Courses

Anthropology Courses Spring 2017

Archaeology Courses Primarily for Undergrads and Grads

Anthro 97x: Sophomore Tutorial in Archaeology
Matthew Liebmann
This course will focus on archaeological thinking, the cognitive skeleton of the discipline of archaeology, the principles and the logic that are the foundation of all archaeological conclusions and research. Central to this is an understanding of research design, archaeological theory and interpretation, culture and material culture; as well as an understanding of how to examine and construct an archaeological argument.
 
Anthro 98xb: Junior Tutorial in Archaeology
Rowan Flad
This individual tutorial for archaeology students intending to write a senior thesis is normally undertaken with a member of the faculty during the second term of junior year. To enroll, a student must submit a petition form (available from the Head Tutor for Archaeology, or downloadable from the department's Anthropology [Archaeology] website) with a proposed course plan of study and the tutorial adviser's signature.
 
Anthro 99: Thesis Tutorial in Archaeology – Senior Year
Rowan Flad/Ramyar Rossoukh
Research and writing of the Senior Thesis. Limited to honors candidates. Signature of the faculty adviser on a departmental form is required. This form is available from the Head Tutor for Archaeology or downloadable from the department's Anthropology (Archaeology) website. Part two of a two-part series.
 
Anthro 1060: Archaeological Science
Richard Meadow
Focus on physical science and engineering methods and techniques used by archaeologists in the reconstruction of time, space, and human paleoecology, and analysis of archaeological materials. Topics include 14C dating, ice core and palynological analysis, stable isotope chemistry of paleodietary foodwebs, plant residues from ceramic vessels, processing of latex to rubber for Mesoamerican ballgames, ancient bronze smelting and consequences for environmental pollution, and microstructural and mechanical analyses of cementitious materials used in ancient monumental buildings.
 
Meets at MIT on Mondays 7-10 pm - Classroom 4-370 (Building 4, Room 370) This class runs on the MIT schedule. The first class is on Monday, February 8, 2016, the last class is on May 9, 2016. The last exams at MIT are on May 20. Classes are on: Feb. 8, Feb. 16 (Tuesday since Monday is a holiday), Feb. 22, Feb. 29, March 7, March 14, [March 21 - Spring Break Week], March 28, April 4, April 11, [April 18 & 19 - Patriots Day holiday], April 25, May 2, May 9. Total instructional days: 12. If you wish to take the class, please contact Prof. Heather Lechtman , the course head, before Harvard study cards are due in order to confirm your participation and to request that a syllabus be sent to you.
 
Anthro 1080:   American History Before Columbus
Matthew Liebmann
Archaeology of Native North America, from the first appearance of humans on the continent to the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s. Topics to be covered include: history of the discipline; megafaunal extinctions; Archaic deep-sea fishers in the Northeast; buffalo hunters on the Northern Plains; origins of agriculture; moundbuilding cultures of the Midwest; Pueblo peoples of the Southwest; complex foragers of the Northwest coast; dynamic contact period interactions; and current political debates and ethical issues relating to the archaeology of North America.
 
Anthro 1095: Urban Revolutions: Archaeology and the Investigation of Early States
Jason Ur
Examines the development and structure of the earliest state-level societies in the ancient world. Archaeological approaches are used to analyze the major factors behind the processes of urbanization and state formation in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Central Asia, the Indus Valley, and Mesoamerica. The environmental background as well as the social, political, and economic characteristics of each civilization are compared to understand the varied forces that were involved in the transitions from village to urbanized life. Discussion sections utilize archaeological materials from the Peabody Museum and Semitic Museum collections to study the archaeological methods used in the class.
 
Anthro 1131: Archaeology of Harvard Yard II: Laboratory Methods and Analysis
Patricia Capone/Diana Loren                          
Open to students who participated in the fall term investigations in Harvard Yard, this course focuses on the detailed analysis of the materials recovered in the excavations, within the context of archival and comparative archaeological and historical research. The analysis will also include an evaluation of the results of the ground-penetrating radar surveys conducted prior to the excavations, as part of the research design for the next season of investigations of the Indian College site.
 
Anthro 1150: Ancient Landscapes
Jason Ur
Archaeological approaches to settlement and land use at the regional scale. Issues will include settlement systems, agricultural and pastoral systems, the role of humans environmental change, and also the methods used to investigate them.
 
Anthro 1168: Maya Glyphs
Nicholas Carter
Learn to read and write in Maya glyphs to discover the most spectacular civilization in the Americas in its own words! This course covers the basics of Maya writing and art using the outstanding visual and material collections of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions and Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. It explores the indigenous Maya myths, histories, and stories of life at the ancient courts of lords and nobles.
 
