Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

 

Course Number: ANTH 101 A

CRN Number: 90194

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Yuka Suzuki

 

Schedule/Location:

 Tue  Thurs    10:10 AM11:30 AM Olin 201

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Global & International Studies

Anthropology is the study of ‘culture,’ a concept that has been redefined and contested over the discipline’s long development. The term ‘culture’ opens up major questions. What, if anything, does it mean to be human? How does our language shape what we can and can’t see in the world? When does difference create conflict and when does difference inspire gift-giving? This course will trace the history of the culture concept from the nineteenth century to the present. In doing so, it will explore anthropological approaches to human groups, collective rituals, personal symbols, and systems of exchange. It will examine how anthropology came to focus on questions of identity, race, gender, labor, sexuality, nationalism, and (post-)colonial power. Our ethnographic gaze will be turned inward as well as outward. We will therefore consider the reasons behind, and ramifications of, anthropology’s self-reflexive turn in and around the 1980s. We will enter debates about anthropologists’ engagement in activism and policy. We will then examine the more recent anthropological fascination with the non-human (e.g. other animals, technology, the built environment, ‘nature’), looking at how notions of selfhood, materiality, and anthropology’s own methodological foundations have been transformed as a result.

 

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

 

Course Number: ANTH 101 B

CRN Number: 90195

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Yuka Suzuki

 

Schedule/Location:

 Tue  Thurs    11:50 AM1:10 PM Olin 201

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Global & International Studies

Anthropology is the study of ‘culture,’ a concept that has been redefined and contested over the discipline’s long development. The term ‘culture’ opens up major questions. What, if anything, does it mean to be human? How does our language shape what we can and can’t see in the world? When does difference create conflict and when does difference inspire gift-giving? This course will trace the history of the culture concept from the nineteenth century to the present. In doing so, it will explore anthropological approaches to human groups, collective rituals, personal symbols, and systems of exchange. It will examine how anthropology came to focus on questions of identity, race, gender, labor, sexuality, nationalism, and (post-)colonial power. Our ethnographic gaze will be turned inward as well as outward. We will therefore consider the reasons behind, and ramifications of, anthropology’s self-reflexive turn in and around the 1980s. We will enter debates about anthropologists’ engagement in activism and policy. We will then examine the more recent anthropological fascination with the non-human (e.g. other animals, technology, the built environment, ‘nature’), looking at how notions of selfhood, materiality, and anthropology’s own methodological foundations have been transformed as a result.

 

Ancient Indigenous Peoples before the Bard Lands: Archaeological Methods and Theory

 

Course Number: ANTH 211

CRN Number: 90197

Class cap: 12

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Christopher Lindner

 

Schedule/Location:

Lab:

Thurs    3:30 PM4:50 PM Olin 302

Fri   1:30 PM4:30 PM Rose Laboratories 108

 

Distributional Area:

LS Laboratory Science  

 

Crosslists: American Studies; Environmental & Urban Studies

Excavations at the 2,300-year-old Forest site, between the Admissions Office and the Bard baseball field, while unearthing purposefully chipped stone in abundance, have their focus on discovery of evidence indicating ceremonies for protection and healing: pottery with potential ritual usages, exotic translucent flint, clear quartz crystals, and a shelter for ancient pilgrims. Contextual scales range from broadly regional, thru riverine reaches, to the Tivoli embayment and an anonymous rivulet with cascades and meanders, a promontory with fire pits, to microscopic traces on artifacts & invisible chemical soil compositions. Through readings we’ll explore far-flung connections to earthworks in southern Ohio of two millennia ago and Indigenous travel from celestial observatories there to the tidal Hudson Valley with its flinty mountains & underwater monsters [Atlantic sturgeon]. Our seminar discussions will consider efforts to gain UNESCO World Heritage status for several of the Ohio burial complexes. Our field methods include basic excavation and replicative experimentation. We share our learning experiences with descendants of ancient peoples, the Munsee Mohican nation, through interactive cartography.

