Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies; Global & Int’l Studies; Related interest: Gender and Sexuality Studies. This course explores the intellectual angles through which anthropologists have engaged culture as a central, and yet elusive concept in understanding how societies work. The analysis of culture has undergone many transformations over the past century, from arguing for the existence of integrated systems of thought and practice among so-called ‘primitives,’ to scrutinizing the cultural values of colonial subjects, to attempting to decipher the anatomy of enemy minds during World War II. In recent years, anthropology has become more self-reflexive, questioning the discipline’s authority to represent other societies, and critiquing its participation in the creation of exoticized others. With our ethnographic gaze turned inward as well as outward, we will combine discussions, lectures, and films to reflect upon the construction of social identity, power, and difference in a world where cultures are undergoing rapid reification. Specific topics we will examine include the transformative roles of ritual and symbol; witchcraft and sorcery in historical and contemporary contexts; cultural constructions of gender and sexuality; and nationalism and the making of majorities and minorities in post-colonial states.
Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies. Weekly 5 hours of field work in the woods at the Spicebush prehistoric site, at the edge of Tivoli South Bay of the Hudson River. The excavation of this 1,300-year-old campsite uses documentation protocols and careful application of digging techniques by each of the students in their test trenches. We make maps and cross-sectional drawings for each trench, in our search for prehistoric activity areas. On-going analysis includes counting and weighing of artifacts, plus calculation and depiction of their frequencies per excavated volume in histograms, to enable contrast of deposits vertically in a given trench and horizontally across the site area grid. Such analysis also takes place in 2 or 3 sessions indoors, during inclement weather, along with replicative experimentation in the manufacture and function of prehistoric stone tools by description of use-wear traces. Students are responsible for written synthesis of their individual excavation results, as partial assessment of the whole site area, and comparison to similar areas of relevant sites in the archaeological record of the northeastern woodlands. Course limit is 12 participants, with enrollment by permission of instructor.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, EUS, GIS. An Introduction to Western representations of Africa from the pre-colonial period to the present, juxtaposed to representations by Africans. Stereotypes and prejudices will be highlighted. Readings will include early traveler accounts, ethnographic / anthropological studies, novels, and political writings.
Cross-listed: Anthropology. Ethnomusicology encompasses the study of music-making throughout the world, from the distant past to the present. Ethnomusicologists examine music as central to human experience throughout space and time, and explore its profound relationship to cognition, emotion, language, dance, visual arts, spiritual belief, social organization, collective identity, politics, economics, and the physical body. Students will study the performing arts as culture. This course will introduce students to the history, theories, and methodologies of the field of ethnomusicology through weekly readings and multi-media. It will also be a project-based seminar, driven by student’s individual ethnographic projects and themes.
Cross-listed: Gender & Sexuality Studies, Human Rights, LAIS. Recent achievements in democratization notwithstanding, contemporary Latin American societies continue to display dramatic inequalities. This class will explore inequalities of gender, and their interface with hierarchies of social class, ethnicity and race through examination of ethnographic texts. We will examine historical sources of these inequalities in colonial structures and their expression in contemporary cultural practices, giving attention both to social groups that seek to impose and maintain inequalities, and those who challenge them. After critically evaluating Latin American gender stereotypes, we will consider how gender is practiced and gender identities formed in particular local and global contexts. We will investigate urban elites and middle classes, and a variety of subaltern populations ranging from market women, to male factory workers, to groups struggling for indigenous rights, to transgendered prostitutes. Ritual contexts to be explored will include beauty contests, Carnival, and soccer, and Catholic, Protestant evangelical and Afro-Brazilian religious practices. Texts will be drawn from Latin American societies including Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala, and will be chosen to represent a variety of theoretical approaches within anthropology.
Cross-Listed: Asian Studies, GIS, History, Victorian Studies. This course will examine contemporary theories of colonialism and the cultural categories that emerged and changed through the colonial experience. No other colony was more prized or the object of more fantasy than India, “The Jewel in the Crown.” While the course focuses primarily on British rule in India, we will frame this particular case within broader perspectives of colonialism, including Edward Said's analysis of Orientalism, critical responses to it, and the ideology of liberalism that underwrote the colonial project. A central premise of the course is that the experience of colonialism was shared by both colonizer and colonized. Imperialism did not only profoundly change the cultures of the Indian subcontinent but also the British people themselves – both those who were first-hand participants (soldiers, administrators, entrepreneurs, etc.) and those citizens who never left Britain. We will discuss political movements, like nationalism, feminism, and liberalism, not as a discourse that originated in the metropole and was exported to the colonies, but rather a key aspect of the colonial encounter in both places. The focus of our discussion of imperial politics and practices will be on the role of ‘culture’ as a central discourse that emerged at this same time. Thomas Metcalf’s Ideologies of the Raj’ will serve as our base text to examine the dominant social ideologies that were central to the British India. We will discuss, for example, the English ‘gentleman’ and ‘memsab’, as well as the Indian ‘babu’ and ‘fakir’, as key figures in the colonial imagination and symbolic of broader social distinctions like race, gender and sexuality. We will discuss cultural practices, like the Victorian grand tour, the rise of technologies like photography and the railroad, scientific discourses of race, as well as key literary figures like Rudyard Kipling and Rabindranath Tagore, all of which helped shape the categories we use to describe South Asia today.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, Victorian Studies. Confronted by their sudden control of much of the world, Europeans and Americans in the nineteenth century sought to both know and understand the subordinated and exotic "other." Anthropology developed in the nineteenth century primarily to provide such an understanding. This course will explore how the Victorians sought to know the "other" through ethnographic, missionary, government and travel encounters, through the science of race, through the objects of archaeology and museum collections, and through photography. How the "other" was then related to the Europeans will be examined within the framework of evolutionary and diffusionary theories.
