Learn more about the graduate program in Anthropology here.

2023–2024 Graduate Course Schedule

ANTH 33312/23312 Dataset Instr.: Alice Yao

This course presents the basic statistical methodology used in many fields of application. It emphasizes statistical concepts and computational methods standard to the social sciences. However, the fragmentary nature of data excavated from archaeological contexts and biological anthropology also means that the quantification of ancient human activities presents different problems that require a critical understanding of conventional methods. This course will be useful to students who seek to gain an understanding of the use of statistics as well as the development of research design in archaeology and bioarchaeology.

ANTH 34000 Intro to Chicago Anthropology Instr.: François Richard

An introduction to the current faculty of the Department of Anthropology, their intellectual genealogies, and their current work.

ANTH 34101 Development of Social Cultural Theory Instr.: Michael Fisch

Systems 1 is designed to introduce students to the intellectual and historical context of the emergence of anthropology as a professional scholarly discipline. The class asks after the conditions of inquiry - at once conceptual and socio-political - that shaped the discipline in its early formulation, but always with an eye toward our understanding of it today. This will require that we tack back and forth between considering the internal logics of an emergent social theoretical inquiry - what are its views of the world, humanity’s relationship to it, and to what extent are we able to grasp and explore it - and the nature of these commitments in light of the rise of industrialized mass societies in ‘the West’ and, on the other hand, the consolidation of colonialism around the world

ANTH 34220 Breathing Machines Instr.: Kaushik Sunder Rajan

In his seminal ethnography Ecologies of Comparison, anthropologist Timothy Choy asks what it would mean for breathers of the world to conspire together. This seminar builds upon Choy’s provocation to ask: what would it entail to build mechanisms for collective breathing by articulating scholarly research and teaching practices in the university to practitioners in multiple fields (such as music, poetry, biomedicine, or law) through performance?

We ask this question through the vehicle of the breathing machine. We define breathing machines as forms and forums for the building and expression of collectivity through the act of conspiring together around shared sets of research questions and theoretical / praxiological / poetic / literary writing or artistic and musical creation. The class will bring in guest lecturers and performers who work in multiple fields, diasporically and transnationally. Our collaborations will primarily link between the United States and South Africa, with elements connecting to activities and practitioners in Latin America (especially Colombia). This will be attached to anthropological, literary, philosophical and political readings, in order to imagine what multimodal and multisituated theory and praxis might mean for our times, across place and vocation. Students will construct their own breathing machines, and the class will serve as an incubator for the design of conspiratorial curricula, performances and collaborative prototypes.

ANTH 36311 Aspirations of Justice Instr.: Kaushik Sunder Rajan

This class thinks through questions of what justice means, what justice promises, what justice betrays, and what possibilities for politics are opened by aspirations of justice at moments of radical rupture. It does so through a focus on critical conceptual terms that also become the frameworks for praxis and institutionalization after war/violence/trauma/revolution/colonialism/slavery/casteism: terms such as transition, transformation, restoration, reconstruction, and repair. The readings will be comparative but grounded out of South Africa’s experience of transition from apartheid, a process that remains frictioned, fractured and far from finished. At the core of the class are two concerns. First: how does one think about non- retributive forms of justice, and what aporias of forgiveness lie at their core? Second, how do these imaginaries and forms of justice get constituted and instituted, out of different histories of foundational violence, different transitional processes, at different moments in time? How, in the process, do histories themselves get rewritten through a process of rewriting wrongs?

ANTH 37201 Language in Culture 1 Instr.: Susan Gal

The first quarter of the two-quarter Language in Culture sequence introduces a number of analytic concepts developed out of the study of “language” and its limits. We begin with the study of “interaction order” in its multifunctional complexity, teasing out its constitution through the real-time unfolding of indexical (pragmatic) and reflexive (metapragmatic) signs/functions as coherent “text.” We use this attention to the dialectics of indexicality and its various implications to investigate various problematics in the philosophy of language (reference, performativity), linguistics (poetics, grammatical sense, variation, register), and sociocultural anthropology (racialization, relativity, subjectivity/identity, temporality, institutionality).

ANTH 43700 Marx, Weber, Veblen: Genealogies of Global Capital Instr.: John Kelly

After quick review or Marxs, this course considers other possibilities. It focuses on critical comparative reading of Thorstein Veblen’s theory of the late modern “new order” and Max Weber’s comparative sociology, but will also read widely among other authors, including Simmel, Sombart, Mahan, Tolstoy and Gandhi. Questions to engage will include: relations between capital, the state, and military force (between means of production and means of coercion); commerce in Asia before European colonialism and the rise of colonial plantations and monopoly trading companies; types of capital, the rise and spread of joint-stock companies, stock markets, and capitalist corporations; the “new order,” decolonization and the nation-state.