Anthro 1235: Origins and Dispersals of Modern Humans
Christian Tryon/Bridget Alex
Genetic, fossil, and archaeological evidence indicate that all living humans descend from a population living in Africa around 200,000 years ago. By 40,000 years ago modern humans had expanded across Africa and dispersed to Eurasia and Australia, in the process colonizing new lands and entering regions inhabited by other hominins like the Neanderthals. The global spread of modern humans involved a complex process of interbreeding, competition, and extinctions of different human lineages.  What biological, behavioral, and technological changes allowed for the origin and dispersals of modern humans?  Why are we still here, whereas other members of our genus, such as Homo erectus, went extinct?  This discussion seminar will uniquely incorporate hands-on examination of the rich collections of Paleolithic artifacts and fossils housed at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum as well as experimental replication of ancient tools.
 
Soc-World 40:  The Incas: The Last Great Empire of Pre-Columbian South America
Gary Urton
This course guides students on an exploration of the largest and most complex civilization of Pre-Columbian America - the Inca Empire of Andean South America. We will address such questions as how did a civilization emerge and thrive at 12,000 feet above sea level? How could a state-level society exist without markets, the wheel, or writing? In addition to lectures and discussions, students will experience the products of Inca civilization through hands-on study of artifacts in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

 

Archaeology Courses Primarily for Graduate Students

Anthro 2010br: Materials in Ancient Societies: Ceramics
Richard Meadow
This seminar-laboratory subject provides in-depth study of the technologies of ancient societies.
 
Anthro 2177: South American Archaeology
Gary Urton
Provides an overview of Pre-Columbian civilizations on the continent of South America from the earliest record of human habitation to the time of the European invasion, in the sixteenth century. Focuses on the archaeology of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, the Andes, and the Pacific coast of Peru and Chile. Extensive use will be made of the South American collections in the Peabody Museum.
 
Anthro 2211: Archaeology and Heritage
William Fash                        
The links between archaeology, cultural heritage, and nation building have been fundamentally important to archaeological practice since the origins of the discipline. The uses and abuses of archaeology by the state over the past fifty years have been criticized by all manner of social scientists, journalists, local communities and indigenous people in countries across the globe, in dozens of books, hundreds of articles, and The International Journal of Heritage Studies. Archaeological practice and heritage management continue to be the topic of lively theoretical and legal debates by multiple stakeholders with competing claims to the past. The ideological uses and commodification of archaeological heritage by diverse factions has led many archaeologists to become actively involved in creating sustainable solutions that promote responsible heritage stewardship in this dynamic context. The members of the seminar will read and discuss theoretical schema, practice and critiques from the Americas and the Old World in examining innovative approaches to archaeological heritage management. The focus in this seminar will be on finding a ‘third way’ to address the valid claims of local communities and indigenous peoples, vis-à-vis the ways central governments construct their own origin myths and legitimation of the state through archaeological research and its presentation to the public.
 
Anthro 2240: Economic Archaeology: Production   
Rowan Flad
A seminar on economic archaeology focused on production: Topics include specialization, craft production, production and power, the practice/performance of production, production and gender, ritualized production, and the production of memory.

Social Anthropology Courses Primarily for Undergrads and Grads

Anthro 97z: Sophomore Tutorial in Social Anthropology
Steve Caton
The course is designed as a foundational course with the specific purpose of introducing the principal social theorists whose work has been crucial to the discipline of social anthropology, that is: Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Foucault. The first objective is to delineate the broad outlines of their thought and the central questions that informed their intellectual and political interventions. The second objective is to provide a solid grounding in the key concepts as well as the theoretical and methodological contributions of these social theorists. Finally, we will seek to demonstrate how contemporary anthropological theory continues to engage with their work.
 
Anthro 98zb: Junior Tutorial for Thesis Writers in Social Anthropology
Ramyar Rossoukh
This individual tutorial is for social anthropology students intending to write a senior thesis, and is normally undertaken with an advanced graduate student during the second term of junior year. Students will have weekly meetings with the project advisor for the purposes of developing the appropriate background research on theoretical, thematic, regional, and methodological literature relevant to their thesis topic, and fully refining their summer research proposal. The tutorial's final paper will be comprised of a research proposal representing the research undertaken during the semester.
 
Anthro 99za: Senior Thesis Tutorial Workshop
Ramyar Rossoukh
This is a full year research and writing seminar limited to senior honors candidates. The course is intended to provide students with practical guidance and advice during the thesis writing process through structured assignments and peer feedback on work-in-progress. It is intended to supplement not replace faculty thesis advising (with the requirement of consulting regularly with the advisor built into the assignments) and, most importantly, allow students to share their work and experiences with other thesis writers in a collegial and supportive environment. The seminar will be run jointly by the Department of Anthropology Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Writing Tutor. Part two of a two-part series.
 