Cross-listed: American Studies. American anthropology to the Second World War had three central concerns: (1) the description and understanding of Native American peoples based on participant observation through residential fieldwork. This concern began in the early nineteenth century, and was mainly directed from the Smithsonian Institution. This research focus was carried on in the twentieth century by the European-influenced Boasian school of anthropology, centered at Columbia University, which was also responsible for the modernization of anthropology, and the efforts of American anthropology to (2) defeat scientific racism, and (3) to place the concept of culture at the center of anthropological thought. This course examines this history, in the Boasian centenary year, as well as the rise of sociological, psychological and neomarxist evolutionist thought in American anthropology in this period. Works by such anthropologists as Frank Cushing, James Mooney, Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Robert Lowie, Alfred Kroeber, Paul Radin, Melville Herskovits, Robert Redfield, Clyde Kluckhohn, Leslie White and Julian Steward will be read and discussed.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies. A distinctly British social anthropology formed in the twentieth century, largely shaped by research in Britain’s African colonies. This anthropology contributed to the construction of colonial relations with African peoples, constituted our knowledge of pre-colonial African cultures, and provided critiques of colonialism. Both the colonial system and the nationalist movements that destroyed that system were influenced by this anthropology. The course will examine central texts of this school, especially as they explore politics, broadly understood, from colonial and post-colonial Africa, rural and urban, rule and resistance, modernizing and post-modern.
Cross-listed: American Studies, Environmental & Urban Studies. Fall 2013 will be the 3rd season of excavation at the 6,000-year-old Forest site after its discovery in Spring 2012 and the expansion of testing last semester. Two hearths or fireplaces were initially found that could become the focus of a senior project in paleoethnobotany. Each introductory student concentrates on the location of another activity area for the manufacture and use of stone tools. Their utilization can be identified in the lab by replicative experimentation and microscopic analysis of wear patterns. Knowledge of this key early millennium in our region is sparse. The goal of this season’s practicum is an exhibit and its implementation to enhance awareness of preservation issues in the Bard community that includes Native Americans, students of various ages, and local citizenry. The skills, technical and conceptual, that Bardians learn in the course equip them for participation in the field of Cultural Resource Management. The class will meet on Wednesdays for discussion of background texts on CRM, archaeological sites at Bard, and the Lenape [“people” in their language]. Field and lab work will take place on Fridays and Saturday afternoons. Enrollment 12, by interview with the professor.
Cross-listed: American Studies, Environmental & Urban Studies. The focus of this practicum, or civic engagement course, will be the 18th-century Palatine German occupation of the Hudson Valley, people ancestral to the Pennsylvania “Dutch” [Deutsch]. 5-hr sessions on Friday afternoons include field trips to related historical sites at or near Bard, discussion on written and graphical materials, laboratory work on artifacts. After spring break comes excavation and analysis of discoveries in Germantown, 10 miles north of Bard. We aim to learn how the local populations adapted after the 1710 arrival of Palatines from the Rhineland, the largest mass migration from Europe to New York in colonial times.
Cross-listed: Gender & Sexuality Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Human Rights, Science Technology & Society. From an ethnomedical perspective, all notions of health and illness and forms of treatment are taken as socioculturally constructed, embedded within global systems of knowledge and power and hierarchies of gender, class and race. This course will explore medical knowledge and practice in a variety of healing systems including that of western biomedicine, focusing on the human body as the site where illness is experienced, and upon which social meanings and political actions are inscribed. We will be concerned with how political economic systems, and the inequalities they engender--poverty, violence, discrimination--affect human well-being. Readings and films will represent different ethnographic perspectives on embodied experiences of illness and bodily imagery and treatment within widely differing sociopolitical systems. Topics will include biomedical constructs and body imagery, non-biomedical illnesses and healing systems including those in contemporary American society, the shaping of epidemic diseases such as malaria, TB and AIDS, colonial and post-colonial constructions of diseased bodies, cosmetic medical interventions, and new medical technologies.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Human Rights. Africa’s Rift Valley runs from the Red Sea to Mozambique, dividing the continent in two. The countries bordering it, rich in natural and cultural resources, but deficient in good government, embody many of the challenges that confront Africa as a whole. This course begins with a survey of the human geography and political history of Eastern Africa from the colonial era to the present. This is followed by an examination, through case studies, of some urgent themes in African studies, as represented in the region. The themes include: the nature of the state, revealed by civil wars in Sudan and new states emerging in Eritrea, Somaliland and Southern Sudan; and the effect on the societies they encompass– the passage from pastoral nomadism to the seat at the UN. The course also considers the complex relations between Islam, Christianity and local belief systems in Ethiopia and Sudan; and the role of Western countries in the region, from the colonial era to the age of humanitarian intervention and counter-terrorism. The course will use the tools of history and anthropology, documentary video and reportage to build an understanding of the diverse ways of being that endure in the region and the varieties of modernity that are emerging from war and demographic transformation.
Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Political Studies, Science Technology & Society. In four broad phases this course seeks to explore the following questions: 1) What is a state? 2) Whose is the state? 3) How are states built? 4) Where is the state? We will draw on ethnographically- and historically-based research in places like the United States, India, South Africa, Turkey, France, Syria, Indonesia, England, Mozambique, Gaza, Venezuela, Nigeria and Iraq. In conjunction with reading foundational theoretical texts from the broader social sciences (e.g. Althusser, Hall, Abrams, Foucault, Weber, Bourdieu, Harvey), reading cases from these places will allow us to investigate the unlikely relationships between phenomena such as corruption, railroads, the standardization of time, nuclear power, bureaucracies, forest fires and scientists, on the one hand, and the effects, and effectiveness, of statehood in the modern world, on the other. Our journey will be genealogical as much as it will be theoretical. Therefore, we will pay close attention to the historical coproduction of colonizing states, colonies and nationalisms as well as to the role of statehood, state-building and state aspirations in shaping the postcolonial condition. At the same time, we will assume that material or environmental conditions, scientific practices and technologies are sociotechnical objects (per Latour) that, similarly, must be scrutinized for the extent to which they afford, or are manipulated by, forces we usually think of as exclusively political, economic, cultural or social.