ANTH 52132 Advanced Reading Seminar: Science/Fiction/Theory Instr.: Hussein Agrama

Science fiction has enjoyed an extraordinary and still growing resurgence in popularity over the last two decades - through literature, film, video games, and even universities, where it is the subject of ever more courses being taught. Why has science fiction become so popular? Does it express the anxieties of a way of life that can’t be sustained, is in decline, and might soon end, in the face of intractable war, lurching financial crises, recurrent pandemics, and unchecked climate change? Does it speak to the senses of radical hope and irreparable despair about the future that seem to characterize our time? If so, then science fiction today is grappling with traditionally theological themes: fate and finitude, immortality and the nature of divinity, the place of the human within a cosmic scale, and the possibilities for redemption and messianic rupture. This advanced seminar will explore these themes by pairing sci-fi literature and film with readings of philosophy, ethnography, science and social theory. Throughout, we will ask how science fiction’s propensity toward the theological allows it to grapple with the unique forms of hope and despair in our time.

ANTH 53818 Radical Therapies Instr.: William Mazzarella/Aaron Schuster/Imogen Stidworthy

In a context of heightened awareness of global crises and injustice on many fronts—covid, the war in Ukraine, energy, economy, climate change, systemic racism—we see a widespread preoccupation with trauma and healing. In academia and the arts, projects about trauma and care proliferate.

This course will examine a selection of therapeutic practices: in terms of how they shape interpersonal dynamics, in and beyond self-other, subject-object relations, and of how they challenge, or rethink, the very notions of therapy, care and cure. We bring three distinct perspectives to these issues, from anthropology, philosophy, and artistic practice.

Radical Therapies comes out of our respective fascinations and engagements with therapeutic practices, from the margins of clinical frameworks to the distinctly left field, sometimes at the limits of plausibility. We will be working with texts, films and embedded, often embodied perspectives gleaned from fieldwork, our own and others’. Questions we will be addressing include: the meaning of care and cure; the dynamics of what psychoanalysis calls transference, the “telepathic” entanglement of agents in the therapeutic relation; the embeddedness of therapy in social and political contexts; and the aesthetics of the therapeutic relationship, in the sense of how therapies aim to make something perceptible through different modes of thought, perception and sensation.

ANTH 57301 Interaction: Event, Experience, Meaning Instr.: Kamala Russell

Interaction -- communicative contact -- is an unavoidable part of both social existence and the activities of social scientists who study such existences. Linguistic anthropology has operationalized the study of interaction to describe both the interpenetration of linguistic systems and context, and the dynamic interrelation between macro-social processes and micro-interactional moves: language-in-use is consequential social action. Yet, such events of communicative contact remain in excess of both what is said in them and what is said about them. The many dimensions of interactions include and exceed the study of grammar, pragmatics, gesture, health, embodied action, trauma, perception, surveillance, ethics, vulnerability, affect, space and urbanism, platforms and media channels, power and violence, identification, eros, and the list goes on. In this course, we will consider what affordances of interaction linguists and anthropologists have exploited, sought to record, and ignored. How can we (and should we?) constitute interaction as a particular domain of study?

In this course we will survey key theories and importantly also methodologies in anthropology, psychology, and linguistics for understanding, scribing, and participating (ethnographically) in interaction. We will consider the political, epistemological, ontological, and ethical stakes of how we understand interaction as a dynamic event.

ANTH 59100 Advanced Reading Seminar: (Strange) Science and Secularity Instr.: Hussein Agrama

Modern science has often been seen as nearly synonymous with secularity. While the story of their interdependence is certainly more complicated, it is true that a number of contemporary sciences historically consolidated their disciplinary status partly through a process of divesting themselves of any seemingly religious or mystical resonances. That has subsequently shaped the kinds of questions they can ask, and the ways they can pursue answers to them. But what happens when some of the more recent advances in various sciences begin to undermine the presumed secular presuppositions on which they stand? What new possibilities does this open up for the kinds of explorations that can be conducted? That is, what happens when science and secularity, for so long interdependent, begin to part ways? Is an “asecular” science even possible, and how might some of these stranger scientific results help us imagine what it might look like?

In this advanced reading seminar we explore these questions by looking at some recent scientific advances through the context of historical, philosophical and ethnographic texts.