 

The Rift and the Nile

 

Course Number: ANTH 218

CRN Number: 90601

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

John Ryle

 

Schedule/Location:

Mon   Wed    11:50 AM – 1:10 PM Olin 107

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Africana Studies; Environmental and Urban Studies; Historical Studies; Human Rights

The Great Rift Valley runs through Eastern Africa to the Red Sea, dividing the African continent in two. The River Nile – one of the world’s longest rivers – rises in Eastern Africa and runs through the region for most of its course. The Rift and the Nile between them transect a region of spectacular ecological and cultural diversity, embracing modes of human existence that range from pastoral nomadism to modern urbanism, spanning the whole of human history: fossil evidence indicates that the emergence of modern humans took place in the Rift approximately 200,000 years ago. In the present day, following waves of globalisation, the lands of the Rift Valley and the Nile Basin have come to exemplify the difficulties that confront much of modern Africa. These include the legacy of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle, civil war, the unrestrained exploitation of natural resources, population pressure, and accelerating environmental change - processes that have led to growing levels of urbanization, displacement and forced migration. The response of the peoples of the region demonstrates the inventiveness of human adaptation and the drama of survival. The course offers an interdisciplinary approach to the layers of natural and human history in the region, deploying scholarly research, reportage, music and documentary video to examine the diverse ways of being that endure, and new versions of modernity emerging from economic and demographic transformation in the era of globalisation. The issues are addressed through a set of questions and case studies: How do communities in different places relate to the natural environment? How have they created and understood wealth? How have successive systems of governance emerged from earlier forms of social organisation?

 

State Phobia: Theories and Ethnographies of Statehood Today

 

Course Number: ANTH 221

CRN Number: 90198

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins

 

Schedule/Location:

 Tue  Thurs    1:30 PM2:50 PM Olin 204

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Global & International Studies; Human Rights; Middle Eastern Studies

How does the state as a modern political form shape culture, and vice versa?  Why do groups (e.g. queer, indigenous, religious, ethnic) seek recognition from this thing we call the state while at the same time mocking, being suspicious or fearful of it? Like many groups, scholarship about the modern state tends to be shot through with “state phobia.” However, the most recent elections in the United States are challenging suspicions of the state as a set of institutions among many of the regime’s critics. Anthropological analysis of the state could not be more urgent. The first half of this course explores how scholars define the modern state and how they critique its effects on societies and cultures in the twentieth century. We begin with foundational theories of the state (e.g. Weber, Hall, Althusser, Foucault, and Bourdieu). Due to his major influence on anthropological work on neoliberalism, immigration, bureaucracy, state healthcare and social welfare, we place special emphasis on how Michel Foucault conceptualized the modern state and his critique of its attendant modes of power (e.g. discipline, governmentality, biopolitics). During the second half of the course we read ethnographies of the state in the United States, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Togo, Gaza, France, Cameroon, India, Egypt, Turkey and Germany. We investigate the unlikely relationships between phenomena  such as corruption, borders, railroads, time, insanity, sexuality, warrior honeybees  and science, on the one hand, and the effects, and meanings, of statehood and state-making in the modern world, on the other.  How do institutions, practices and people come to appear like a state in the first place? We conclude with an examination of a question inspired by the recent political mobilizations of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. In what ways does it make sense -and in what ways does it not-to call the U.S. a “police state”?

 

Anthropology of Religion

 

Course Number: ANTH 238

CRN Number: 90199

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Naoko Kumada

 

Schedule/Location:

Mon  Wed     3:30 PM4:50 PM Olin 204

 

Distributional Area:

MBV Meaning, Being, Value  

 

Crosslists: Asian Studies; Study of Religions

Anthropologists have been provoked by the phenomenon of religion from the very beginnings of the discipline. Some of the formative ideas and approaches of the discipline have emerged from this engagement. From an early interest in what the religious practice of ‘primitive’ societies might reveal about the origin of society and the constitution of human thought, to accounts of the continuing vitality of religion in often unexpected contemporary contexts, to the ways in which religious practice, rhetoric, and symbolism articulate gender and power, hierarchy and class, the anthropological study of religion offers a trove of data and insight. In this introductory survey we will look at how successive generations of anthropologists have studied and theorized practices such as ritual and sacrifice, magic and witchcraft, gift and exchange as observed in social formations from hunter-gatherer societies to the modern state, from ‘animism’ to ‘world-religions.’ As we do so we will learn to think anew about such questions as the relationship between the religious, the spiritual, and the secular and about the enduring power of practices and concepts birthed in ‘religion.’