Cross-listed: History, LAIS. This is an interdisciplinary course in anthropology and history on the two largest countries in Latin America, Brazil and Mexico. It studies culture, broadly defined, with readings drawn from some of the major anthropological and historical writings on these two countries from the early twentieth century to the present. Each period of twentieth-century Brazil and Mexico will be studied. The French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss played a foundational role in the development of Brazilian anthropology, and students of the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas established anthropology as a discipline in both Brazil and Mexico. The class examines the scholarship of these and later anthropologists and historians, and problematizes the ethnography and textual production of scholars with distinct relationships to the cultures in question as well as from different gendered and ethnic backgrounds. Topics for study and discussion include: the indigenous community, cultural results of slavery and ethnic mixture, the family and the nation, violence and death, and religious ritual and the sacred, such as in the case of Afro-Brazilian Candomblé.
Cross-listed: Global & Int’l Studies, Human Rights. This course approaches a set of practical and ethical human rights issues through the study of historical and contemporary campaigns, starting with the British anti-slavery movement of the 18th and 19th centuries. The emphasis is on practical questions of strategy and organization and the problems that arise from these. What were the challenges that early campaigners faced? How did they resolve them? What alliances of interest did they confront? And what coalitions did they form to combat them? The course also considers how human rights campaigners have engaged with - and been part of - wider political, religious and economic changes. It examines the negotiations and compromises that led to a key event in the twentieth-century human rights history: the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Has the subsequent success of the human rights movement - particularly the expansion of international human rights legislation - changed its character? The course examines the landmine ban campaign, the campaign against female genital cutting and the campaign against child soldiers - and considers the ideological challenges these issues present to the international human rights regime. When, if ever, are indigenous values more important than universal principles? What is the relation of human rights to religious values? Is human rights itself a quasi-religious belief system? Finally the course considers some contemporary challenges facing the human rights movement: the return of slavery and slave-like practices and the question of genocide in Darfur, in particular the role of the International Criminal Court.
Cross-listed: Mind, Brain & Behavior. Language is one of the fundamental ways of understanding the world in culturally specific ways, and helps to create social identities like gender, race, ethnicity, class and nationality. This course begins with the assumption that language and culture are inseparable, and will introduce students to theoretical and ethnographic approaches that demonstrate this in various ways. The course will include close analysis of everyday conversations as well as social analysis of broader discourses related to class, gender and nationality. Some of the topics we will discuss include: how authority is established through specific forms of speech, language ideologies, the performative power of language, the relationship between language and social hierarchies, the study of genre and discourse as historical and social forms, cultural analyses of voice. We will also examine the way technology and media have been fundamental in shaping the way different groups perceive their social worlds. Students will be required to do their own cultural analysis of a conversation, a written or oral narrative, or of discourse in contemporary culture using the conceptual tools we develop through the course. Readings will include authors such as Judith Irvine, Erving Goffman, J.L. Austin, John Searle, Jacques Derrida, Mikhail Bakhtin, Richard Bauman.
In his ground-breaking work, The Gift, anthropologist Marcel Mauss characterizes the exchange of gifts as a “total social phenomenon,” an archaic mode of organizing economic life that persists as an alternative model to the prevailing economics of scarcity and self-interest. In this course, students are introduced to a range of theological, anthropological, sociological, and poststructuralist perspectives on the complex economies in which gift and sacrifice operate. Special attention is given to corollary concepts that help to define economies of gift and sacrifice, such as generosity, debt, obligation, reciprocity, and exchange, as well as to the relationship between gift and sacrifice. Students will engage with the classical theories of authors such as Robertson-Smith, Kropotkin, Durkheim, Mauss, Hubert, Bataille, Levi-Strauss, Sahlins, & Benveniste, as well as with more contemporary texts by Derrida, Bourdieu, Marion, Caputo, Webb, Girard, Godelier, Hyde, Guenther, Zemon Davis, Bracken & Hénaff.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, LAIS, SRE. The many contemporary religions in Latin American and the Caribbean that draw upon African theology and practice testify to the vitality of the African heritage in the New World. The course examines these religions within their historical context as dimensions of the African diaspora and as they are currently practiced. It is particularly concerned with issues of identity, empowerment, and appropriation, in this light will explore the religious and symbolic dimensions of these religions, from those that claim African orthodoxy to those that have embraced innovation and heterodoxy, and their sociopolitical structures. Issues concerning the race, class, gender, and politics of the leaders who guided these religions and the followers attracted to them will be examined in relation to the degree to which such affiliations may strengthen African identities and foster movements for cultural and racial political empowerment or may represent appropriations of the African heritage serving the interests of dominant groups. Throughout, the class will be attentive to the ways in which these religions are represented in ethnography and film. Religions examined include Candomble, Umbanda, and Batuque in Brazil; Santeria in Cuba and the Dominican Republic; Maria Lionza in Venezuela; Shango in Trinidad; and Vodun in Haiti.
Cross-listed: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Science Technology & Society. Anthropology has been long concerned with bodies as sources of symbolic representations of the social world and as vehicles for expressing individual and collective identities. More recent interests center on mind-body relations and embodiment, and on bodies as targets for the production of consumer desires and sites of commodification and political control. This course will explore a range of different issues raised by these perspectives through readings theorizing the body, supplemented by comparative ethnographic studies of bodily knowledge and practice. We will view bodies as sites of negotiation and resistance and contextualize them within local and global political economies and systems of power. Topics will include the gendering of bodies and other culturally constructed markings of social class, race, age; decisions concerning fertility and reproduction; manipulation of bodily surfaces and forms to establish boundaries and identities through techniques such as tattooing, piercing, dieting, sculpting and cosmetic surgery; commodification and fragmentation of the body through the selling and transplantation of body parts; and the blurring of body/non-body and human/non-human boundaries under the impact of new technologies.
