Featured Courses: Spring 2017

AN 285 Coping with Crisis in Contemporary Africa

Africa means more than crisis, but it has lately had its share. This course explores the strategies and experiences by which African people and others involved have prevented, surmounted, and transcended challenges to livelihood, security, and emotional wellbeing. Sometimes they have done so with remarkable success, practical or artistic. Special attention is devoted to youth, identity, and interethnic relations as we examine varied initiatives. These range from international relief and development agency efforts to creative myth-making, resistance, and urbane satire. Theories, ethnographies, and stories of intervention include case studies on several settings.  Local wisdom comes to terms with foreign expertise, and vice versa, as students compare modes of involvement. 4 credit. [Counts toward African Studies Minor]

Instructor: Prof. P.M. Shipton

Location: TBA

Time: M/W/F 3:35-4:45pm

AN 438  Ethnography of North America

Ideas for the new “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the American Galaxy”

What after all is this thing we call “American Culture”? How and why was it constructed and for whom? How we do examine a modern society’s ideological and cultural understandings? What verifies OR AUTHORIZES an “American” identity: who is counted and who is not?

The aim of this course is to offer an outline of American Culture through ethnography. A general introduction to the American core values of individualism, egalitarianism, and self-reliance, – and the ideologies of American Exceptionalism willbe followed by considerations of specific aspectsof social and cultural life. In particular, we will treat ethnicity and the negotiation of ethnic identities, the social construction of differences and inequalities, resistance and movements for social change.

We will look at American cultural settings with the tools of Cultural Anthropology – ethnographic observations, fieldwork methodologies, as well as epistemological and theoretical – but also an interdisciplinary approach will be suggested. Readings will include first person accounts, literature, and we will also use music and movies as “texts” for analysis. THIS COURSE WILL COUNT AS AN AREA COURSE FOR ANTHROPOLOGY CONCENTRATORS.

Instructor: Augusto Ferraiuolo

Location: CAS TBA

Time: M/W/F 12 – 1 pm

Untitled 2

Videos about the course:

AN 438-Ethnography of American Culture 1
AN 438-Ethnography of American Culture 2


AN 589  The Anthropology of Development Theory & Practice

Anthropologists and practitioners of international development seem to have similar commitments to the betterment of historically disadvantaged peoples. But these two enterprises have an uncomfortable relationship; one famous depiction calls development anthropology’s “evil twin.” Even though many individuals may be personally and professionally engaged in both, anthropology as a field has developed – at least in writing – a sustained and multidimensional critique of particular development efforts and of the endeavor as a whole. This course will explore such critiques through anthropological texts that try to grapple with, make sense of, and ultimately challenge international development. It will also consider whether, amidst these critiques, anthropology can imagine an alternative discourse and practice of betterment.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing or consent of instructor

Instructor:Joanna Davidson

Location: TBA

Time: M 2:30-5:15pm


AN 309/709  Boston: An Ethnographic Approach

Boston is our beat: our assignment, an ethnographic treatment of the city. We will explore Boston as a set of ideas of identity, politics and urban life, developing and placed in the spaces of a place called the Hub, Beantown, Bawston and the “Athens of America.” Boston’s patterns of geographical, immigration and demographic development are different from those of other east coast cities. The spaces of Boston, many carved out of water by landfill, became enclaves with demographic distinctions of class, race and ethnicity.  Policies, priorities and privilege further defined and set apart these places. The tools of anthropological observation and ethnography will provide students with the capacity to understand community, diversity and the ethnic geography of Boston. (Area Course)

Instructor: Merry White

Location: TBA

Time: M/W/F 12:20-1:10pm

A video about the course