300 Level Courses
300 Level Courses
AN 305/706 Comparative Family Systems
A comparative examination of the Asian family, concentrating on marriage, reproduction, power, and relations with kin. Three Asian societies are treated: Japan, India, and the People’s Republic of China. Readings include ethnographic, historical, and sociological materials; lectures provide a theoretical focus. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Asian Studies Minors]
AN 307/707 Turkey & Middle East Perspective (Area)
This course is an examination of the social and cultural diversity of Turkey, with some comparative reference to the Muslim Middle East, Asia and Europe. The focus is on the interplay between tradition and social and economic change from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. Specific issues addressed include: rural and urban life; family structure and kinship; Islam as belief and practice; gender roles; and ethnic, religious and national identities within the context of nationalism, globalization, urbanization and migration. SS 4 cr..
AN 308/708 Food, Culture, and Society
Foodways; culinary history; personal, social, and cultural identity; and the experience of taste are the focus of inquiry in this course. Using perspectives drawn from anthropology, sociology, history, and other disciplines, this course treats food as both direct and emblematic foci for identity, national development, globalization, and social change. Special attention is given to communities in the Boston area as locations of cultural and culinary diversity and identity. Students conduct fieldwork and engage in discussions with food professionals in the Boston area. SS 4 cr.
AN 309/709 Boston: An Ethnographic Approach (Area)
This course takes an ethnographic approach to the city of Boston. Students will explore Boston as a set of ideas surrounding identity, ethnicity, race, class, religion, and politics. Topics for lecture and discussion include Boston’s peculiar patterns of geographical development, industrialization, and immigration. The tools of anthropological observation and ethnography will provide students with the capacity to understand community, diversity and the human geography of Boston. Requires field-trip participation. SS 4 cr.
AN 310/710 Studies in North American Ethnography (Area)
An ethnographic survey of native North Americans that includes an appreciation of their traditional background and heritage. Lectures and readings focus on the analysis of Native American culture, history, and contact with Europeans, government policies, and the examination and evaluation of the contemporary situation. SS 4 cr.
AN 312 Peoples and Cultures of Africa (Area)
An overview of the anthropology of Africa. Readings include ethnographies, histories, novels, and firsthand life stories. Major topics include: the impact of colonialism, social organization and gender, systems of thought and religion, postcoloniality and social change, African environments, and the cultural politics of the national-state. The course is intended to provide students with an appreciation for the diversity of African cultures and an understanding of some of the key insights from Africanist anthropology. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards African Studies Minor]
AN 314/714 Cultures of Latin America (Area)
This course takes a problem-solving approach to the study of Latin America. It focuses on the key debates that have motivated anthropologists who conduct fieldwork in Latin America. Through readings, discussions, and independent research, students will assess and respond to journalistic accounts of Latin America, analyze the relationship between the United States and its neighbors, and identify new areas for scholarly investigation SS 4 cr.
AN 316/716 Contemporary European Ethnography (Area)
This course examines how European identities are being maintained, challenged, and transformed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Through the close reading of recent European ethnographies about France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, and Bosnia, the course takes up a number of crucial Europe-wide social issues: post-colonial immigration, religious diversity and renewal, the rise of racist ethno-nationalism, and European (dis)integration. Lectures and discussion highlight intra-European differences that shape regional and national responses to these issues. SS 4 cr.
