Graduate and Undergraduate Courses: Autumn 2014

DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY Course Descriptions Autumn 2014 

 ANTH 20405/30405.  Anthropology of Dis/Ability (=MAPS 36900, CHDV 30405, SOSC 36900, HMRT 25210/35210). This seminar undertakes to explore “dis/ability” from an anthropological perspective that recognizes it as a socially constructed concept with implications for our understanding of fundamental issues about culture, society, and individual differences. The course will explore a wide range of theoretical, legal, ethical and policy issues as they relate to the experiences of persons with disabilities, their families, and advocates. At the conclusion of the course, participants will make presentation on fieldwork projects conducted during the quarter.  Morris Fred Thurs 3:00-5:50.

ANTH 20420/30420. Anthropology of Olympic Sport (=MAPS 47501). John MacAloon. TuTh 1:30-3:00

ANTH 21115: Classic Readings in Political Anthropology. Answering the question, “what is the political?” has been one of the major goals of political anthropology since its inception. In order to study politics as a significant aspect of culture and/or society, in other words, the early political anthropologists needed first to figure out just what, in fact, “politics” were. This work of definition, of fixing the meaning of “political life” as such, has gone hand in hand with its description and analysis throughout the history of political anthropology. It is this nexus with which we are, in the first instance, concerned in this course. We will investigate two specific moments in classic political anthropology, each focused around a different delineation of the nature of the political and the consequences thereof. In so doing, we will attempt to understand a few of the premises of “classic” political anthropology and the ways in which these premises can speak to the study of politics in more contemporary academics contexts.                                     

At the same time, we will explore the political stakes of the discipline itself, asking why certain definitions of the political and conceptual issues come into focus in anthropology at certain times. From this perspective, we will examine anthropology’s fraught relationships with colonialism, anti-colonialism, and war structure its analytical concerns and theoretical questions. Here, in other words, we examine not only political anthropology, but anthropology itself as deeply political, in its classic eras as much as in the present. From this perspective we can see that the question of “what is the political” has stakes which go far, far beyond the epistemological, stakes we hope to explore over the coming quarter. Joseph Weiss MonWed 10:30-11:50

21611. Reading Ethnographies: The Gift and the Anti-Gift. The topic of gifts and gifting has been an anthropological cottage industry. Ever since Marcel Mauss delivered his now classic treatment of the gift as a “total service,” the question of what a gift entails and/or constitutes has found its way into broad-reaching discussions about economics and value, kinship, morality and ethics, object studies, gender, witchcraft, the body, gastropolitics, open source software, and the list goes on. One might consider the study of the gift to be one of anthropology’s most important and original contributions to the humanistic sciences. Still and all, rarely does one come across a course devoted solely to a comparative study of ethnographies of gifts and gifting. Perhaps this is because, in the wake of recent philosophical and political commentaries on the Maussian gift, discussions about gifting have become either too conjectural—prefiguring the gift as a philosophical puzzle rather than an issue of ethnographic and historical specificity—or too normative, as if “gifting” could serve as an alternative to the moral dilemmas of global capitalism. The theoretical questions that preoccupy both, however, still burn ethnographic: Can there be such a thing as a “free” gift? Is gifting different from exchange? From reciprocity? How so? Do gifts make slaves? Do they make friends? Do they make enemies? Where is gifting located in various moral and religious cosmologies? Can we maintain a distinction between gifts and commodities? What difference (when? where?) does such a distinction make? This course explores such questions by reading and critically engaging both classic and state-of-the-art ethnographies on gifts and gifting. Theoretically dense texts will be consulted, but our primary goal will be to learn how to read (and conduct!) ethnographies as sources for theory. In pursuing what a gift is (ethnographically), we will also give serious consideration to what it is not—what this course will call, heuristically, the “anti-gift.” Our discussion of anti-gifts will turn on questions of sorcery/witchcraft, parasitism, favors, sharing, borrowing, and stealing—and will also examine ways in which the ethnographic voice itself is not immune to the threats and promises that emerge in its wake. Sean Dowdy. MonWed 3:30-4:50

