500 Level Courses
500 Level Courses
AN 505 Asian Development: The Case of Women (Area)
How women’s lives in China, Japan, and India have been affected by economic development and social change. Women’s education, health, child rearing, and labor force participation are considered in the context of socioeconomic and cultural influences. 4 cr. Cross-listed for minor in Women’s Studies.
AN 510 Proposal Writing for Social Science Research
This course is designed for graduate students in the social sciences and humanities who are preparing proposals for research. It is a requirement for undergraduates seeking honors in the anthropology department and is open (with instructor approval) to other advanced undergraduates with plans to pursue field-based research projects. The purpose of the course is to take student interests and turn them into answerable research questions. The main goal is the production of a project proposal. The proposal will make clear the student’s research question, offer a hypothetical answer, show why the question is academically interesting, present a research methodology, and include a working bibliography. In order to facilitate student research, the course will also include an introduction to the BU Institutional Review Board (IRB)’s requirements and review procedures for social science research.
This course works on a very different model than most undergraduate or graduate courses. Where most courses are geared toward reading, this course is almost exclusively focused on writing. Every week, a subset of the class will submit and circulate a written assignment prior to the course meeting. Course meetings will be dedicated to collective, constructive critique of the work that has been circulated. In order to facilitate this, all students will be expected to read and provide written comments on classmates’ papers prior to class meetings. Students should expect to submit work for critique 4 times during the course of the semester; they will also be expected to revise their last submission into final paper that has the form and content of a fully-developed research proposal.
AN 515 Authenticity and Identity
Explores the idea of the authentic self in Western culture in readings from authors such as Montesquieu, Hegel, Rousseau, Diderot, Moliere, and Nietzsche. Historical and cross-cultural perspective is provided through examples from medieval Europe, Pakistan, America, Bali, and China. 4 cr.
AN 519 Kinship
Marriage, the family, and the use of kinship principles in human social organization. Examines moral and legal rules and social customs affecting alliance, descent, filiation, residence, inheritance, and property rights. 4 cr. Cross-listed for minor in Women’s Studies.
AN 520 Nilotic Peoples: African Culture in Depth (Area)
Prereq: senior standing or consent of instructor. Explores classic and contemporary studies of Nilotic- and Bantu-speaking cultures of the middle and upper Nile (Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk, Luo, and others) and through them, a British African tradition of ethnography and theory central to anthropology. 4 cr.
AN 521 Socio-Linguistics
Introduction to language in its social context. Methodological and theoretical approaches to sociolinguistics. Linguistic variation in relation to situation, gender, socioeconomic class, linguistic context, and ethnicity. Integrating micro- and macro-analysis from the conversational level to societal language planning. (Formerly CAS LX 520.) 4 cr.
AN 524 Seminar: Language and Culture Contacts in Contemporary Africa
Prereq: AN 351 or consent of instructor. This course will examine the concepts and theoretical approaches to study language variation and change in sociolinguistics/linguistic anthropology. It will examine internal and external factors that trigger language variations and changes and the social attitudes associated with them. The nexus between diachronic and synchronic changes will also be reanalyzed in light of the Labovian variationist model. While the course will focus on language variations and changes in Africa, it will draw from existing literature to provide students with a strong foundation on the scholarship in the field of contact linguistics, language variation and change, types of variations, the relationships between these variations and gender, ethnicity, religion, youth culture, and globalization. It will conclude by introducing students to the new field of forensic linguistics (the interface between language, crime and law). Using actual cases from the US and Europe, the use of linguistic features as evidence in criminal investigations, in authorship disputes, and in asylum cases will be examined. The course will consist of lectures and class discussions, practical exercises dealing with issues on language variation and change and their various implications in the 21st century. The course will provide students with the tools necessary to plan and execute studies on language variation and change in the world’s speech communities. 4 cr.
AN 525 Ritual and Political Identity
Prereq: senior standing or consent of instructor. Provides a conceptual foundation for interpreting and understanding ritual and its role in shaping political and social identity and worldview. Focus on cases drawn from the contemporary Muslim world. 4 cr.