AN 317/717 Power and Society in the Middle East (Area)
This course considers the ways in which power and authority are expressed and reproduced in the Middle East within a wide range of social and political settings. It begins with an overview of the underlying principles and tensions of Middle Eastern history and social organization, and then moves to a discussion of the ways in which these principles and tensions are expressed in religious, communal, gender, and political relationships. The course also considers the effects of the media and global market on authority and power relations within these settings. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards MENA Major]
AN 318/718 Southeast Asia: Tradition and Development (Area)
This course offers an in-depth introduction to the cultural traditions of Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, East Timor, and the Philippines) and contemporary changes taking place there. This course offers an in-depth introduction to the cultural traditions and contemporary changes taking place in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, East Timor, and the Philippines). It examines the region’s society and culture through the optic of political and cultural history, so as to understand the “integrative revolutions” that have shaped this region from earliest times to today. The course addresses several critical questions — the nature of the pre-modern state; colonialism and the “rise of the West”; the politics and culture of modern nation-states; Islam, Buddhism, and the challenge of modernity; capitalism and the new Asian industrialization; the impact of modern development on families and gender relations; and the contemporary dynamics of democratization and civil society. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Asian Studies Minor]
AN 319/719 Anthropology of Muslim Cultures and Politics (Area)
This is a course on contemporary Muslim societies, their culture and politics. Part I of the course challenges the dominant understanding of “tradition” as being “unchanging and static,” and “modernity” as being dynamic, unidirectional, and monolithic. Instead, the concept of “multiple modernities” is suggested as a more apt characterization of the Muslim response to modernity. Part II focuses on the close reading of ethnographies, biographies, and autobiographies about and from the Muslim world in order to get a sense of the rich diversity of Muslim cultures and their internal struggles over institutional forms, cultural meanings, religious authority, gender relations, and notions of citizenship, civil society, and democracy. Part III is devoted to art, literature, and popular culture. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards MENA Major]
AN 320/720 Women in the Muslim World
This course provides a broad framework for exploring, examining and understanding the diversity and complexity of women’s roles, positions, activities and experiences in the vast Muslim world, including that of Muslims in the United States. The course takes a cross-cultural approach to the study of women and gender that incorporate textual, historical and ethnographic sources to explore differences and similarities among and between women in the Muslim world. Emphasis is placed on gender analysis as a way to explore structural inequalities, challenges of power and authority, and patterns of inclusion and exclusion in the realms of law, religion, and politics. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Minor]
AN 321/721 Cognition and Culture
Investigation of the relationship of cognition and culture, focusing on the problem of evolution and mind, public acts and private thought, the “primitive mentality” debate, socialization theory, cultural aspects of mental illness, and the role of innate vs. cultural variables in shaping cognition. SS 4 cr
AN 325/725 Hinduism, Globalization and World Politics
Using the example of Hinduism in India and overseas Indian communities, the course examines current debates on globalism, religion, transnationalism, and fundamentalism with an emphasis on cultural, social, and political changes. SS 4 cr.
AN 326/726 Oral Traditions as Verbal Art
Exploration of religious and secular poetry worldwide with emphasis on the ethnography of communication. A focus on performance in oral tradition and its consequences for literary form, as well as the impact of mass media and literacy on orality. SS 4 cr
AN 327 Islam in Africa (Area)
This course examines the Islamization of Africa and the various processes of Arabization and Africanization (localization) of Islam. Case studies from North, West and East Africa are discussed. The course examines the religious beliefs, cultures, and histories of multiple Muslim societies of Africa, including the complex struggles of Muslims in Morocco and in the Hausaland of Nigeria. The course also examines Islam in the Ashanti society of Ghana, in Buganda communities of Uganda, in Wolof communities of Senegambia, and in the ostensibly Christian state of Ethiopia (beginning with the first emigration of Muslims from Mecca in 615 AD). The Mahdi movement of the Sudan and the popular and expanding Muridiyya Sufi order of Senegal are also examined. The course concludes with a survey of the forms and contents of the rich religious and secular literatures in indigenous African languages written with the Arabic script. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards African Studies Minor]
AN 330/730 The Evolution of Human Life History
Prereq: CAS AN 102 or CAS BI 107. This course analyzes human life history from an evolutionary and cross-cultural perspective. Issues to be addressed include: 1) the basic patterns of human growth and development; 2) techniques for assessing human growth status; 3) life history theory; 4) comparative analyses of human life stages, incorporating studies of living primates and fossil human ancestors; and 5) endocrine, social, and ecological determinants of variation in growth and development. Other topics include brain evolution, fetal programming, sexual dimorphism, senescence, immunity, and obesity. NS 4 cr.]
AN 331/731 Human Origins
Prereq: CAS AN 102; or CAS AR 101 and CAS BI 107 or equivalent. Introduction to human paleontology and methods for reconstructing the ancestry, structure, diet, and behavior of fossil primates and humans. Survey of primate and hominid fossils, primate comparative anatomy, radioactive dating, molecular and structural phylogenies, climatic analyses, and comparative behavioral ecology. NS 4 cr.
AN 333/733 Human Population Biology
Prereq: CAS AN 102; or CAS BI 107 and either BI 119, BI 211, or BI 303; or consent of instructor. Human population biology and ecological adaptations: human demography, life history patterns, population genetics, and physiological adaptability. Topics: population dynamics of human societies, mortality and fertility schedules, evolution and genetics of human life history traits, physiological adaptability, and ecological correlates. NS 4 cr. [Counts towards African Studies Minor]
AN 335/735 The Ape Within: Great Apes and the Evolution of Human Behavior
Prereq: AN 102 and BI 119 or BI 107; or consent of instructor. This course is an examination of how behavior evolves in cognitively complex species and an exploration of the significance of similarities in behavior between humans and other living primates. The consideration of a variety of living primates is taken up in order to (1) illustrate rules of behavior and (2) represent the kinds of behavior that might have occurred in human ancestry. The focus of the course, however, is on the study of our closest living relatives: gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and chimpanzees and what their behaviors reveal about human evolution and human uniqueness. Topics include diet, social relationships, sexual behavior, aggression, culture, and cognition. NS 4 cr.