Cross-listed: Asian Studies. Using classic texts of anthropology as well as literature, history, and films, this course looks broadly at representations of South Asia made by foreigners and South Asians alike. Throughout the course we will use the most general definition of ethnography, focusing on how particular metaphors, tropes, and ways of describing South Asia continue to shape our knowledge about South Asia. We will trace the development of certain categories which have become crucial to many ethnographic portrayals of South Asia, such as village, caste, family, religion, and gender as they are used in a variety of ethnographies. We will situate these categories and each ethnographic piece within the broader historical contexts of colonialism, the Partition of Pakistan and India, Indian nationalism, as well as South Asias postcolonial relation to global development and politics. A final section of the course will look at the relation between contemporary politics and media, exploring, for example, the relation between the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and popular T.V. and the Free Tibet activism conducted over the internet. Throughout the course, we will be looking at the representations of South Asia by two well-known Indian artists: Salman Rushdie and Satyajit Ray. Both artists complement and challenge some of the ethnographic texts we will read, and are examples of art that strives to be ethnographic. The course will require students to write a final research paper.
Cross-listed: Anthropology, Global & Int’l Studies. The course will read and analyze travel accounts of Sub-Saharan Africa to try to understand how non African travelers experienced this area, and how their writings contributed to the image of and imagining of Africa by the Western World. Accounts will be drawn from the end of the 18th century to the present, by explorers, travelers and journalists. African-American and Euro-American writers will be our main focus.
Cross-listed: Asian Studies. Why has travel has generated so much textual production? This course will consider travel as a cultural practice and the link between travel writing and ethnography. We will first discuss several genres of travel writing (postcards, letters, journals, guide-books, ethnography) and discuss how these texts reflect as well as shape the experience of travel. We will then ask how personal, group and national identities have been constructed through the practice of travel by looking at travelers writings from the 19th century, noting their connections to ethnographic studies written at the same time. How is ‘home’ configured in relation to foreign places in these texts? Using Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small World, we will also examine some of the ethical dilemmas that tourism in particular poses: what impact does the traveler have on the communities they visit? We will then discuss travel as a rite of passage that depends on a person’s absence from their home environment and provides a space that ostensibly is transformative, as in ritual pilgrimages, the Victorian Grand Tour, anthropological fieldwork or the post-college backpacking trip. Finally, we will consider the writings from exile or diaspora communities that challenge the master narrative of European travel from the ‘center’ to the ‘periphery’. The course will be based on a broad range of sources, including fiction about travel, ethnography, travelogues, letters, as well as anthropological theories about ethnography and travel writing.
Cross-listed: American Studies. Baseball has often been labeled the quintessential American sport. This course explores that claim while it examines the history and diffusion of the game, its performance and representation, and its connections to the politics, of work, ethnicity, race, gender, class, region, and place. Cultural constructions are explored and contrasted in baseball as played in the United States, Japan, and Latin America. Sources in fiction, film, and analytic literature are employed, in conjunction with attendance at amateur (Little League) and professional baseball games. In addition, comparisons with soccer (football), the world's sport, will be explored.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Human Rights, Jewish Studies, LAIS. Brazil, in contrast to the United States, has been portrayed by Brazilians and others, as a "racial democracy". The course examines the debate over the "problem of race" in its early formulation shaped by scientific racism and eugenics, especially the fear of degeneration. It then turns to the Brazilian policy of the 19th and early 20th centuries of branquemento (whitening) which was the basis of large-scale migration to Brazil from all major regions of Europe. These "ethnic" populations settled mainly in southern and south central Brazil leading to significant regional differences in identity politics and racial attitudes. The interplay of "racial" vs. "ethnic" identities is crucial to understanding the allocation of resources and status in Brazilian society. Inequality in contemporary Brazil is explored in terms of the dynamics of racial ideologies, the distribution of national resources and the performance of identity as shaped by "racial" and "ethnic" strategies, and recent government policies. The groups to be discussed are: indigenous/native Brazilians, the Luso-Brazilians, Japanese Brazilians, Euro-ethic Brazilians, and Brazilians of Arab and Jewish descent.
Cross-listed: Asian Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Global & Intl Studies, Human Rights, Science Technology & 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. Anthropologys 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 education, 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 as a means of producing and consolidating social and political power, and exerting political control. Second, we will look at forms of violence that have generated questions about universal rights of humanity versus culturally specific practices, such as widow burning in India and female genital mutilation in postcolonial Africa. In these examples, we explore gendered dimensions in the experience of violence among perpetrators, victims, and survivors. 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. Readings will range from theoretical texts, anthropological ethnographies, as well as popular representations of violence in the media and film.
Cross-listed: Anthropology; Experimental Humanities, Science Technology & Society. Is Google making us smarter? Is Twitter enabling revolutions? What role does technology play in our lives? Technology changes what we do - does it change who we are? We are living at a time of rapid technological innovation and diffusion and the above questions indicate that these new technologies are the cause of both much excitement and much concern. In this class students will learn to understand a variety of media technologies in their historical context and they will explore the impact that these technologies have had on social and political life. To this end, we need to think about technologies in a couple of different ways: (1) What does technology (print, radio, Twitter…) enable us to do? (2) How does technology affect the way people think about themselves, their political situation and the social world? And what are the consequences of these changes? Students will become familiar with relevant concepts from political sociology including nationalism, the public sphere, social capital and social movements. We will also consider the downside of media technologies, and inequalities in terms of access and participation.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, Human Rights. Africa's largest and most diverse country embodies many of the challenges that confront the continent as a whole. These include civil war, mass killing, recurrent famine, radical Islam, oil politics and indigenous cultural destruction. This course examines the current political and humanitarian crisis in Sudan from the perspectives of history, geography, anthropology and political economy. It looks at the natural environment of the region, at its wealth of indigenous languages and ways of life and at the history of Sudanese state formation from ancient times to the present day. How did this vast and culturally diverse country come to be? What was Sudan's experience of Egyptian, Turkish and British imperialism? In the post-colonial period what has been the role of Sudan’s neighbours and of the western powers? And what has been the effect of the rise of political Islam? What enduring patterns can we see in Sudanese history? What is the role of ethnic identity in Sudanese life? And what does it mean to be Sudanese today? Particular attention will be given to Sudan's civil wars in Darfur and in Southern Sudan. Are these most usefully understood as resource conflicts, as the consequence of unequal economic development, or as the result of cultural and religious difference? Is oil exploitation a help or hindrance? Do Sudan's recurrent conflicts mean that the country is destined to break up into more than one political entity, as other countries in the region have already done (Somalia and Ethiopia)? The course will use historical texts, contemporary reportage, ethnographic monographs, documentary video, and music and literature from Sudan to develop an understanding of the complexities of the country and its borderlands.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Human Rights. As one of the few regions on the continent charted for permanent European settlement, southern Africa has been marked by histories of violence that far surpassed normative applications of colonialism. In the wake of such intense turmoil, nations struggled to reinvent themselves at the moment of Independence, scripting new national mythologies and appeals for unity. This course explores these contests over nationhood in the post-apartheid era, focusing primarily on the experiences of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Some of the main themes we will address include the politics of commemoration and the symbolic capital of liberation war veterans, the charismatic authority of individuals such as Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe, sexual violence and the trial of Jacob Zuma, the role of sport in reimagining national identity, and the paradox of white African belonging. We will examine memories of ethnic genocide in Matabeleland documented by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, and track new anxieties in the media precipitated by the influx of immigrants into South Africa. In the final section of the course, we will turn to recent alliances between Africa and China, and possibilities for the emergence of an alternate global order.