AN 532 Literacy and Islam in Africa (Area)
Prereq: consent of instructor. Ajami comes from the Arabic word for non-Arab, or foreigner. It also refers to the practice of writing other languages using a modified Arabic script. Although written records are rarely regarded as part of sub-Saharan Africa’s intellectual heritage, important bodies of Ajami materials have existed in numerous communities in Africa for centuries. In South Africa, Muslim Malay slaves produced the first written record of Afrikaans in Ajami. Africa’s Ajami traditions developed in communities with a long history of practicing Islam, and who sought to adapt the Arabic alphabet to their own tongues, first for religious purposes such as prayers, writing magical protective devices, and disseminating religious materials and edicts, and later for secular functions such as commercial and administrative record-keeping, writing eulogies and family genealogies, recording important events such as births, deaths and weddings, and writing biographies, poetry, political satires, advertisements, road signs, public announcements, speeches, and personal correspondence. The course will examine both major and minor African Ajami traditions. It will investigate (1) the Islamization of Africa and the subsequent development of Ajami literary traditions in the continent, (2) the forms, contents, and goals of Ajami materials, (3) their role in the spread of Islam and the reverse effect of African influences on Islam, (4) the past and current secular functions of Ajami materials, and (5) the Arabic and Ajami materials written by enslaved Africans in the Americas. The primary goal of this course is to enable students to have access to the unique sources of knowledge generally missed in the studies on Africa written in Arabic and European languages, and to provide them with a deeper understanding of the spread of Islam and its Africanization in the continent. The course will open new research opportunities for students interested in the histories and traditions of sub-Saharan African Muslim communities. 4 cr.
AN 534 Advanced Topics in Human Behavioral Evolution
Prereq: consent of instructor. Topics in the behavioral evolution of Homo sapiens include social and sexual behavior, tool traditions, diet and hunting, language and intelligence, and locomotion. Will consider (inferred) behavioral transitions that characterized the origin of our genus and our species. 4 cr.
AN 538 Human Ecology of Modern Africa (Area)
Four themes of twentieth-century change are explored: demographic growth, the redistribution of population through migration and urbanization, the intensification of resource use, and disasters and recoveries. Classic theories of the processes are related to African data. 4 cr.
AN 540 Anthropology and Aesthetics
Prereq: consent of instructor. Introduction to the anthropological study of art and aesthetics. Examples from Africa, Native America, Oceania, and Australia. The deeper aim is to examine the degree to which aesthetics reflect, express, and inform the cultures in which they are found. 4 cr
AN541 Modernity Seminar
This seminar looks at the phenomenon of modernity from a multidisciplinary point of view. Discussed are the cultural foundations of modernity, specifically and primarily nationalism bu also Romanticism, science, and major political ideologies. Also analyzed are modernization and development as studied by the social sciences, modernism, and postmodernism in literary and cultural studies; and the nature of man and society in the perspectives of modern philosophy. Also offered as CAS SO541. 4 cr.
AN 547 Topics: Muslim Societies and Islamic Civilizations (Area)
Prereq: junior standing or consent of instructor. Selected current issues and debates in current anthropology focusing on contemporary Muslim societies and Islamic civilizations.
Fall 2007 Topic: Afghanistan: Problems and Prospects. Ethnographic and historical account 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 twenty years. The current situation in Afghanistan and the country’s prospects for the future will also be addressed. 4 cr.
Fall 2004 Topic: Media, Market, and Material Culture in Muslim Society. This course examines the role of media, market, and material culture in shaping the intersection of Islam and society. We will consider Islam as commodity and fashion, as fiction and film, as popular discourse, as global as well as local narratives, and the effects of these on the lives of Muslims in a variety of settings, and on the image of Muslims or Islamic civilization elsewhere. 4 cr.