AN 336/736 Primate Evolutionary Ecology
Prereq: AN 102. This course covers the various theoretical approaches to the understanding of the evolutionary ecology of wild primates. Topics to be covered include functional anatomy, genetic approaches to mating systems, demography, behavioral ecology, community ecology, and conservation. NS 4 cr.
AN 337 Creation and Evolution
A critical survey of the creation/evolution controversy in its historical, scientific, philosophical, and theological contexts—from ancient Babylon down to the intelligent-design movement. NS 4 cr.
AN 338 Lucy: The Oldest Woman
This course focuses on the study of the 3.2 million year old fossil skeleton “Lucy” and what her bones reveal about human origins and human evolution. Casts of Lucy and other hominids are examined in detail in an attempt to understand the nature of science and learn how paleoanthropologists come to know what they think they know about human origins and human evolution. Topics of readings and discussion include: How did Lucy move? What did she eat? Could she talk? Was she furry? How did she give birth? NS 4 cr.
AN 339/ 739 Primate Biomechanics
Prereq: AN 102, Bio 107 or consent of instructor. This course is an introduction to the physical principles and anatomies underlying primate behavior, with a particular emphasis on locomotion in general and human locomotion in particular. The course takes up issues of mechanics, bone biology, skeletal anatomy, and the primate fossil record in order to address the question of why bones are shaped the way they are and how we can reconstruct behavior from fossils. Students study running mechanics and use state-of-the-art plantar-pressure-sensing equipment to study variation in modern human foot function. NS 4 cr.
AN 340/740 Folk Songs as Social History
Anglo-American folk songs and singing styles are considered as expressions of personal, social, and cultural history. The class involves finding and using regional and thematic song collections, the performance of traditional music, and preparation and presentation of song materials in selected projects. SS 4 cr.
AN 344/744 Modern Japanese Society: Family, School, and Workplace (Area)
This course approaches contemporary Japanese society through an examination of ideology, culture and social institutions such as family, school and workplace. The lectures and readings explore how these institutions have evolved since 1868, the beginning of what is considered “modern Japan.” We will look at the strengths and failures of these institutions in terms of expectations and fulfillment – considering the lives of elderly and others who fall outside the system. Since 1991, Japan has experienced several social, economic, and natural crises. We will look at such “critical moments” as they allow new thinking on culture and society. In addition, this course treats urbanism, consumption and popular culture, and the effects of “globalization” in material culture. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Minor]
AN 345/745 Moving Experiences: Cultures of Tourism and Travel
Prereq: CAS AN 101. This course is an examination of voluntary border-crossing in its various cultural and historical meanings as well as in the representations of journals and contemporary accounts. Primary source material on the experiences of travel and models drawn from the scholarly literature on “border-crossing” will be analyzed using an anthropological lens. Field trips in the Boston area will supplement readings and discussions, allowing students to examine tourism as observers and participants in tourist destinations as well as in museums whose collections represent cross-cultural observation and experience. SS 4 cr.
AN 347/747 Afghanistan (Area)
An ethnographic and historical examination of Afghanistan’s traditional social organization, ecology and economy, political organization, and relationship among ethnic groups as a basis for examining the consequences of domestic political turmoil and foreign interventions over the last thirty years. The current situation in Afghanistan and the country’s prospects for the future are also addressed. SS 4 cr.
AN 348 Investigating Contemporary Globalization
This course examines the various processes that have created a more interconnected “globalized” world, including the greater movement of peoples, ideas, goods, and capital across cultural and national borders; new communication technologies; a growing international division of labor; and increased attention to issues such as universal human rights and the experiences of women. Key debates include the question of whether these processes produce global cultural homogenization or greater cultural diversity and whether globalization reproduces power dynamics or allows for new freedoms and opportunities. SS 4 cr.
AN 350/750 Asians in America (Area)
This course is a survey of the cultural history of Asian immigrants in the United States from the 1850s to the present, focusing on family structure, gender, generational differences, religion, and education. The course examines the broader implications of the Asian experience for understanding mainstream American culture and takes up contemporary Asian-American cultural forms and contributions. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Asian Studies Minor].
AN 351 Language, Culture, and Society
An introduction to the basic concepts, approaches, and perspectives of linguistic anthropology. The course examines the ways that language both reflects and shapes thought, culture, and relations of power. The course includes a brief introduction to linguistic structure (i.e., phonology, morphology & syntax) which will serve as a foundation for readings and lectures. Particular emphasis is placed on three topical areas: the linguistic performance of youth identities (slang); language and the performance of gender; and language, ethnicity, and race. SS 4 cr.