23085/31630. Identities are not born but made: What has Race to do with Sex (=LACS 25101/35101).  The French Anthropologist Roger Bastide declared “the question regarding ‘race’ always provokes the answer ‘sex.’  Both doctrines are ideological constructs which serve to justify socio-political inequalities by claiming they are in the nature of things and, therefore, innate and inevitable rather than being liable to be contested as political phenomenon. This course will examine the ways in which ideas of modern Western naturalism allow for the existence of these two interrelated doctrines: sexism and racism. Verena Stolcke. TuTh 10:30-11:50

23095. Signs of the Times: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Histories of Indigenous Andean Pasts (=LACS 23095, HIST 26102). From the short stories of literary genius Jorge Luis Borges to prehispanic ceramic “sex pots;” from Inka knotted string registries to the Indian mass suicide which a modern-day native Peruvian reads from colonial documents and ancient tombs, the indigenous Andean past provides fascinating puzzles which require creative reinterpretations from archaeology/historical anthropology, historiography, and ethnohistory. As these examples (all of which appear in course readings) demonstrate, the Andean past and present were constructed and performed through an array of verbal and non-verbal media (e.g., iconography, ritual performance, myth, landscape production, material culture, writing). This interdisciplinary course explores the relationship between indigenous pasts and collective identities in the Andes as they were understood, codified, communicated, and made politically and socially operative from the time of the earliest prehispanic states to the present. As we cover basic Andean history we will consider the ways indigenous Andeans actively constructed their pasts and also interrogate the inferential and interpretive practices used to reconstruct the Andean past in academic disciplines. Specific Andean cases will facilitate addressing questions like: How and why did the people we study produce the materials and texts that we use as data? What signs and symbols worked to construct pasts that fit desired presents? How might they have conceived of what they were doing, how can we know or even come to imagine these conceptions, and how might this change our interpretations? The introduction and application of theories of signification, sign-action (semiosis), performance/performativity, historicity, and temporality will provide students with tools to complement historiographic and archaeological methods, and will allow us to formulate more nuanced and satisfying understandings of the indigenous Andean past.  Zachary Chase. 9:00-10:20 MonWed

23101-23102-23103. Introduction to Latin American Civilization I, II, III. (=HIST 16101-16102-16103, LTAM 16100-16200-16300, LCAS 34600-34700-34800, SOSC 26100-26200-26300) PQ: May be taken in sequence or individually. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This course introduces the history and cultures of Latin America (e.g., Mexico, Central America, South America, Caribbean Islands).  Autumn Quarter examines the origins of civilizations in Latin America with a focus on the political, social, and cultural features of the major pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec.  The quarter concludes with consideration of the Spanish and Portuguese conquest and the construction of colonial societies in Latin America.  Winter Quarter addresses the evolution of colonial societies, the wars of independence, and the emergence of Latin American nation-states in the changing international context of the nineteenth century.  Spring Quarter focuses on the twentieth century, with special emphasis on the challenges of economic, political, and social development in the region.  Ramon Gutierrez/Rosario Granados. MWF 1:30-2:20.

24001-24002-24001. Colonizations I, II, III (=CRPC 24001-24002-24003, HIST 18301-18302-18203, SOSC 24001-24002-24003).  PQ: These course must be taken in Sequence.  This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.  This three-quarter sequence approaches the concept of civilization from an emphasis on cross-cultural/societal connection and exchange.  We explore the dynamics of conquest, slavery, colonialism, and their reciprocal relationships with concepts such as resistance, freedom, and independence, with an eye toward understanding their interlocking role in the making of the modern world.  Themes of slavery, colonization and the making of the Atlantic world are covered in the first quarter.  Modern European and Japanese colonialism in Asia and the Pacific is the theme of the second quarter.  The third quarter considers the processes and consequences of decolonization both in the newly independent nations and the former colonial powers.  FG Richard. TuTh 9:00-10:20;  S. Palmie. TuTh 12:00-1:20