AN 548 Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History (Area)
The course introduces students interested in Muslim Studies to the main themes, states, empires, faiths, and ideologies of the Muslim world, while taking advantage of the wealth of resources Boston University has to offer across its many departments. The areas included within the course range from North and West Africa, through the Middle East, to Turkey, Iran, and then to Central and South and Southeast Asia. These areas represent vastly different communities, cultures, and histories and no course can fully elucidate them all. Instead, this course examines themes that influence the multiple regions, while providing select states, empires, and ideologies as case studies for further development. The course will provide a combination of lectures and discussion sessions. Guest speakers and discussants will attend the class most weeks to enable the students to meet many of the professors teaching about this region at Boston University. It is open to both upper-level undergraduates and graduate students. 4 cr.
AN 550 Human Skeleton
Prereq: AN 331 or BI 106 or consent of instructor. Function, development, variation, and pathologies of the human musculoskeletal system, emphasizing issues of human evolution. Basic processes of bone biology; how the skeleton is affected by use, age, sex, diet, and disease. Meetings are predominantly lab oriented. 4 cr.
AN 551 Anthropology and Human Heredity
Prereq: AN 102 and consent of instructor. Surveys the theory and methods of evolutionary genetics as applied to human populations. Emphasis on the relevant aspects of transmission genetics, population genetics, and phylogenetics. Considers intersection of human genetics with social issues such as racism, bioethics, and eugenics. 4 cr.
AN 552 Primate Evolution and Anatomy
Prereq: AN 331, AN 338, AN 339, AN 550, or consent of instructor. The evolutionary history of the primate radiation—particularly that of monkeys, apes, and humans—is examined through investigation of the musculoskeletal anatomy of living and fossil primates. Comparative and biomechanical approaches are used to reconstruct the behavior of extinct species. 4 cr.
AN 554 Reproductive Ecology
Prereq: AN 263 or consent of instructor. (N.B.: The only pre-requisite is AN263. The on-line course bulletin is incorrect.) This course investigates the processes that regulate fertility in human populations, in the absence of modern contraception. We will adopt an evolutionary perspective to examine the factors that have shaped human reproductive physiology, and to reconstruct the reproductive patterns of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Important steps of the reproductive process that contribute to variation in fertility will be considered in detail. These include menarche, ovarian cycling, pregnancy, lactation, fetal loss, and menopause. The basic biology of each step will be reviewed, and evidence for biological and social influences on these processes will be considered. 4 cr.
AN 556 Evolution of the Human Diet
Prereq: AN102 or consent of instructor. An investigation of human dietary evolution including primate and human dietary adaptations, nutritional requirements, optimal foraging, digestive physiology, maternal and infant nutrition, hunting and cooking in human evolution and impacts of food processing and agriculture on modern diets and health. 4 cr.
AN 557 Anthropology of Mental Health
Prereq: junior standing and AN 101, AN 102, or AN 210, or consent of instructor. Considers mental illness from an anthropological point of view, including cultural, biological, and evolutionary perspectives. Focuses on the interaction of biology and culture in major mental disorders. Consideration is given to ethnomedical practices of healing mental illness. 4 cr.
AN 558 Human Sex Differences: Behavior, Biology, and Ecology
Prereq: sophomore standing and AN 102, AN 334. Why are men and women different? This course adopts an evolutionary, adaptive perspective to investigate sex differences in human behavior, physiology, and cognition from developmental, mechanistic, and phylogenetic perspectives. Topics include sex differences in aggression, mate choice, parenting, affiliation, and cognition. 4 cr.
AN 563 Public Religion and Politics Across Cultures
Prereq: junior standing or consent of instructor. The contested role of religion in modern politics and its implications for civil life. Begins with the West and includes Islam in the Middle East and SE Asia. Evangelicalism in Latin American and Africa, Hindu nationalism, and Buddhism in China. Also offered as CAS IR 563. 4 cr.
AN 568 Symbol, Myth, and Rite
Historical overview of ritual behavior, the role of symbolism in the study of culture, and the narrative quality of worldview and belief. Emphasis on verbal performance and public display events in specific cultural contexts. 4 cr.
AN 570 Lovers and Leaders: The Anthropology of Romance and Charisma
A comparison of theories of charismatic leadership and romantic love from sociology and psychology. Case studies from literature will be discussed for illustration and comparison. 4 cr.