 

Anthropology of Violence and Suffering

 

Course Number: ANTH 261

CRN Number: 90559

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Laura Kunreuther

 

Schedule/Location:

 Tue Thurs    10:10 AM – 11:30 AM OSUN

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Asian Studies; Global and international Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Human Rights; Science Technology and Society

Why do acts of violence continue to grow in the ‘modern’ world?  In what ways has violence become naturalized in the contemporary world?  In this course, we will consider how acts of violence challenge and support modern ideas of humanity, raising important questions about what it means to be human today.  These questions lie at the heart of anthropological thinking and also structure contemporary discussions of human rights.  Anthropology’s commitment to “local culture”  and cultural diversity has meant that anthropologists often position themselves in critical opposition to “universal values,” which have been used to address various forms of violence in the contemporary world. The course will approach different forms of violence, including ethnic and communal conflicts, colonial history, war, torture and its individualizing effects, acts of terror and institutionalized fear, and rituals of bodily pain that mark individuals’ inclusion or exclusion from a social group.  The course is organized around three central concerns.  First, we will discuss violence in its structural and everyday forms that becomes a means of producing and consolidating social and political power.  Second, we will look at forms of violence that have generated questions about “universal rights” of humanity versus culturally specific practices. Finally, we will look at the ways human rights institutions have sought to address the profundity of human suffering and pain, and ask in what ways have they succeeded and/or failed.  Students will be given the opportunity to reflect on how recent events might be thought about through an anthropological perspective on violence and suffering.  In addition to fulfilling one of the 200-level anthropology requirements, this course is a Human Rights core class for the Human Rights major and fulfills one of the requirements for the forthcoming Human Rights certificates. This is an OSUN class and is open to Bard students as well as students from multiple OSUN partner institutions.

 

The Interview

 

Course Number: ANTH 278

CRN Number: 91056

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

John Ryle

 

Schedule/Location:

Mon   Wed    5:10 PM – 6:30 PM Hegeman 308

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis

 

Crosslists: Africana Studies; Human Rights; Written Arts

The interview – a structured conversation – is central to the practice of a wide range of disciplines and genres, including ethnographic field work, oral history, human rights research, documentary film, podcasts, long-form journalism and creative non-fiction. Interview-based research thus contributes to  the understanding of culture, and to diverse narratives including life writing, witness statements and confessional literature. The course combines critiques of published material with training in technical interviewing skills. It addresses the transition from speech to writing and the enduring authority of the human voice. Classwork will include field exercises in interviewing, recording, transcription and editing, and individual interview-based term projects. Class members will have the opportunity to work on projects in remote collaboration with fellow-students in Eastern Africa, under the aegis of the Open Society University Network’s Refugee Education Program.

 

Japan as Empire

 

Course Number: ANTH 293

CRN Number: 90202

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Naoko Kumada

 

Schedule/Location:

 Tue  Thurs    3:30 PM4:50 PM Olin 202

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Asian Studies; Historical Studies

The Japanese Empire was at its height one of the largest in history. Its legacy shaped and continues to trouble both Japan and former colonial territories in North and Southeast Asia politically and culturally. This course will explore how an ‘Asian’ state, the Empire of Japan, colonially subjugated other Asian peoples, as it resisted and imitated the Great Powers, and proffered liberation from white colonial rule while imposing its own. It will also examine what empire did to Japanese society and culture as Japan ‘exited Asia, entered Europe’ and became ‘Western’ in different ways before and after the Pacific War. Thinking about ‘decolonization’ through this unfamiliar lens allows us to see how ideas constitutive of colonialism such as western concepts of statehood, nationalism, ‘religion’ (based on Christianity), scientific racism, and cultural hierarchy traveled and were translated into Japanese state formation and modernization in ways that continue to call for ‘decolonizing’ today. It will be an opportunity to examine how practices of empire were circulated and translated, and how they remain active in a contemporary popular culture that has circulated across Asia and back to the West. The topics will include: colonialism, construction of race and the other, establishment of a new nation-state, war, militarism, religious nationalism, cult of the Emperor, and Japanese popular culture.

 

Middle Eastern Mobilities

 

Course Number: ANTH 297

CRN Number: 90196

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Jeff Jurgens

 

Schedule/Location:

Mon  Wed     10:10 AM11:30 AM Olin 304

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis  D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Global & International Studies; Human Rights; Middle Eastern Studies

Scholars of migration have often viewed the Middle East as a “sending” region from which people depart in order to settle in other parts of the world, including the US and Europe. While this diasporic perspective certainly has its virtues, it has sometimes diverted attention from the ways that people circulate within the Middle East itself. Moreover, it has tended to neglect the region’s growing significance as a “destination” in its own right for migrants, refugees, and other travelers from South and East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Drawing on recent scholarship in anthropology, history, and related fields, this course takes a somewhat different approach: it examines how varied Middle Eastern mobilities, in both the past and present, have reconfigured discourses and practices of labor, class, citizenship, ethnonational belonging, religiosity, and humanitarian assistance within and across the region’s nation-states. It also delves into the ways that migratory aspirations and projects have inflected everyday Middle Eastern life in the more intimate domains of gender, sexuality, intergenerational family relations, and the imagining of possible futures. In the end, this course aims to move (however partially) beyond a Euro-Atlantic frame of reference, even as it acknowledges the ways that the contemporary Middle East has been powerfully shaped by European and American imperial interventions.