ANTH 32146 Ecology & Governments in Israel and the Middle East Instr.: Michael Fisch

Ecological governance has emerged as an aspirational concept in recent years in political science, philosophy, and anthropology in response to concerns over the increasing likelihood of an unprecedented global ecological crisis as a result of human driven climate change. This course will trace the conceptual genealogy of ecological governance in Western and Eastern political theory and environmental history as it explores the political ecologies of Israel and the Middle East. In so doing, the course embarks from the assertion that environmental justice and the struggle for justice overall are inseparable challenges. Of central concern will be to understand how Israel’s politics, culture, and history technological development together with its particular environmental conditions provide conceptual and methodological interventions into current and historical articulations of ecological governance. Note: Enrollment in this class is by consent only. Please request via the enrollment site.

ANTH 34202 Systems 2: The Development of Social and Cultural Theory Instr.: François Richard

Systems II examines the development of key concepts in anthropology since the discipline’s institutionalization in the early 20th century. The course takes a genealogical approach to “anthropological theory” by tracking the formation, uptake and entailments of different problem-spaces in anthropology-that is, the distinct complex of questions-and-answers around key themes and problems, which animate the discipline’s various modes of knowledge production. The course takes seriously the interplay of ethnographic inquiry and theory building and of professional practice and public engagement in the development of anthropology as a modern (and postmodern) discipline. While many of the concepts explored here will be recognizable as part of the “bread and butter” of anthropological research, the course is less interested in providing a comprehensive survey of 20th century anthropology than in interrogating the discipline’s signature style of theory building through ethnographic engagements in “the field.” We start from the premise that anthropological theory is a dialectical practice through which realist arguments about the historical world(s)-and the human’s place in it-are honed through empirical encounters and pushback from anthropology’s ethnographic subjects. Ultimately, the course hopes to track how anthropological ways of knowing intervene in the world through the making and stabilizing of particular lived concepts; that is, we ask after theory’s historical formation.

ANTH 35500/32203 Anthropology of Development Instr.: Alan Kolata

This course applies anthropological understanding to development programs in “underdeveloped” and “developing” societies. Topics include the history of development; different perspectives on development within the world system; the role of principal development agencies and their use of anthropological knowledge; the problems of ethnographic field inquiry in the context of development programs; the social organization and politics of underdevelopment; the culture construction of “well-being;” economic, social, and political critiques of development; population, consumption, and the environment; and the future of development.

ANTH 41200 Anthropology of History Instr.: Stephan Palmié

Anthropologists have long been concerned with the temporal dimension of human culture and sociality, but, until fairly recently (and with significant exceptions), have rarely gone beyond processual modeling. This has dramatically changed. Anthropologists have played a prominent role in the so-called “historic turn in the social sciences”, acknowledging and theorizing the historical subjectivities and historical agency of the ethnographic “other”, but also problematizing the historicity of the ethnographic endeavor itself. The last decades have not only seen a proliferation of empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated historical ethnographies, but also a decisive move towards ethnographies of the historical imagination. Taking its point of departure from a concise introduction to the genealogy of the trope of “historicity” in anthropological discourse, this course aims to explore the possibilities of an anthropology of historical consciousness, discourse and praxis – i.e. the ways in which human groups select, represent, give meaning to, and strategically manipulate constructions of the past. In this, our discussion will not just focus on non-western forms of historical knowledge, but include the analysis of western disciplined historiography as a culturally and historically specific form of promulgating conceptions of the past and its relation to the present.

ANTH 45620 The Anthropology of Migration and Travel Instr.: Julie Chu

This is NOT a survey course about the current state of “the Anthropology of Migration and Travel.” Rather it considers how this field and its objects of study might bere/built out of the fragments of an eclectic group of scholarly interventions, only some of which claimed to have anything to do with the study of “migration” or “travel” as we have come to know it (read: push-pull, territorial nation-based, rights-oriented). The course proceeds by examining constituent elements or basic techniques for how one might go about assembling something that could pass as part of an “Anthropology of Migration and Travel” without falling into its various disabling conceptual traps (read: see read #1). The goal is to provide a kind of DIY kit for dreaming up and animating a future object of study that could shake up the field to your liking and likeness (hint: new cyborgs and monsters are welcome...). Readings will consist of a mix of ethnography, history and theory and be organized into three parts: 1) Routes, Zones, Contact, 2) Planes, Trains, Automobiles and 3) Stranger, Guest, Enemy. The final session will be run as a design lab for discussing student works-in-progress.