Anthro 1600: Grounding the Global: Introduction to Social Anthropology
Anya Bernstein
How does social anthropology - the study and representation of contemporary societies through fieldwork and ethnographic writing - critically and constructively intervene in the contemporary world? This course shows the value of anthropological perspective (with its emphases on cultural particularity and everyday experience) for understanding global issues such as urban marginality and resistance; politics and governance of crime; and the intersections between environment and security.
 
Anthro 1645: Exploring Culture Through Film
Julia Yezbick
This course will provide an introduction to the history and theory of documentary and ethnographic film with a focus on the politics of representation and the challenges made to the canonical mainstream. We will discuss the changing paradigms of "ethnographic" film, situating these debates within their historical film contexts and explore how new digital media technologies effect the politics of representation. A variety of cinematic styles from essay films and new media to observational cinema will be screened and discussed.
 
Anthro 1653: Language and Politics
Stephen Scott
This seminar draws on the anthropological study of language and culture to look at the role of language and communication in political formations. The first part of the course develops a general approach to language and politics by focusing on the concept of ideology, more particularly, the relationship between linguistic ideologies and political ideologies. Subsequently, we will use this work to study the political dimensions of three broader semiotic processes: (1) the semiotics of standardization in language and other cultural forms; (2) the semiotics of translation and more broadly the circulation of texts across social and linguistic boundaries; and (3) the semiotics of publicity and the linguistic construction of public authority. Throughout the course, we will see how linguistic and communicative practices and ideologies come to mediate the making of polities, publics, and peoples, and indeed the very forms that politics take, including the very meaning of the political within those forms.
 
Anthro 1785: Law and Violence in Latin America
Ieva Jusionyte
Why does “the rule of law” – the mode of governance to which contemporary democratic states nearly uniformly aspire – fail to stop violence? Conversely, what happens when the law is suspended in the name of maintaining political and social order? This course draws on ethnographic studies and social theory to examine the disturbing, but not paradoxical entanglement between law and violence in Latin America. Building on Tilly’s comparison between state-making and organized crime and Benjamin’s concept of law-making violence, we will explore how different modes of violence - from brutal force to more nuanced structural and symbolic forms of oppression - intersect with policies and practices of governance in the region. Anthropological approaches will be used to analyze the concepts of sovereignty, security, and justice, as we will trace their meanings across disjunctive cultural and legal terrains. Case studies, presented in ethnographic accounts, documentary film, and investigative journalism, will focus on the origins and effects of “the war on drugs” in Colombia; logics and deleterious consequences of security build-up on the U.S.-Mexico border, complicity between gangs and police in Brazil’s favelas; and popular justice in urban Bolivia, among other issues.
 
Anthro 1840: Nonfiction Video Production
Julia Yezbick
This studio course will guide students in the production of short nonfiction video and audio works, culminating in a final project based on students' primary research. Various forms of nonfiction media-making will be explored, such as essay films, new media, phonography, and observational works.
 
Anthro 1955: Technology and Politics in Native North America
Thomas Ozden-Schilling
How have biodiversity protection measures, cultural heritage NGOs, genomic science, and transnational media altered the lives of Indigenous groups in North America in the twenty-first century? Who gets to count as an “Indigenous expert,” anyway? This course will introduce students to a growing body of literature at the intersection of science and technology studies (STS) and the cultural anthropology of contemporary Indigenous politics and experience. Focusing on late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century developments in Canada and the United States, we will explore the historical contexts behind new contests over resource rights, land claims, and environmental disputes, as well as the evolution of new spaces and technologies of Indigenous politics. Readings will survey debates over the status of Indigenous knowledges in legal and academic venues; the embedding of market capitalism within other systems of value; political strategies of environmental and cultural conservation; and new experiments in Indigenous-scientific collaborative governance.
 
