmental conceptions and understandings vary cross culturally, and across various axes of difference and inequality? And how do such experiences frame environmental actions? This course examines anthropological approaches to understanding human-environment relationships, with an emphasis on political ecology and social justice perspectives. From this premise, we will concentrate on environmental conflicts, conceptualizing them as both material (as in struggles over resources) and discursive (as in struggles over meaning). Focusing mainly on ethnographic research, we will also tease out the multiple disciplines that inform environmental anthropology, including sociology, geography, history and political science. We will examine case studies in the global North and South, across urban, ex-urban and rural settings. The course will be organized around several major topics including conservation, sustainable development, “natural” disasters, environmental and climate justice activism, and climate change adaptation.

ANTH 71800 – Food, Culture and Politics

GC: Th, 6:30 – 8:30, Rm. 6421, 3 cr, Shannon [12291]

“We are what we eat.” We have all heard this truism in one form or another, but we are also how we eat, how we think about what we eat, and how we produce or procure the foods that we eat. In this class we will explore the many dimensions of food in human culture: from its symbolism in the everyday and its association with ritual and the supernatural, to debates about the politics of food and the industrialization of food production in the contemporary world.

Food not only sustains us and gives us life, it infuses our lives with meaning, order, and values. Patterns in the production, distribution, and consumption of food promote social categorizations such as gender, ethnicity, religion, education, race, status, and class. Food plays an important part in the construction of identity, religious beliefs and practices, socialization, and every facet of everyday life. The study of “foodways” (or “foodscapes”) can therefore tell us a lot about the society in which they play a role.

How we produce, distribute, prepare, and consume the food we eat has changed rapidly in recent years. Technological revolutions, industrialization of agricultural production, advertising, and the rapid pace of our lives, among other things, have strongly influenced what, where, when, how, and sometimes even why we eat. Our behaviors and our worldviews – our cultures – have adapted to and created novel situations in which food is produced, distributed, and consumed, along with new symbols and values associated with these activities. How we approach the basic question of what to eat serves as a window through which to view meaning in culture and an index of cultural adaptation to changing natural and social environments.

This course will investigate the interrelationships among food, culture, and politics. It does so in two parts. Part 1 explores food from an anthropological perspective, addressing such topics as food preferences and taboos, food and religion, food and the senses, meals and table manners, and food symbolism. Part 2 explores the political economy of food in industrial societies, with a focus on fast foods, genetically engineered foods, food branding and advertising, hunger and poverty, and food in relation to the flow of time (e.g. “slow foods” versus “fast foods”). The end result will be a richer understanding of the role of food in our everyday experience.

ANTH 73900 Ethnology & Ethnography of the Middle East

GC: M, 11:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m., Rm. 6421, 3 credits, Asad [12292]
Open to Anthropology students only. Fulfills area course requirement.

After an Introductory session on the idea of an anthropology of the Middle East, the first part of this course will deal with some general themes relating to the history and society of the Middle East: religion, law, and politics. We will touch on nineteenth and twentieth century questions as well as on very recent developments. The second part will focus on two ethnographies that deal with aspects of modernization. Emphasis will be placed throughout on reading a limited number of texts in detail, with special attention to modes of analysis and explanation, and the assumptions on which they rest. Supplementary reading will be suggested as we proceed. A useful history to consult is Reinhard Schulze’s A Modern History of the Islamic World.

Photocopies of articles and book chapters (those mentioned below and others to come) will be provided in class. Shadid, Messick, and Hirschkind should be purchased.

Anthony Shadid, The Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats, and the New Politics of Islam Westview, 2002
Örücü, Esin, “The Impact of European Law on the Ottoman Empire and Turkey,” in Mommsen, W.J., and De Moor, J.A., (eds.) European Expansion and Law, Berg, 1992
Hallaq, Wael, A History of Islamic Legal Theories, Cambridge University Press, 1997 (Chapters 5 and 6)

Messick, Brinkley, The Caligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society, California University Press, 1993
Charles Hirschkind, The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics, Columbia University Press, 2006

ANTH 75700 - Archaeology of Europe

H: F, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., Rm. TBA 3 credits, McGovern [12295]
Open to Anthropology students only.

ANTH 77000 - Core Course: Linguistic Anthropology

GC: W, 11:45 a.m. -1:45 p.m., Rm. 6421, 3 credits, Makihara [12307]
Fulfills subfield requirement. Cross listed with LING 79400.

