Skip to main content

ANTH 490-058: Water and Inequality
Valerie Lambert
Thursday 10:00-12:50 PM  Alumni 313A

The primary goal of this discussion class is to foster an appreciation of the tremendous role of water in shaping human experience, including the ways water shapes where people live, constrains what they do (especially what they produce), and plays a major role in the institutionalization of social, political, and economic inequalities. Students will gain skills in analyzing water conflicts, acquire specialized knowledge in certain specific water issues, and achieve a broad anthropological understanding of politics through the lens of water politics. Although this class is oriented toward and will give priority to anthropology majors, non-anthropology majors and other students are welcome to enroll and will be warmly received.

ANTH 499-053: In Response to Global Crises: Conversations on Ecological and Cultural Transitions
Arturo Escobar
Thursday 5:00-7:50 PM  Greenlaw 305

The course is intended as an exploration of certain salient topics related to the present state of the world and its possible futures. We will read several powerful statements on “the state of the world,” from both scholarly and popular literatures, particularly around the interrelated crises of climate, energy, food, and poverty. We will also look at various statements about possible ways forward, including the visualization of scenarios for the future. The course will devote particular attention to emerging narratives of transition, those that emphasize the need for a radical ecological and cultural transformation beyond the dominant capitalistic model that has characterized ‘Western modernity.’ This will include the question itself of: what does it mean to imagine a future? What intellectual and cultural resources are mobilized to this end? What cultural-political tasks do individuals/groups take on when visualizing ‘the future’? Throughout the course, participants will be encouraged to construct their own ‘assessment of the state of the world,’ craft their own ‘scenario,’ and articulate their own understanding of transitions. In other words, and above all, the goal will be for participants to articulate their own notion of ‘what’s going on’ and to develop a personal vision (theoretical, ethical, political) of the world’s possible futures and our role in it. The course will have a built-in research component, and this will be a collective effort.

ANTH 499-083: Community in India and South Asia
Townsend Middleton
Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45  Alumni 205

This course will explore community formation and mobilization in India and across South Asia. Ethnographies from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal will introduce students to a range of pressing issues for South Asia—among them: gender inequality; globalization and development; subnationalist autonomy movements; environmental justice; and religious nationalism. As we shall see, community plays an integral role in shaping how individuals and collectives negotiate these concerns of the contemporary moment, but not always in ways familiar to the western eye. The course will accordingly use community as a focal point for exploring contemporary South Asia while unsettling rigid conceptions of what a community entails. Through cross-cultural comparison, this class will thus challenge students to recognize—and imagine—alternative forms of community and alternative relations between individuals, publics, and society writ large.

ANTH 699-073/ENGL 661: Narrative, Literature, and Medicine
Michele Rivkin-Fish (ANTH, Jane Thrailkill (ENGL,
Thursday 12:00-2:50 PM  Alumni 308


In his book The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics, sociologist Arthur Frank asserts that “whether ill people want to tell stories or not, illness calls for stories.” Judging by the popularity of hospital-based television dramas, medically themed novels, outbreak narratives, patient blogs, and clinician memoirs, the connection between illness and storytelling is tighter than ever.

This new seminar, team-taught by a professors of English and Anthropology, brings together literary and ethnographic methods to explore narrative approaches to suffering, healing, and medicine’s roles in these processes. By examining compelling works from a range of genres — long-form journalism, the short story, the ethnographic case study, and the novel—students will learn analytical techniques from both fields and hone their interpretive and writing skills.

Readings will likely include Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Illych,” Abraham Vergese’s Cutting For Stone, and Art Spiegleman’sMaus (and the extended interview with him about the making of Maus, MetaMaus) as well as supplemental materials drawn from anthropology, medicine, and narratology.

Assignments: Two analytical essays, one illness narrative, and one ethnographic interview. In consultation with instructors, students will develop a self-directed final project, which may be written, dramatic, multi-media, or community-based.

►This is an ideal course for undergrad students who are working toward a career in healthcare and /or minoring in medical anthropology, and graduate students interested in medical humanities , social medicine, and medical anthropology.


ANTH 897-037: Environment & Population: The ecology of risk, uncertainty, and demographic behavior
Paul Leslie
Friday 9:00-12:00 PM  Alumni 302

Concern over the relationship between population and environment abounds. But the most salient research and discussion has focused on one aspect of the relationship — human impact on the environment. In this seminar, we will be concerned primarily, though not exclusively, with the other side of the relationship – how environmental characteristics (especially the physical and biotic environments, but also the social/economic/political environment as it interacts with the above) affect population characteristics and dynamics. These two “directional arrows” are of course ultimately inseparable; the distinction here is one of emphasis. We will be concerned not only with how environmental characteristics affect human populations, but also with how responses to those environmental characteristics – mitigation or coping – in turn affect the environment. That is, we will whenever possible take a systems view. A special emphasis will be on the biological and behavioral consequences of environmental fluctuations and unpredictability.

ANTH 898-062: Writing Lives
Charles Price
Friday 1:00-3:50 PM  Alumni 313A

The goal of Writing Lives is to facilitate the development of students’ qualitative and analytic research skills through a project that culminates in writing a polished life narrative. Students will design a research plan; share research strategies; discuss ethical concerns; develop a research relationship with an interlocutor; hone methodological techniques such as in-depth interviewing and writing field notes; transcribe, organize, and analyze an in-depth interview; and generate a life narrative informed by grounded explanations and the relevant literature. The focus of the course project will be identity, with an emphasis on “becoming and being” – that is, how do people develop and cultivate particular identifications?

ANTH 898-075: The Archaeology of Religion
Patricia A. McAnany
Thursday 1:00-3:50 PM  Alumni 201

Long relegated to a residual category of archaeological interpretation or disdained as an “opiate of the masses”, religion is attracting renewed importance as archaeologists tackle meaning and materiality. Over the last five years, publications that focus on “belief in the past” have proliferated, embracing widely divergent approaches. In this seminar we examine this renaissance in the study of meaning, metaphor, and mediation between humans and supernaturals. The survey includes Whitehouse’s modes of religiosity, Lewis-Williams’ cognitive-science approach to the emergence of religion, spirituality embedded within landscape, and ritual practice as social memory, sensual pageantry, and resistance to oppression. Each seminar participant brings to the table a topical dimension of religious practice and a relevant case study with which all participants engage. Together we consider the hermeneutics of religion in archaeological contexts.