Cross-listed: Asian Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Science, Technology & Society. Japanese animation, or anime, constitutes one of the most dynamic sites of cultural production in contemporary Japan. Although anime films consistently top the box office charts, the genre received relatively little academic attention until the 1990s. More recently, however, the recognition of the centrality of anime in Japanese cultural worlds has rapidly burgeoned into a theoretically rigorous and ethnographically rich area of analysis. One of the objectives of this course will be to trace the history of anime and its relationships to the nation’s social, political, and economic transformations over the past century. We will explore the origins of Japanese animation, which emerged in the 1930s as a form of government propaganda to educate children about the imperialist project in Asia. In the post-war decades, animated films depicted the national trauma of the atomic bombs, while others created a new, utopian vision of a modern Japan that centered around industry and technology. Since then, the field has expanded to incorporate many different sub-genres, including ‘Tokyo cyberpunk,’ the supernatural and occult, romantic shojo ‘cute young girl’ anime, and post-apocalyptic fantasy. By examining these categories, we will address larger issues of nationalism, gender, modernity, crisis, and urban terror in Japanese society. The last section of this course will consider the globalization of this genre in recent decades. Sensations such as Pokémon and Spirited Away have radically reconfigured Japan’s relationship with global popular culture, heightening the prestige and cachet of Japanese artistic production, even as the nation’s political and economic influence wanes. This course will therefore provide an in-depth exploration of historical and contemporary social landscapes in Japan through the lens of anime. Priority will be given to students with previous coursework in anthropology.
Cross-listed: Asian Studies. With the increased dispersion of peoples around the globe, ‘the diaspora’ has become an important concept to think through changing ideas about nationalism and global citizenship. People have been traveling around the world for centuries, so what distinguishes a ‘diaspora’ from any other immigrant or migrant group? How are the modes of belonging within diaspora communities similar to or different from other forms of identity? This course begins with the premise that the perception of being part of a diaspora is currently enabled by new communication technologies (telephone, internet, radio, email, newspapers) that purport to connect national/ethnic communities dispersed around the globe. In the first part of the course, we will examine some of the prevailing theories of diaspora, with the aim of relating them to theories of nationalism and identity. In the second part of the course, we will move beyond the question of identity and discuss the various media that create affective and political relations across borders. In the final portion of the course, we will read several ethnographies of diaspora communities, as we seek to reveal the links between diaspora, culture, and media. Ethnographies will focus on South Asian diasporas, including Sikhs in North America, Pakistanis in London, Indians in Fiji, Tibetans in India and Nepal.
Cross-listed: Gender & Sexuality Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Human Rights, Middle Eastern Studies. What does Islamic feminism look like? What is the relationship between Egyptian piety and cassette tapes? Does silence actually mean consent? These are a few of the questions this course, which is a survey of some of the major topics that have preoccupied scholars of the Modern Middle East, aims to answer. Our emphasis will be on anthropological texts, but we will also examine a select number of texts by political scientists, literary scholars and sociologists whose work has become crucial to anthropological understandings of the Middle East and of the Muslim World. We will read ethnographically-based analyses of Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Turkey and Iran. In doing so, we will tack back and forth between an examination of how and why scholarship has chosen certain theoretical and ethnographic “hotspots” (e.g. women, Islam), on the one hand, and an in-depth discussion and analysis of the particular themes themselves (e.g. the relationship between colonialism and the nation), on the other. The overarching aim of this class will be to complicate the popular assumption that the areas that constitute what is known as "the Middle East" are culturally static, politically predictable or socially homogeneous, by exploring the diverse cultural, political and material worlds that shape collective life and individual subjectivity there.
Cross-list: Anthropology, Asian Studies, Global & Int’l Studies, Human Rights. The Imperial Durbar, Bastille Day, the US presidential inaugural, Japan’s celebration of victory in the Russo-Japanese War, pageants reenacting the Bolshevik Revolution, and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. In all these forms and many others, political ritual has been central to nation-building, colonialism, and political movements over the last three centuries. This course uses a global, comparative perspective to analyze the modern history of political ritual. We will explore the emergence of new forms of political ritual with the rise of the nation-state in the nineteenth century and track global transformations in the performance of politics as colonialism spread the symbols and pageantry of the nation-state. Central topics will include state ritual and the performance of power, the relationship between ritual and citizenship in the modern nation-state, the ritualization of politics in social and political movements, and the power of mediated mass spectacle in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Seminar meetings will focus on discussion of secondary and primary materials that allow us to analyze the intersection of ritual and politics in a variety of contexts. These will range from early-modern Europe, pre-colonial Bali, and late-imperial China to revolutionary France, 19th-century America, colonial India, post-colonial Africa, several fascist and socialist states, Europe in 1968, Asad’s Syria, and the contemporary global marketplace. In addition to common readings and seminar participation, students will write a final seminar paper exploring one aspect or instance of political ritual. Moderated history students can use this course for a major conference.