ANTH 52200 Proposal Preparation Instr.: Susan Gal

This is a required course for (primarily third-year) Anthropology graduate students who are preparing field work grant applications and dissertation proposals during the current academic year. The course is taken pass/fail and provides each student the opportunity to present a pre-circulated draft research proposal for discussion and critique. The course focuses on preparation and discussion of students’ draft proposals.

ANTH 52715 Anticipatory Knowledge Instr.: Joseph Masco

Prognosis, prediction, forecasting, risk, threat – we live at a time of proliferating expert anticipatory futures. This seminar explores how the future is brought into the present as a means of establishing new modes of governance. It focuses on the historical evolution of expert regimes from closed world systems to emerging forms, tracking how notions of danger (marked as crisis, disaster, and catastrophe) index and invade the present. The seminar approaches expert futurism as a vehicle for thinking through complex systems, ethics and knowledge production, and the role of the imaginary in security institutions (crossing techno-scientific, military, financial, environmental, and health domains).

ANTH 55601 Exposure: Visibility, Vulnerability, Presence Instr.: Kamala Russell

Anthropology, geography, and political theory increasingly point to the importance of conditions of exposure in understanding contemporary forms of life, governance, economy, and sociality. Complicating a self- contained, self-narrating, and agentive subject, these perspectives argue that to understand contemporary life, we need to track how subjects are made vulnerable to or permeable by their environments, tracking and surveillance, and relations with others, in ways perhaps orthogonal to problems of recognition. At once a historical and political intervention, these literatures pursue environmental and racial justice/flourishing, as well as a new ethics of communal life by exploring forgotten, necessary, and unequal ways in which selves, bodies, skins, and psyches, are exposed.

In this course, we will consider the dimensions of exposure as a concept through nascent literatures in three areas where exposure functions differently and across different scales: 1) environmental toxicity and breath, 2) surveillance and epidermalization, and 3) interpersonal relations. Across these three cases, exposure forces us to think about time, space, self, power, and communication in ways pregnable by and embedded in historical- economic, environmental, spatial, racial, affective, and pathogenic forces and fields. What do these struggles say about contemporary ethics and politics of loving, knowing, being seen, housing and being healthy?

ANTH 56500 The Archaeology of Colonialism Instr.: Michael Dietler

This seminar is a comparative exploration of archaeological approaches to colonial encounters. It employs temporally and geographically diverse case studies from the archaeological and historical literature situated within a critical discussion of colonial and postcolonial theory. The course seeks to evaluate the potential contribution of archaeology both in providing a unique window of access to precapitalist forms of colonial interaction and imperial domination and in augmenting historical studies of the expansion of the European world-system. Methodological strategies, problems, and limitations are also explored.

ANTH 58600 Social Theory of the City Instr.: Alan Kolata

This graduate seminar explores various historical, sociological and anthropological theories of cities. The course analyzes major theoretical frameworks concerned with urban forms, institutions and experience as well as particular instances of city development from pre-modern to contemporary periods. The seminar will consist of initial orienting lectures, discussion of selected texts concerned with social theories of the city, and presentation of research projects by class participants.

ANTH 39000 Archaeological Theory and Archaeology Instr.: Michael Dietler

This course offers a critical exploration of some major theoretical and methodological trends in the knowledge- producing endeavor that has come to be called “archaeology”, set within a socio-historical examination of its development. In an effort to encourage critical comparative reflection and avoid the sort of facile “presentist” historical narratives that often imbue discussions of theory with a kind of evolutionary teleology, the course readings about major theoretical and methodological issues and debates are intentionally not arranged in chronological periods.

ANTH 41210/24304 Talking with Animals Instr.: E. Summerson Carr

All over the world, children have long learned the lessons of what it means to be human from what animals tell them. In addition to ventriloquizing non-human animals to socialize human ones, projects for facilitating cross-species communication abound. These projects reveal not only how people imagine their relations with other animals, but also how we conceive of the possibilities and limits of sign systems. And while many focus on talking with animals, others suggest that animals are effective communicators precisely because they lack language, raising fascinating questions about ideologies of (im)mediation. As we learn how Peruvian kids talk with llamas and American cowboys whisper to wild horses, and explore what spiders say and how apes read the human keepers who teach them to sign, this class explores how distinctions are drawn between human and non-human animals, as well as attempts to cross those divides through communicative forms and technologies.

ANTH 41405/24905 The Figuration of Social Thought and Action Instr.: Jim Fernandez

No course description.