Language is one of the most important resources in the conduct of our social life. Linguistic behavior is the central focus of many social settings, and it is also on linguistic evidence that we base many of our evaluations of the world around us. Yet attitudes toward language and how we use language are highly dependent on social and cultural factors, which also influence how and why language changes. This course is an introduction to linguistic anthropology (the study of the relationship between language and culture and of the use of languages in socio-cultural context). We will examine the nature of language, its role in our social life, and linguistic and anthropological theory and methodology through reading ethnographic and sociolinguistic case studies and discourse analyses. Topics examined include: linguistic and communicative competence, linguistic structure and use, language universals, linguistic relativity, language acquisition and socialization, verbal politeness, the relationship between language change and variation, gender, ethnicity and nationalism, language and political economy, bilingualism, and linguistic ideology.

ANTH 79500 – Primate Phylogeny & Paleobiology

AMNH, TH. 2:00-5:00, 3 cr., Delson [12312]
Open to Anthropology students only.

This course will review the evolution of non-human primates from archontan origins to the present. Early lectures will cover systematics, geochronology and hard-tissue morphology of extant primates. The fossil record will then be surveyed in a systematic order, with several guest lecturers (including Doug Boyer, Al Rosenberger and Terry Harrison, and if we are lucky, Ian Tattersall).

We will try to infer both phylogenetic relationships and locomotor/dietary adaptations from known fossil morphology. Students will be expected to study casts available during the week in the NYCEP room (if possible before the relevant lecture). There will be no required texts. Readings will mainly consist of pdfs from books and journals, which will be made available via a web site or system.

Two background volumes available in the NYCEP room are

  • Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory, 2nd ed; ed. Delson et al., 2000
  • Primate Evolution & Adaptation, ed. 2; J. Fleagle, 1999

American Museum of Natural History, Thursday 2-5. Meet in NYCEP room before 2 PM

ANTH 80500 - Methods Module: Participant Observation and Fieldnotes

GC: Wed 2:00-4:00, 1 cr, Low, Rm. 6421 [12314]
Meets Sept. 2-30. Cross listed with PSYC 80101 and EES 79901.

ANTH 80500 - Methods Module: Alternative/unobtrusive methods

GC: Wed 2:00-4:00, 1 cr, Low, Rm 6421 [12316]
Meets Oct 7-28. Cross listed with PSYC 80101 and EES 79901.

ANTH 80500 - Methods Module: Revising in the field

GC: Wed 2:00-4:00, 1 cr, Low, Rm. 6421 [12318]
Meets Nov. 7-Dec 9. Cross listed with PSYC 80101 and EES 79901.

ANTH 80500 - Methods Module: Archival Methods

GC: TH. 11:45-1:45, 1 cr, Wilder, Rm. 8203 [12338] Meets Sept. 2 – Oct. 7

ANTH 80500 - Methods Module: Network Analysis

GC: TH. 11:45-1:45, 1 cr, Dombrowski, Rm. 8203 [12344] Meets Oct. 14 – Nov. 11

ANTH 80800 – Doctoral Dissertation Writing

GC: F, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., Rm. 6114, 0 cr., Skurski [12345]
Open only to Level 3 Anthropology students.

ANTH 80900 – Philosophical Themes in the Anthropology of Religion

GC: W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Rm. 5383, 3 cr., Crapanzano [12346]
Cross listed with Comp. Lit. 85500

This relationship between religion and philosophy, like the relationship between religion and science, has been the source of very considerable epistemological disquiet. This seminar will consider some of the principal themes in the anthropology of religion from a philosophical and literary perspective. We will be concerned, for example, with the relationship between religious experience and the sublime; the nature of belief and belief statements; illusion and “reality”; religious symbolism and language; magic, ritual, and performativity; sacrifice; trance and possession; moral and spiritual transformation; taboo, transgression, and the law; shamanism, ecstasy, and creativity; contingency, destiny, and witchcraft; fundamentalism; secularism; postmodernism, negative theology, and iconoclasm; death, the afterlife, and apocalypse. Reading will include -- but are not limited to -- selections from William James, Rudolph Otto, Kant, Rodney Needham, Durkheim, Freud, Stanley Tambiah, J.L. Austin, Rene Girard; Euripides, Lienhardt, Obeyesekere, Niezsche, Caillois, Bataille, Taussig, Evans-Pritchard, Meyer Fortes, Victor Turner, Jean and John Comaroff, and Derrida. In consultation with the instructor, students will be required to write a short essay on an ethnography or relevant work of literature and a research paper. They will also be required to present one or more of the assigned readings to the class.

ANTH 81400 - The Politics of Desire in Latin America

GC: TH. 3:00-6:00 pm, RM. 5383, 3 cr, Coronil [12347]
Instructor’s permission and reading knowledge of Spanish required. Fulfills area course requirement.