24320/35110  Cultural Psychology (=CHDV 21000/31000, PSYC 2300/33000, HDCP 41050, GNDR 21001/31001, AMER 33000) There is a substantial portion of the psychological nature of human beings that is neither homogeneous nor fixed across time and space.  At the heart of the discipline of cultural psychology is the tenet of psychological pluralism, which states that the study of "normal" psychology is the study of multiple psychologies and not just the study of a single or uniform fundamental psychology for all peoples of the world.  Research findings in cultural psychology thus raise provocative questions about the integrity and value of alternative forms of subjectivity across cultural groups.  In this course we analyze the concept of "culture" and examine ethnic and cross-cultural variations in mental functioning with special attention to the cultural psychology of emotions, self, moral judgment, categorization and reasoning.  R. ShwederTuTh 3:00-4:20

24515/34515. Exhibiting Cultures: History, Theory and Practice of Museum Anthropology.  Since the outset of scientific displays in the 19th century, museums have constituted fundamental allies of anthropological thought. As the most trustworthy repositories of ethnographic, archaeological, historical or aesthetic data in Western scholarly tradition, museums represent complex contexts of remembrance and cultural exchange within which individual or national identities can be formed, performed or transformed at a global level. From a postcolonial perspective, however, museums tend to be portrayed in a less benign light, as places of cultural friction within which racist, ethnocentric and authoritarian discourses can be actively reproduced. This seminar course will look into classic and current literature examining the history, politics and practice of exhibiting cultures in museum contexts in order to sensitize students to the ethical issues at stake when it comes to representing otherness, past and present. In addition, students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the many challenges involved in the planning, designing, and mounting of a real curatorial project to be displayed on the University of Chicago campus.  Filipe Gaitan-Ammann. TuTh 10:30-11:50

25020. Anthropological Readings in Contemporary Islam. Hussein Agrama. Tues 1:30-4:20

25105. Local Bodies, Global Capital: Speculative, Scientific and Spectral Economies (INST 27501). The project of this class is to examine the relationship between global capital and local bodies, or put differently to look at the implications of economic forms for particular people’s experience and forms of bodily existence. The class will read divergently critical theories of “capitalism” and some historically-situated field materials, to ask how critical insights travel across speculative, scientific, and, spectral – occult or uncanny – domains of economic practice. The class will examine some local sites of multinational capital investment, production, and circulation: from factory floors to marketplaces, from transnational scientific research to pharmaceutical marketing. In order to better grasp local bodies, the class will pay special attention to biomedical and pharmaceutical industries that emerged as a major locus of global capital investment, as well as read for the existential and bodily complaints voiced around the globe in relation to the shared economic conditions. By examining comparatively some particular health disorders, incidents, and interventions, the class will ask: How are ways of being, feeling, and thinking determined by the abstract global power of capital? How are local bodies and economies implicated in the global dynamics? How can we speak critically of “global capital” in the face of its contingent configurations: scientific, spectral and speculative? How do local bodies and subjectivities negotiate temporalities, commodities, forms of knowledge, domination, mediation and discipline that are associated with the dynamics of global capital? Can we grasp a shared global condition which is capitalism from the vantage point of some particular local lives? Larisa Jasarevic. TuTh 3:00-4:20.