Cross-listed: American Studies, Anthropology. This course explores the ethnographic impulse in American literature from the 1830s to the 1930s, from Alexis de Tocqueville to Zora Neale Hurston. We will track the transformations of the two concepts in the course title, writing and culture, as they influence each other over time, considering how modes of literary representation (e.g., romance, realism, travel narrative, folklore, literary dialect) respond to and influence ideas of cultural difference, particularly as those ideas undergo radical revision around the turn of the 20th century. In addition to our primary literary and ethnographic texts -- by authors including Melville, Jewett, Harris, Boas, Sapir, La Flesche, Oskison, Cushing, Chesnutt, Cable, Chopin, Anderson, Wharton, and Williams -- we will read supplementary material on the interface of anthropology and literary studies, on the history of the culture concept, and on the politics of multiculturalism.
Cross-listed: Music, Experimental Humanities. This course examines a rich and expanding body of ethnographic writing and multimedia work on human engagements with sound and the ways in which aural capacities, sounding and listening practices, and sound technologies are embedded in social, cultural, and historical contexts. Topics to be covered include cultural understandings of sound, noise, and music; ethnographic listening and recording in the history of anthropological practice; the sensorium and the anthropology of the senses; soundscape studies; acoustemology; the voice and vocal anthropology; and the role of sound in the production of public and private spaces and spheres. However defined, the anthropology of sound is a highly interdisciplinary enterprise, nurtured by communications studies, human geography, linguistics, music studies, phenomenology, science and technology studies, and other fields. Course materials—including articles, chapters, books, and audiovisual recordings—will reflect this interdisciplinarity; however, they will bear a heavier emphasis on ethnography than is often found within the broader realm of “sound studies.” Assignments will include a final project involving limited ethnographic “participant-audition” and possibly sound(scape) recording.
Cross-listed: History, Human Rights. This course is organized around several practices and technologies that produce collective and personal memory. The class will explore a distinction commonly made between 'memory' and 'history', asking on what basis this distinction is made and how it maps on to our ideas about foreign places and people. The techniques and technologies of public memory we will examine may include ancient "memory palaces," historical writing, oral narrative, ritual, myth, monuments, museums and archives. We will also explore how radio and photography are used to produce national and familial representations of the past. The focus in each section will be on how the particular medium of remembering shapes the content of what is remembered. We will address who has access to memory practices, stressing the link between the production of particular memories and their political uses. The class will give students a theoretical base to write a final research paper that situates a contemporary memory practice in its specific cultural and historical context: the recent proliferation of family genealogies, Holocaust testimonies and/or museums, the truth commissions, local histories are among a few possible examples.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, Human Rights, Environmental & Urban Studies. Human ideas about animals have changed throughout history, giving rise to a wide spectrum of attitudes across cultures. The past century in particular has witnessed a radical reconceptualization in the nature of human-animal relations, emerging in tandem with the modern environmentalist movement. Everywhere we turn, animals have captured the popular imagination, with dinosaurs crowned as the cultural icon of the 1990s, Shamu representing the fulfillment of our romantic vision of cetaceans, and Winnie the Pooh constituting a social universe in which children are taught morality and kindness. Beneath the centrality of animals in our social, economic, and physical worlds, moreover, lies their deep implication within human cultural politics. Some of the questions we will consider throughout the semester include: how, and by whom, is the line between humans and animal drawn? What are the politics of taxonomy and classification? How do animal subjectivities contribute to the formation of human identities? Where are animals positioned on the moral landscapes of cultures? We will explore these shifting terrains through the angle of ‘animal geography,’ a field that focuses on how animals have been socially defined, labeled, and ordered in cultural worldviews.
Cross-listed: Africana Studies, Environmental & Urban Studies, Human Rights, Global & Int’l Studies, Science Technology & Society. Bridging two prominent schools of thought from the 1960s to the 1980s, political ecology emerged in the early 1990s from the intersection between cultural ecology and political economy. Based on the principle that environmental conditions are the product of political processes, the field is interdisciplinary in orientation, integrating the work of anthropologists, geographers, historians, political scientists, and sociologists. Through close attention to local historical and social contexts, we will explore topics such as the politics of knowledge, state power, sustainable development, mapping, urban ecology, corporations and conservation, and multilateral environmental governance. The majority of the readings will be drawn from case studies in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Priority will be given to moderated students in Anthropology and Environmental and Urban Studies.
Cross-listed: Anthropology, LAIS. What does it mean to be Maya today and what has it meant in the past? Using materials from Guatemala and southern Mexico, this course will attempt to approach this question from many different angles. We will draw from the fields of literature, anthropology, and history to address the complexity of the issue. Extreme historical circumstances have forced indigenous communities to rethink how best to preserve their ways of life while participating in the modern state as a site to promote their particular needs. Such repressive circumstances include the political and economic marginalization that culminated in the Zapatista rebellion of 1994 in southern Mexico, the extended period of state-sponsored violence directed against the Maya communities in Guatemala, and the numerous Maya exiles displaced during this period. As part of this process, the circulation of oral stories and the re-reading of pre-colonial texts, such as the Popol Vuh or the Rabinal Achi, have been instrumental in negotiating the current perception of Mayan identities. We will read selections from these texts as well as contemporary Mayan novels, poetry and testimonies of Victor Montejo, Humberto Ak’abal, Gaspar Pedro González and Rigoberta Menchú among others. Framed by ethnographic materials and the work of various social scientists including Diane Nelson, June Nash, John M. Watanabe and Edward F. Fischer, we will consider many different approaches to identity formation and discuss how Mayan intellectuals and others tend to define what it means to be Maya in contemporary society. Conducted in English.