Anthro 1957: Laboratory Lives: Scientific Spaces, Selves, Subjects
Stephen Scott
Scientific laboratories have become important cultural sites for making new knowledge about the world, and in doing so, for remaking society, nature, and the relationship between the two. But what are scientific laboratories? How do they produce knowledge? How is the knowledge they produce shaped by nature and society, and how does that knowledge reshape society and nature? This course examines the scientific laboratory from an anthropological perspective, through key ethnographic, historical, and theoretical readings that explore the distinct spaces, selves, and subjects that make up “laboratory life.” The first half of the class introduces the lab as a socio-historically situated cultural space dedicated to producing authoritative knowledge through experimental practices. The second half then takes a deeper look at the scientific selves and various human and nonhuman actors that inhabit these distinct experimental spaces, exploring issues of agency, objectivity, and experimentality as they are pursued and problematized at the lab bench. Course topics include: the emergence of the laboratory sciences and the figure of the scientific self in history; the normative dimensions of the experimental life as a calling and a profession; instruments, inscription practices, and scientific objectivity as both problem and epistemic virtue; the laboratory as a site of fact production, and experimentation as a social and semiotic process; the relationship between scientific labs, nature, and society at large, with comparison to other related spaces of knowledge, from cathedrals to artist’s studios to the psychotherapist’s couch; and finally the role of laboratories, models, and simulations in the politics of knowledge animating debates about global climate change. More generally, scientific laboratories have become important sites for social research in the growing field of science studies, a field to which anthropologists and their ethnographic methods have made important contributions. This course explores these contributions.
 
Anthro 1976: Schools in Culture, Culture in Schools
Bilal Malik
At the macro level, schools are embedded in larger historical and social contexts, including liberalism, sociocultural reproduction (and change), globalization, citizenship and nationalism. And at the micro-level, schools themselves comprise important cultural dynamics and practices. This course examines schools at both the macro- and micro-levels, and also explores the relationships between the two. In so doing, it pursues questions like the following: Are schools sites of social stasis or transformation? Do they create conditions of emancipation or do they support projects of subordination? And how can a theoretically informed, ethnographically-rich understanding of schools help improve educational practice and policy? We will explore these questions by drawing on studies on various dimensions of education (pre-school, K-12, universities, alternate/informal schooling) based both in the United States and abroad..
 
Anthro 1995: Food Culture and Society    
Theodore Bestor
Food is an entirely mundane but simultaneously elaborate aspect of human life, both pragmatic necessity and symbolic statement. This course examines how cultural systems of meaning and belief interact with social institutions and material reality. Lectures, films, discussions, fieldtrips, and ethnographic research assignments focus on the myriad ways in which food shapes (and reflects) identity (national, ethnic, religious, gendered, class-based), and how in turn how social institutions (from domestic units to the global food system) shape and transform food and its meanings, drawing on examples from many parts of the globe, both historically and contemporaneously.
 
AAAS 209b: Africa Rising? New African Encounters   
Jean Comaroff/John Comaroff
In a story titled Africa Rising (2011), The Economist argued that the continent epitomizes both the "transformative promise of [capitalist] growth" and its bleakest dimensions. This workshop will explore Africa's changing place in the world - and the new economies, legalities, socialities, and cultural forms that have arisen there. It will also interrogate the claim that the African present is a foreshadowing of processes beginning to occur elsewhere; that, therefore, it is a productive source of theory about current conditions world-wide. The workshop, open to faculty and students, will meet Mondays, 6:00-8:00. 15 students will be permitted to take it as a course; they will also meet on Mondays, 12:00-1:30. Grades will be based on participation and a term essay.

Social Anthropology Courses Primarily for Graduate Students

Anthro 2628: Ethnographic Methods for Anthropological Research
Ted Bestor
This course will review methods used by contemporary anthropologists conducting ethnographic research. Special focus of the course will be on ethnographic interviewing. Will also consider such topics as use of visual material, mixed methods linking qualitative, quantitative and ethnographic material, and approaches to data analysis. Course will include observational and interviewing exercises.
 
Anthro 2650b: History and Theory of Social Anthropology: Proseminar II
Ajantha Subramanian
Continuation of Anthropology 2650a.
 
Anthro  2690: Middle East Ethnography: Discourse, Politics, and Culture
Steve Caton
The discursive construction of culture and its complex politics are examined in a wide range of ethnographies that have been written recently on countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, and Iran. Among the theoretical topics to be considered are orientalism, colonialism and post-colonialism, nationalism, self, gender, and tribalism.
 
Anthro 2786: Subjectivity: Linking the Psychological to the Political
Byron Good & Alasdair Donald
Course will review cultural/phenomenological, psychological, and political theories of the subject.  Will address critical topics, including political memory/hauntology, postcoloniality and subjectivity, violence and the irrational, and intimacy and sexuality.  The course will include reading and discussing theoretical work and exemplar ethnographic writing, and exercises in psychological interviewing.
 
Anthro 2796: Medical Anthropology: Advanced Topics
Arthur Kleinman/Omar Haque
A review of the latest and most advanced contributions to theory, methods, especially ethnography, findings, as well as policy contributions in medical anthropology.
 
Anthro 2855: Deep China: What Medical Anthropology and Psychiatry Contribute to the Study of China Today
Arthur Kleinman
What do accounts of depression, suicide, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, SARS, HIV/AIDS, starvation and the personal and family trauma of political violence teach us about China and the Chinese over the last few decades?