25204.  Economies of Gender (=GNSE 25204). This course traces intersections between gender and economy with particular focus on the transformations associated with globalization and capitalist expansion.  Part of our mission is to explore how capitalism has shaped conceptions, practices, and performance of gender in particular places.  At the same time, we will also ask how gender, in turn, is mobilized in larger social imaginaries that contribute to and mediate global capitalist processes.  After outlining key theoretical concerns, we will explore these issues through ethnographic and historical case studies rooted in the particulars of everyday life.  Topics include the global assembly line, affective labor, the commodification of language and the body, fashion and style, transformations in family relationships, and new intimacies. Susanne Cohen. MonWed 9:30-10:50

ANTH 25305/35305. Anthropology of Food and Cuisine. What is it about macaroni and cheese that comforts American children?  How can obesity and anorexia both be “epidemics”? What happens socially when a host feeds a guest, or when one of us picks up the check?  Are some foods naturally sexy, for both/all genders?  Did the tomatoes of my childhood really taste better?  Is refined sugar a capitalist conspiracy? Is there anything universal about attributions of clean or dirty, delicious or disgusting?

             Food is a gigantic topic, and anthropological analysis has not made it simpler or more manageable.  Even if we confine our attention to the findings of socio-cultural anthropology, there are far too many interesting questions on the table for one short course.  Practices of producing, exchanging, preparing, managing, consuming, and disposing of food are articulated with every aspect of human existence; faced with a smorgasbord of writing about cuisines, agricultures, hunger, trucking, cannibalisms, traditions, taboos, identities, memories, rituals, preservatives, pollutions, recipes, efficacies, refrigeration, dangers, evils, comforts, transgressions and pleasures, in this course we will only be able to nibble at the feast.                           

Readings to be shared by the class will fall into the following groupings:
1)  Classic anthropological analyses.
2)  Thinking about society by reading food practices.
3) History and memory through food experiences.
4)  Embodiment, materiality, and the gastronomic unconscious.
5)  Playful figurations and dark visions.

In addition to writing a term paper and providing occasional commentary on the Chalk site, every student will develop and pursue a research project to share with the class in a brief and artful presentation. There will be a slight bias toward the social life of food in China in the readings selected and projects suggested.   Judith Farquhar. TuTh 9:00-10:20.

25401/35401  Consumption (=SOCI 20150/30150). The modern period was associated with industrial production, class society, rationalization, disenchantment, the welfare state, and the belief in salvation by society. We start with the question, “Why do we want things?”  We then discuss theories and empirical studies that focus on consumption and identity formation, on shopping and the consumption of symbolic signs, on consumption as linked to the re-enchantment of modernity, as a process of distinction and of the globalization of frames, and as related to time and information.  This course is built around approaches that complement the “productionist” focus of the social sciences.K. Knorr Cetina. Tues 9:00-11:50.

 26710/36710.  Ancient Landscapes-1: GIS and Landscapes (=NEAA 20061/30061; GEOG 25400/35400; ANST 22600).  This course, along with Ancient Landscapes II in the Winter Quarter, will expose students to numerous spatial theories underlying studies of ancient and historical landscapes.  It will also provide students with practical experience in the methodologies and GIS tools that can be used to collect and analyze spatial data within these landscapes.  As such it is relevant to anyone who wishes to analyze data about and within the landscape in their spatial and temporal contexts.  The course has both a classroom and a laboratory component.  The classroom component consists of lectures and discussions while the laboratory component will allow students to get involved applying the concepts discussed in class through the hands on use of GIS software.  That said, the course is not a simple introduction to GIS, but rather enables students to use GIS software for advanced analysis of landscapes. Emily Hammer. TuTh 10:30-11:50.

 27135. Sem: Theories and Practices of Communicating Politically. A linguistic anthropological consideration of how communication mediates political processes, with the ultimate goal of focusing reflexively on those of mass participatory democracies.  Readings will range over primary materials as well as theorists of the so-called public sphere (Habermas; Warner; Fraser); ethnographic accounts of the texture of political processes (Brenneis; Caton); and rhetorical, literary, and pragmatic analyses of Western, especially Anglo-American, moments of political communication (Gustfson; Looby; Campbell & Jamieson).  Of two class meetings per week, generally one will be devoted to the instructor’s exposition, the second to student presentations and discussion in seminar format.  Among other things, a course research paper will be required. Michael Silverstein. TuTh 9:00-10:20