Cross-listed: Human Rights. This course is intended as an introduction to advanced theories of culture in contemporary anthropology. Required of all anthropology majors, this course will also be of interest to students wishing to explore critical innovations in the study of local, national, and mass culture around the world. In contrast to early anthropological focus on seemingly isolated, holistic cultures, more recent studies have turned their attention to contest within societies and the intersection of local systems of meaning with global processes of politics, economics and history. The class will be designed around an influential social theorist, such as Bourdieu, Bakhtin, or Marx, and the application of their theories by anthropologists, such as Aihwa Ong, Judith Irvine, or Michael Taussig. The seminar will involve participation from all of the faculty in the anthropology department. It aims to inspire critical engagement with an eye towards developing theoretical tools and questions for a senior project that makes use of contemporary theories of culture. Required for all moderated Anthropology majors.
Cross-listed: Human Rights, Asian Studies; Related Interest: Science and Technology Studies. As people around the world engage on a daily (and even hourly) basis with a variety of different media and technology, anthropologists have turned their attention to way new and old media shape people's perception of time, space, social and personal identity. Just as culture is being reshaped by everyday media practices, media itself has reshaped our idea of culture and humanity. Looking broadly at the concept of 'mediation,' this course will discuss contemporary theories and ethnographies of media and technology. We will look at examples such as: the use of cellphones to organize political protest, the use of photography to link national with personal identity, the use of gramophones and sound recording to record voices of the dead, the use of radio to produce national and intimate subjects, social networking sites that produce new forms of public intimacy. We will do a collective ethnography on one internet site, and students will be required to do their own ethnographic project of one media or technological form.
This course will provide an orientation to anthropological and oral history literature on methodology, self-reflexivity and ethics in the collection of material during ethnographic research. We will study the specific characteristics, possible uses, and ethical ramifications of a range of qualitative methods including: participant observation, unstructured interviews, structured interviews, focus groups, and the collection of oral histories. We will also explore the ways in which these methods may be modified for use in ethnographic research conducted in cyberspace. Discussion of anthropological and oral history literature on these subjects will be supplemented with practical exercises in designing and applying ethically informed research methods.
Cross-listed: Religion. Religion is undeniably an important global issue in our times, as much a force for justice as a source of conflict, as much a space of comfort as one of doubt, of conformity as well as creativity. Religion has been a central subject since Anthropology's beginnings, so the discipline has been crucial in giving shape to the concept of religion in the social sciences and in the wider sphere of Western culture. With its ethnographic method, it can get under ideological and doctrinal positions to shed light on actual practice and experience; and since it has always insisted on a holistic approach, it analyzes religion not in isolation but as part of other forces and phenomena. Indeed, religion cannot be understood or experienced outside its socio-economic context. Nor can it be analyzed without its boundary categories, those areas in contrast to which it is recognized as 'religion': science, rationalism, secularism, politics. What are the boundaries of religion and how have they been shaped? How do religion and politics articulate in the contemporary world? What is the relationship between religion and science, and other secular formations of power and knowledge? How do religion and the secular shape contemporary selves? What are new emerging forms of religion, and what is this thing called spirituality that suddenly seems to be everywhere? We will think about these issues not by judging or listing various kinds of belief, but through concepts and practices, theories and ethnographies, that relate religious and non-religious domains. We will look at cases such political action in Islam and Evangelical Christianity; religion and secular politics in India; Tibetan medicine and its incorporation of science; possession and capitalist relations; technoscientific spirituality and new materialist cosmologies.
Cross-listed: Religion. Rather than think about death as a universal category or catalog the endless variety of mortuary rituals, this course will examine ‘death’ through a number of categories that construct the end of human life differently, with radically different entailments, rules, perceptions and procedures. The categories examined will include suicide and sacrifice, good and bad death, the soul and the corpse, immortality, and technological death. We will also examine ways in which death is produced and understood in relation to the state, to social structure and to secular sensibilities. Readings and discussions will be cross-cultural, ethnographic and theoretical, forming a concrete enquiry into how different forms of dying are constructed and represented across cultures.
Since the eighteenth century, childhood and youth have often been understood as times of happiness, innocence, and closeness to nature distinct from adulthood. At the same time, many writers, activists, and policymakers have witnessed young people in conditions of violence, toil, and poverty, and they have spoken of “children at risk” or even “children without childhood.” How can we make sense of these portrayals of young people’s lives? Do the worries about “children without childhood” offer a picture contrary to the romantic view of youth, or do they instead subscribe to it? How did ideas about a separate and happy childhood become so prevalent in the first place, and how do they compare with young people’s actual experiences? Finally, how are recent changes in young people’s lives related to larger cultural transformations and persistent structures of inequality? This course will address these and other questions through an examination of young people’s experiences in a variety of historical and geographic contexts, although we will focus to some degree on the contemporary U.S. and the Middle East. In addition, the class will include a small-scale ethnographic project that will allow students to conduct fieldwork on some aspect of youth cultural production on or near the Bard campus. Throughout the course, a key point of emphasis will be that young people are not merely the passive recipients of tradition, but resourceful social actors who help to re-create ways of acting, thinking, and feeling. At the same time, they are not merely the targets of policy, but actively contribute, sometimes in unexpected ways, to social and political change.
Cross-listed: GISP, Irish and Celtic Studies. Ireland has long captured the anthropological imagination, producing classic depictions of kinship and community, controversial accounts of rural decline and disorder, and current work on the country’s shifting position in European and world politics. This course includes a range of ethnographic exploration in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We will consider the multiple and contested meanings of Irish identity in contexts as varied as the increasingly diverse city of Dublin, nomadic or semi-nomadic Traveller communities, politically divided Northern Ireland towns, and rural Gaeltacht, or Irish language regions. Furthermore, we will consider various lenses through which to examine contemporary and historical Ireland. For example, does it make sense to apply postcolonial theory to Ireland? How might we understand the Troubles differently through an inclusion of women’s or young people’s perspectives and participation? What is the relationship of ethnoreligious symbolism, violence, and ritual practice? Students will be expected to supplement assigned ethnographic texts and films with material on current events in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Cross-listed: Global & International Studies, Human Rights, Middle Eastern Studies, Studies in Race and Ethnicity. This course examines Islam and its practitioners’ complex relationships with Europe as a geographic territory, sociopolitical entity, and discursive category. While there has been a great deal of attention recently paid to Muslim immigration and settlement since World War II, the Islamic presence in (what came to be known as) Europe dates back to Arab and Berber incursions into the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century. In addition, Islam, Muslims, and Muslim polities have left a significant imprint on Eastern Europe, primarily as a result of the Ottoman Empire’s expansion into the Balkans. Given this long-standing presence, why is Islam so commonly conceived as a moral and cultural formation external to Europe, European history, and European identities? Why are Muslims regarded (at best) as in Europe but not of it? How does this tacit or explicit exclusion shape the everyday practices and perceptions of Muslims who currently live there? And finally, how does the representation of Muslims as a fundamentally foreign element inform contemporary debates about Islam’s compatibility with secularism and liberal democratic citizenship? This course will examine these questions through readings, films, and other materials that work comparatively across national contexts and historical eras. It will include a number of case studies relating, among other themes, to the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Turkey’s admission to the European Union, the recent depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in cartoon form, and the response to remarks by Pope Benedict XVI.