 

Anthropologies of Men and Gender

 

Course Number: ANTH 298

CRN Number: 90693

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Andrew Bush

 

Schedule/Location:

Tue  Thurs     11:50 AM – 1:10 PM Hegeman 106

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis  

 

Crosslists: Gender and Sexuality Studies; Human Rights; Middle Eastern Studies

If men’s subjectivity is often universalized as pure subjectivity, what is the use of examining men’s subjectivity in particular contexts? This course surveys some of the most recent concepts and methods in gender studies and anthropology for the study of men, manhood, and masculinity. We explore how notions of authority, dominance, hegemony work alongside ideas of nurturing, vulnerability, and dependency to constitute particular social milieux for cis-gendered men and trans men who share worlds with women, hijras, and others. Course material will move across different contexts with special emphasis on the Middle East and South Asia as we read work on topics including humor, marriage, fatherhood, film, nationalism, and disability. For students of gender studies, why has manhood been so difficult to think? What attracts or repels sustained inquiry on men—and why?

Queer Theories, Familiar Families

 

Course Number: ANTH 299

CRN Number: 90694

Class cap: 22

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Andrew Bush

 

Schedule/Location:

Tue  Thurs     5:10 PM – 6:30 PM Olin 205

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis  

 

Crosslists: American Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies

This course considers queer theory as an analytic framework for understanding not only “non-normative” gender and sexual identities, but also how norms work across all kinds of social relations. We focus on “familiar” kinship formations, e.g., the heteronormative nuclear family, as a forum for relations where queer tendencies are always already emerging. After an introduction to the queer analytic in anthropology, the course turns first to ethnographic work on queer kinship that explores how heteronormative values weave in and out of gay marriage in the United States, then to studies of family law in Lebanon, and finally public religious discourse in Pakistan. What are the senses of “queer” beyond gender or sexual identity? In addition to a critique of their normative powers, what light does queer theory shine on apparently familiar formations of family and kinship?

 

Contemporary Cultural Theory

 

Course Number: ANTH 350

CRN Number: 90204

Class cap: 15

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins

 

Schedule/Location:

    Fri   12:30 PM2:50 PM Olin 101

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis D+J Difference and Justice

 

Crosslists: Human Rights

This course is intended as an introduction to advanced theories of culture in contemporary anthropology. In contrast to early anthropological focus on seemingly isolated, holistic socieities, more recent studies have turned their attention to the intersection of local systems of meaning with global processes of politics, economics and history. This course will be designed around influential theorists, including Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, Judith Butler, Pierre Bourdieu, Michael Taussig, Arjun Appadurai, and Eduardo Kohn. The seminar will involve guest presentations from several faculty in the anthropology program on their research. The course aims to inspire critical engagement with an eye towards developing theoretical tools and questions for the senior project. This is a D&J-designated course because it examines how power works in the production of history, gender, language, global economies, and definitions of the nonhuman. Required and open only for moderated anthropology students, or by permission of instructor.

 

Speech Acts and Ethnography

 

Course Number: ANTH 372

CRN Number: 90695

Class cap: 15

Credits: 4

 

Professor:

Andrew Bush

 

Schedule/Location:

Mon     1:30 PM – 3:50 PM Hegeman 204

 

Distributional Area:

SA Social Analysis  

 

Crosslists: Philosophy

The idea that human speech does not merely describe the world but alters or makes the world by doing something in it has been associated with the philosopher J.L. Austin. This course explores how anthropologists have absorbed, extended, and experimented with concepts like the speech act. From the linguistic study of interpersonal interaction to the broad sweep of political change across decades, the idea of the speech act has been a generative touch point for anthropologists studying questions of poverty, ethics, law, and affect in different social contexts. Combining a close study of Austin’s work with a reading of its diverging lives in anthropology, this course offers a case study of how a philosophical idea might be taken up in anthropology, and also how ethnography might give back to philosophy.