We are announcing a new course for the Fall of 2010, co-taught by three professors through the consortium -– one at Cuny, one at NYU, one at Columbia- and supported by a grant from ILAS, Columbia, CLACS, NYU. You have to register with permission of the instructor in the university through the university in which you study. If you want to register for it you have to obtain permission form the instructor. For students at NYU please contact professor Mary Louise Pratt, For students at Columbia University please contact Professor Ana Maria Ochoa, For students at CUNY, please contact Fernando Coronil at There is limited space.

The Politics of Desire:
Thinking the Present Through Latin America
Thrusdays 3.10 – 6 pm

Ana María Ochoa (Columbia, Music-CSER)
Mary Louise Pratt (NYU, Spanish and Portuguese, Social and Cultural Analysis)
Fernando Coronil (CUNY,Anthropology)

This interdisciplinary course explores the politics of desire in Latin America during turbulent times characterized by a proliferation of politics that promise change in contexts that resist it. Taking "desire" as an open domain that brings together the affective and the rational, the personal and the public, the present and the future, this seminar will explore the construction of what people want, what they imagine as good, what they strive for, through the fields of literature, music and politics.

The course is divided into three main parts, each of which is coordinated by one of the professors but to which the other two professors also contribute: 1. the politics of desire as mediated through the state; 2. the politics of desire as mediated through literature and film; 3. The politics of desire as mediated by music.

The course will be simultaneously announced at NYU, CUNY and Columbia, programmed at the same time in all campuses. Four classes will be taught in each of the campuses. All professors are present at all classes and contribute to all of them. Students register through their home institution. Introductory and concluding classes will be taught in locations to be determined.

Enrollment is by permission of the instructor (For CUNY students: write 100-150 words or so giving basic information about yourself and indicating why you want to take this course and send to

ANTH 81700 - Geographic Thought and Theory

GC: T, 4:15 - 6:15 p.m., Rm.6107, 3 credits, Harvey [12348]
Cross listed with EES 70900

ANTH. 81800 - Reading Marx's Capital, Vol. 2

GC: M, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Rm. 6107, 3 credits, Harvey [12349]
Cross listed with EES 79903

ANTH. 82000 – History of Geography

GC: T, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Rm. 5383, 3 credits, Smith [12350]
Cross listed with EES 79903 and ASCP 81500

ANTH 83900 - Historical Archaeology

GC: W. 2 – 4 PM, Rm. 4483, 3 cr., Moore/Wall, [12351]

Historical Archaeology takes up the agenda of Historical Anthropology using the techniques and methods of archaeology. The core of this agenda is to understand how the social system of the modern world came into being. This analysis proceeds with the understanding that human populations construct their culture in interaction with one another, not in isolation (Wolf 1982). The focus of study is culture change at the local level within the wider context of the development of the modern world. With this in mind, a series of themes emerge which cut across the familiar, but fluid, grid of class, ethnicity, race, and gender: the creation and demise of nation-states, the materiality of both European conquest and the indigene responses to that conquest, the shifting regimes of consumption, and attempts to control lives of laborers on the part of both the dominant culture as well as by the laborers themselves. Finally, the production of cultural heritage is situated in a world of contested, failing and failed nation-states to problematize the practice of non-reflexive historical archaeology.

ANTH 84700 – The Ancient Maya

GC: W 4:15-6:15 pm, Rm. 3308, 3cr, Pugh [13184]
Cross listed with Art Hist 87000

This course will introduce students to the major cultural developments in the Maya region from the arrival of indigenous peoples up to their conquest by the Spaniards in the 16th century (and later in some areas). We will begin by considering general characteristics of the Maya region. Next, we will discuss Maya religion, time, calendars, writing, and society. After considering these general characteristics, the course considers the initial development of complex societies in the Maya area with consideration of influence from the Olmec and Mixteca-Puebla regions. Students will then follow the Maya into the Classic period with discussions of major cities such as Tikal, Copan, Palenque, Calakmul, Seibal, Uxmal, and Chich’en Itzá. The contributions of Teotihuacan will be considered as well. After the “collapse,” students will investigate Postclassic settlements such as Mayapán, Tulum, and Zacpetén, with some discussion of interactions with Central Mexico. Finally, we will discuss the arrival of the Spaniards, the conquest, and the beginnings of colonialism.

ANTH 89000 - Seminar in Physical Anthropology

GC: F, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., Rm. 6496, 0 credits, Delson
NOTE: NYCEP seminar; students attend but do not register for credit this semester.