29700. Readings in Anthropology. PQ: Consent of instructor and program chairman. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. At the discretion of the instructor, this course is available for either Pass or letter grading. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

29900. Preparation of Bachelor's Essay. PQ: Consent of instructor and program chairman. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. At the discretion of the instructor, this course is available for either Pass or letter grading. For honors requirements, consult the honors section under Program Requirements. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

32305. Introduction to Science Studies (=CHSS 32000, SOCI 40137, HIST 56800). This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of science, medicine, and technology.  During the twentieth century, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and anthropologists raised original, interesting, and consequential questions about the sciences.  Often their work drew on and responded to each other, and, taken together, their various approaches came to constitute a field, “science studies.”  The course furnishes an initial guide to this field.  Students will not only encounter some of its principal concepts, approaches and findings, but will also get a chance to apply science-studies perspectives themselves by performing a fieldwork project.  Among the topics we may examine are: the sociology of scientific knowledge and its applications; actor-network theories of science; constructivism and the history of science; and efforts to apply science studies approaches beyond the sciences themselves.  Karin Knorr/Adrian Johns. Wed. 9:30-12:20

34000. Introduction to Chicago Anthropology. PQ:  Open only to first-year Anthropology graduate students. An introduction to the current faculty of the Department of Anthropology, their intellectual genealogies, and their current work.  Staff. WedFri+some Mondays  12-1:20. Haskell 315.

34101-02. Development of Social/Cultural Theory-I (200 units) PQ: Open only to first-year Anthropology graduate students. Systems 1 is designed to introduce you to the intellectual context of the emergence of anthropology as a professional scholarly discipline, as well as some of the broader theoretical concerns that have conditioned its development. The class presents anthropology as a response to the experience of global modernity – that is to say, the historical conjuncture of, on the one hand, the rise of industrialized mass societies in ‘the West’ and, on the other hand, the consolidation of colonialism around the world. This historical conjuncture lends urgency, as we will see, to a series of questions or themes, such as:

  • How can universalizing ideals be reconciled with an acknowledgment of sociocultural difference?
  • Is there such a thing as ‘human nature’? Why does the question matter? Why would we want to be able to say, for example, that human beings are inherently selfish or fundamentally compassionate?
  • Does it make sense to speak in terms of a unified world history? If it does, does it move toward freedom and, if so, by what means?
  • What holds societies together in an age of mass anonymity, alienation, and specialization?
  • What makes power and domination legitimate? What makes them illegitimate?
  • What are the respective roles of ‘reason,’ ‘passion’ and ‘desire’ in social life? Why should we imagine them as separate in the first place?
  • What is the relation between formal equality and substantive inequality in social life, e.g. when human beings encounter each other as commodities or as citizens?
  • What is the relation between ‘culture’ and ‘ideology’ in a mass mediated world? What gives murderous ideologies (e.g. fascism, racism) their curious power?

Many of these themes run right through the course; a few are more specifically located. Some may at times turn out to be subsets of others.   W. Mazzarella. TuTh 9:00-11:50  Wilder House.

35005. Classic Theories of Religion (AASR 32900, HREL 32900) Bruce Lincoln. MW 1:30-2:50

37201. Language in Culture-1 (LING 3110, Psych 47001).  Must be taken in sequence.  This is a two-quarter sequence to introduce some of the central theoretical issues involved in the semiotic, cognitive and sociopolitical study of language in its contexts of communicative “use.”  By developing and using semiotic concepts, the first quarter concentrates on two major problems that organize a vast literature and diverse theoretical approaches.  The first problem is to understand interpersonal communication is carried on in-and-by the medium of language.   Such communication manifests itself both in an orderly, or at least ‘(non-in)coherent’ unfolding of information and in the structured and culturally consequential social action that is accomplished in-and-by that unfolding.  The second problem is to understand how language is a medium of and factor in so-called ‘conceptual’ representations or mental “knowledge.”  There are various sources of such knowledge ‘coded’ in the forms of language, and this diversity reveals the modes of semiosis of which language is composed at its various planes.  We concentrate in particular on the semiotic characterization of dialectially emergent “cultural knowledge” or “cultural conceptualization,”  the nature of which is a current research frontier between social and cognitive sciences, between modernist and post-modernist humanities. Michael Silverstein. WedFri 9:30-11:30