ANTH 42003 Modes of Inquiry 1: Ethnographic Innovations Instr.: Julie Chu

This course provides a critical introduction to the methods of anthropology, paying special attention to topic formation, deployment of theoretical resources, techniques of engagement in “fields,” and the politics and ethics of fieldwork and ethnographic knowledge production. Our approach will combine readings in critical anthropology relevant to methodological practice with workshop-style demonstrations of particular techniques for gathering and analyzing field material. The limits and powers of ethnography (broadly construed) will be explored through exploratory engagement with students’ ongoing projects and a few examples of anthropological writing. This course is intended to help students develop the tools needed to develop their own research objects and strategies while reflecting critically on anthropology as a practice.

ANTH 51410 Professional Vision Instru.: E. Summerson Carr

No course description.

ANTH 55973 Advanced Readings in Technoscience Instr.: Joseph Masco

This seminar explores recent work in science and technology studies and interrogates the complex modes of writing (ethnographic, historical, analytic) that are productive for engaging complex technoscientific objects today. Participants will interrogate not only the formal terms of knowledge production but also the world- making (and often, world-breaking) aspects of technoscientific revolution.

ANTH Human Rights (Study Abroad – Paris) Instr.: Kaushik Sunder Rajan

No course description.

ANTH 58515 Styles Instr.: Alice Yao

Style is a paradoxical concept that seemingly defies description and interpretation. It is shared and individual, timeless yet impossibly mutable. Style also inspires and limits, defining traditional and novel forms of human expression. This course considers how the different stakes of representation are worked through the analytic of style. Surveying theoretical perspectives across several disciplines -- anthropology, art history, architecture, and technology studies -- this course reconsiders the conceptual

ANTH 58717 Asia’s 1960s: From Bandung to Cultural Revolution Instr.: John Kelly

By the 1960s, most of Asia was making its own history, from Nehruvian socialism in India to Indonesia’s Pancasila Republic to China’s communism, all under the aegis of the Bandung Conference’s declaration of Peaceful Co-Existence; in Malaysia Lee Kuan Yew and others pondered the most rational path. But things changed. The “Cultural Revolution” in China. The “year of living dangerously” and then “the killing season” in Indonesia. The “Cold Store” arrests, riots and then partition of Malaysia and Singapore. Before them all, in 1962, a Sino-Indian war. The episodes of violence are usually studied separately, or alternatively, they are depicted as events in Cold War with the West. And local complexities and global geopolitics are clearly both important. But can we also look at crosscurrents? At the effects such events and locations have on each other? New Deals can influence, revolutions spread. But what about violence? Beyond mimicry, emulation, pirating, enlistment, etc., can traumatic violence be a response to events elsewhere? And are there other, positive dialogical responses to traumas? Along with local and global chains of cause and effect, can we track crosscurrents between utopia, trauma, and reason in action?

We will read social theory only when we need to, and brief passages at that. Yet this will be an excellent course for students of social theory, or really anyone seeking to decide between party of order and party of struggle. Do revolutions exist? Was that a revolution in China? Or, for those attracted to order, is socialism better off with or without capitalism? The state with or without self-determination?

This course seeks insights that follow from resituating cold war, and sometimes explosive violence, within decolonizing Asia, rather than Asia within the West’s “Cold War.” And more. From the 1955 Bandung Conference (and Chinese bombings of Tibetan monasteries, and the first elected legislature in Singapore) we trace deliberate efforts to change “where we stand, we the people of Asia, in this world of ours today” (paraphrasing Ali Sastroamidjojo, planning for Bandung, 1954). Reconsidering American forays into Indo- China, Indonesia’s “Confrontasi” with Malaysia, and Rajaratnam’s 1971 announcement, with Singapore’s emergence, of the “global city,” we trace cross-currents and local initiatives in the successful new social forms – socialisms, globalized capitalisms, both together – along with the violence extremes in Asia’s 1960s. Beyond determination of either difference or consolidation, beyond either domination or resistance, historical ethnography here pursues new kinds of questions. Along the lines of Levi-Strauss’s time-tested dictum, we seek not to simplify but to learn how to make complexity more intelligible – and with much more interest than he had in political order and struggle. Can we, perhaps, even begin to grasp the historical relationship, murky but undeniable, between Japan’s one-time Co-Prosperity Sphere and China’s new Belt-and-Road Initiative? Is it clearest in Indonesia? Contemplating crosscurrents in politics, and the epic violence of Asia’s 1960s, and seeking a better understanding of political violence generally, might even be important right now.