Cross-listed: Science, Technology & Society. Science has become an important stage on which social, moral, ethical, and even existential dilemmas and dramas are produced and played out globally. In part, these contests and conflicts have to do with recent scientific and technological ventures that have challenged, even redefined, some previously stable and important categories categories such as life, death, nature, human, animate and inanimate. Using ethnographies, theoretical readings and overviews of several fields, whilst examining diverse sites of scientific production and dissemination around the world from hospitals to outer space, from indigenous knowledge to genetic labs we will look at how science and technology are changing perceptions of these categories and what the consequences might be for public life, including for the contested boundaries of science itself.
Started in antiquity, practiced as ideology in the 19th century, but acquiring a discourse in the 1960s, urban guerrilla movements became emblematic of political praxis of the youth. In this course we will address issues that are to do first with the conceptualization of youth as a category, the political and cultural movements that made such a conceptualization possible, the ideologies that inform such political action, and the development of these ideologies as youth become middle-aged. The primary focus of the course, however, will be on the conceptualization of armed violence as political resistance to the transgressions of the state against it citizens. Material will be drawn from literature, political theory, and anthropology and will examine cases from Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the US.
Cross-listed: Art History. This seminar examines the evolving relationship between art and secularism from the modern period to the present. We will begin by examining the emergence of secular discourses regarding art in thinkers such as Nietzsche and Weber, and the separation of art as an autonomous, self-sufficient social domain with its own institutional forms, such as museums and memorials, and its own non-transcendent aesthetic values, such as authenticity. Yet, throughout this period, art and the artist occupied an ambiguous position between the sacred and the profane. Today, in what some call a post-secular period, there is a rise in artistic and scientific practices associated with cosmology, immortality, animism, and transcendence. In the second part of the course, we will explore contemporary practices in the arts and sciences that indicate a post-secular sensibility from an anthropological perspective. We will look at recent international exhibits on animism and fetishism, as well as writings on the notion of re-enchantment. Tackling ideas and practices from neuroaesthetics and bio-art to cryonics, hypnosis and techno-shamanism, we will explore the way these concepts and strategies are changing the secular rules of separation between person and body, object and agency, affect and cognition, matter and the immaterial, this life and an afterlife.
Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies, GISP, Human Rights, Middle Eastern Studies. What does it mean to be ‘modern’ in the Middle East in the aftermath of colonialism and in the face of continuing Euro-American efforts to reform the region’s social, economic, and political life? Does modernity require the abandonment of tribal affiliations, cousin marriages, and the headscarf, among other putatively ‘traditional’ social forms and practices? Or does it involve more complex, creative negotiations of existing constraints and available resources? Indeed, is there more than one way to be ‘modern’? This course will examine these and other questions through intensive reading of recent anthropological and other social scientific literature, critical analysis of popular cultural artifacts, and focused film viewing. In the process, we will primarily concentrate on twentieth- and twenty-first-century transformations in Middle Eastern national identities, state practices, and public spheres, especially as they have been affected by the introduction of compulsory education, mass literacy, and the mass media. At the same time, we will investigate what influences these larger cultural-political processes have exerted on the production and consumption of commodities and on more intimate practices of kinship, gender, and sexuality. Finally, we will consider recent efforts to manage the relationship between religion and secular-liberal life. This last theme, in particular, will require us to examine Islam, but we will not approach the faith as a fixed, unitary system of principles with a single meaning. Instead, we will treat it as a discursive tradition that individuals and institutions have interpreted, invoked, and used in multiple ways and for a variety of purposes.
Cross-listed: Global & Int’l Studies; Human Rights; Middle East Studies. Theorists of revolution from Karl Marx to Hannah Arendt have argued that revolutions emerge from a collective sense that human existence itself is no longer viable under the existing order. This course explores the conditions under which such a sense has emerged at particular historic moments in the modern Middle East, drawing on case studies including, but not limited to: the Algerian war of independence, the establishment of the nation-state of Israel, the Palestinian struggle for national liberation, the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the post-colonial revolution in Egypt, the course will examine revolutionary discourses, practices and strategies, as well as the historic contexts within which they emerge. What role have revolutionary discourses, practices, and strategies played in the imagining of a new order? To what extent have these imaginings been realized after the revolution?
This course begins by considering the extent to which time and space are cultural constructions that vary within and across social groups. As we challenge understandings of these concepts as natural or inevitable, we will also explore different possibilities for measuring, representing, and creating meaning in relation to them. Time and space are so fundamental that we are often unaware of the ways they are embedded in our lives. Yet on a daily basis they reflect and reinforce interpersonal and institutional relations of power. This course therefore also investigates spatio-temporal dynamics and strategies as elements of social hierarchy. In addition, it examines time and space as organizing concepts with which to understand the world. For example, why is it problematic to study a contemporary society as if it represented another society’s past? What are the implications of dividing the world spatially into categories such as East and West or core and periphery? Finally, we will consider how political economy structures experiences of time and space. This includes temporal disciplines of commodity production, state seizure of “private” time under socialism, and descriptions of time-space compression in late capitalism. This course is open to Upper College students. Students moderating during the semester will also be considered.