39001. Theory and Method in Archaeology. PQ: Required for first-and second-year graduate students in archaeology; open to undergraduates and other graduate students only with consent of instructor; this course carries 200 units of credit.  This course provides an intensive critical orientation to the logics of archaeological interpretation and aesthetics of archaeographic representation from the 19th century to the present.  Students will engage in close readings of canonical theoretical texts in order to track the major philosophical shifts in the discipline from its antiquarian origins through postmodernity.  Simultaneously, we will examine the reports from a group of landmark research projects in order to document how theory was put into practice.  In addition to lectures and discussion sessions, students will conduct a series of debates intended to expose the central tenets underlying the primary paradigm shifts of the last century. François Richard.  TuTh 1:30-4:20

40805.  New Perspectives on Vulnerability (=CHDV 41160, GNSE 41160). Vulnerability is undergoing re-evaluation in philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities. From having been perceived as a condition from which subjects should be defended, rescued or liberated, vulnerability has increasingly come to be theorized as a position and experience that confronts us with the limits of understanding, empathy, morality and theory. This course will read work that attempts to engage with vulnerability not so much as something to be overcome, but, rather, as a challenge that can guide us towards new ways of thinking about political life and engaging with the world. Course literature includes Giorgio Agamben’s work on “bare life”,  Judith Butler’s writing on precarious life, Jacques Derrida’s writings on animals, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s book on staring, Martha Nussbaum’s book on “frontiers of justice” and Bryan Turner’s work on vulnerability and human rights.  Don Kulick. Thurs 12:00-2:50

ANTH 46420. Craft Production in Early China (=EALC 46030, ArtH 46030). This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of craft production in Early China and other ancient civilizations by adopting perspectives developed in anthropological archaeology, history, and art history.  The course will be divided into two parts, with the first devoted to reading anthropological literature and case studies of craft production in ancient civilizations.  The second half of the course is devoted to the analysis of Chinese data, which range from pottery making and bronze casting to the making of Qin terra cotta soldiers.  Students are expected to become familiar with prevalent theoretical discussion in anthropology and are encouraged to apply, adopt or revise them in order to analyze examples of craft production of their own choice of geographic area.  Yung-ti LI, Thurs 1:30-4:20.

ANTH 47605. Advanced Topics: Language, Culture, Thought. John Lucy. Wed. 1:30-4:20.

ANTH 55520. Anthropology of Liberalism. Hussein Agrama. Wed 1:30-4:20.

ANTH 57305. Linguistic Projects, Technologies and Techniques (LING 57305). While language often appears to be a fundamentally natural phenomenon, scholars have documented a long history of social interventions into language shaped by particular ideological assumptions and targeted at particular aims. This seminar considers the politics and semiotics of linguistic intervention via theory, ethnography, and linguistic anthropology. Questions to be considered include: How do linguistic projects reflect larger modern, scientific, and state projects? What does it mean to technologize speech, and how do speech technologies become tethered to particular ends and imagined trajectories of action?  What are the unexpected consequences of attempts to control meanings, performances, and outcomes? What happens when projects and techniques circulate across social, political, and cultural boundaries?  Cases will be drawn from a wide variety of social domains including applications of linguistics, literacy movements, politics, rhetoric, and propaganda, communication technologies, psychology, and management. Susanne Cohen. Thursdays, 10:30-1:20