AN 355/755 Religious Fundamentalism in Anthropological Perspective
This course explores the phenomena of global fundamentalism from an anthropological perspective, seeking to discover some of the sociopolitical conditions that motivate those willing to “do battle royal” for the fundamentals of their faith. Theoretically framed within the discourses of social movements and “narratives of redemption” that form the foundations of fundamentalist worldviews, the course focuses particular attention on common areas of contestation, including the control of women and family and gender and sexual relations. A growing number of women and feminists have endeavored to engage the theological and scholarly discourses and to give their interpretations of the Biblical and Islamic scriptures. Their views constitute a major part of this course. SS 4 cr.
AN 360/760 The Nomadic Alternative
Ethnographic and historical examination of nomads in Africa and Eurasia focusing on the ecology of pastoralism, nomadic social organization, political relations between nomads and states, the rise and fall of steppe empires, and the future of nomads. SS 4 cr.
AN 362 Culture and Environment
This course examines how the social construction of environment, nature, and culture varies cross-culturally and historically, as well as how it influences economic change, environmental movements, nature tourism, and public policy. Primary examples are taken from India, China, Native American cultures, and the West. SS 4 cr.
AN 363 Food and Water: Critical Perspectives on Global Crises
This course examines the multiple causes and consequences of global inequity, with a specific focus on the production, consumption, and distribution of food and water. Lectures and discussions explore how people in different parts of the world, past and present, have interacted with food and water. The course considers the political economy, political ecology, and moral economy of these vital ¬ but often contested ¬ substances. SS 4 cr.
AN 371/771 Political Anthropology of the Modern World
Examines the concepts of political anthropology and applies them to the analysis of the origins and development of the modern political world. Special attention is paid to nations and nationalism, the state and modern development, comparative political culture, and urban and agrarian political change. SS 4 cr.
AN 372/772 Psychological Anthropology
Introduces students to some key theoretical perspectives and controversies in the cross-cultural study of psychology. Readings include classic texts and cross-cultural studies of emotion, sexuality, concepts of the person, national character, consciousness, authority, and religion. SS 4 cr.
AN 375/775 Culture, Society, and Religion in South Asia (Area)
The study of the South Asian cultural region (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) from an ethnographic perspective. Topics of reading and discussion include social structure and kinship, gender, geography, linguistic diversity, ethnicity, religions and ritual practices, agricultural patterns, economics and politics, folklore and popular culture, as well as colonialism and current events such as nationalistic movements, religious extremism, and communal violence. The aim of the course is to provide a descriptive basis and interpretive framework for understanding the diverse cultural and religious landscape of South Asia as a distinct and important region of the world. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Asian Studies Minor]
AN 379 China: Tradition and Transition (Area)
This course examines the dramatic changes that have occurred in China and Taiwan over the past seventy years from the viewpoint of the people who lived through those changes. It considers the transformation of the People’s Republic of China to socialism and compares China’s socialist model and current market reforms with Taiwan’s capitalist model. The course takes up the evolution of the different authoritarian political systems in both countries including issues of personal and intellectual freedom. Readings and discussion will also consider family life and kinship — concentrating especially on the position of women and on the effects of China’s population policy — and China’s rich religious traditions as they have changed under both socialism and capitalism. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Asian Studies Minor, IR Major]
AN 382/782 Wealth, Poverty, and Culture
Explores vital cultural dimensions of production, exchange, and consumption in varied settings. Asks how social ties relate to property, wealth, and poverty. Examines how people classify, control, and allocate resources, and how resources in turn influence people. SS 4 cr.
AN 384/784 Anthropological Study of Religion
The study of religion as a social and cultural phenomenon and of the various ways that anthropologists theorize religion. The course traces the development of anthropological thought about religion by way of an historical survey of the works of key figures in the discipline as well as those from without. The second half of the course is devoted to the readings and critical assessment of case studies in the anthropology of religion, ranging from Indonesia to India, Pakistan, and the New World. SS 4 cr.
AN 397/797 Anthropology of Film: Ways of Seeing
Visual anthropology and ethnographic film developed from the quest for knowledge of other cultures through visual representation. But whether ethnographic film as a medium of representation should be scientific or aesthetic has been debated and discarded. This course explores the evolution of our observational knowledge and visual understanding of other cultures’ practices and peoples’ behavior by way of films and documentaries about and from selected societies(the US, Senegal, Kenya, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan). The course is divided into two parts. The focus of Part I is the history of the development of visual anthropology and the analysis of the films made by pioneer anthropologists. Part II concentrates on documentaries and films made by anthropologists and film-makers from the selected societies to explore social conflicts, cultural representations, gender perspectives, power relations, authorship, and spectatorship. SS 4 cr.