AN 573 The Ethnography of Taiwan and China (Area)
Prereq: junior standing or consent of instructor. Reading of major ethnographies and modern histories as a basis for examining changing Taiwanese and Chinese culture and society. Attention to ethnography as a genre, as well as to the dramatic changes of the past century. 4 cr.
AN 581 Money and Meaning
An examination of money and economic life in a variety of historical and contemporary societies with a focus on cultural, symbolic, religious, and philosophical perspectives. Special issues include value, trust, credit, debt, fairness, and movements between sacred and profane. 4 cr.
AN 582 Economic Anthropology
Understanding of the ways in which various cultures allocate and control resources. Special attention to economic models and alternative manners of modeling allocation and exchange processes. Discussion of the interrelation of economic variables and cultural values that affect production-consumption and exchange decisions. The transformation of subsistent economies. 4 cr.
AN 583 Seminar in Complex Societies
The purpose of the course is to examine the elements of social order and their constitutive large-scale units, which must be dealt with if one is to provide adequate and comprehensive, theoretically-based descriptions of societies. The elementary forms of social life will be explored, building up to societal and inter-societal and levels of order such as class and state. 4 cr.
AN 585 Advanced Readings in African Ethnography
Explores ecological adaptation, kinship, social organization, religious thought and practice, and creative expression. Special focus on the history of theory, method, and narrative style in the construction of African ethnographies. 4 cr.
AN 589 Seminar: Development Anthropology
The overall objectives of this seminar are: to familiarize seminar participants with the ethnography of various types of development assistance organizations, including bilateral and multilateral donors, and non-governmental organizations with attention to the ways they are shaped and constrained by their constituencies; to analyze the processes through which these organizations articulate policies, develop country-specific strategies, identify, design, and implement programs and projects, and carry out evaluations; to illuminate the roles and strategies of anthropologists working in these processes; and to familiarize students with current thinking on cooperatives, common property, women and development, private voluntary organizations, participation, integrated rural development, and other cross-cutting themes and issues. This seminar is intended for students with a background in social/cultural anthropology and a serious interest in development. Students who have not studied anthropology should discuss the feasibility of taking the course with the instructor and be prepared to undertake additional background reading. 4 cr.
AN 590 Seminar: Theory, Method, and Techniques in Fieldwork
Prereq. consent of instructor. Traditional and modern methods of ethnographic field research: data collection, research design, and analyses. 4 cr.
AN 593 Seminar: Topics in Cultural Anthropology
Prereq: concentration in department or consent of instructor.
(Fall 2007 Topic section A1) Ethnography of Taiwanese Society. This course examines the modern history and especially the ethnography of Taiwan and its relationship to Chinese culture and society. Students will read major recent ethnographic and historical treatments of Taiwan, with an eye on methodology and theory, as well as on Taiwan’s dramatic changes over the last century. Topics include Taiwan’s well-known economic and political transformations, but also changes in daily life, family, culture, and religion. Some material from China will also be included.
(Fall 2007 Topic section A2) Child Development in Diverse Cultures. This seminar presents a comparative approach to the child’s maturation and learning during infancy, early childhood, and middle childhood in diverse cultural environments. After considering basic concepts (plasticity, heritabilty, environmental variations, cultural practices, contextual methods), the seminar will examine topcs such as parenting, attachment, language socialization, social interactions and relationships, children’s work and play, the formation of self.
AN 594 Seminar: Topics in Cultural Anthropology
Prereq: concentration in department or consent of instructor. Selected issues and debates in current anthropology.
(Fall 2005) The Anthropology of Performance. This course utilizes anthropological and sociological methods to analyze artistic performances specifically staged for an audience, such as music, dance, cinema, and theater, but also ritual and performance in charismatic movements. Areas of interest include the mechanisms of staging, the performer’s relationships with the audience, the construction of a performance persona, and the place of the performer and the performance within the larger social-historical context.
(Spring 2006) Political Anthropology in a Global World. This course examines the implications of globalization for political life. The interplay between the global and the local creates new challenges for the anthropology of politics. The course examines these theoretical debates, which deal with sovereignty, imperialism, and the intrication between the different types of political spaces.
(Spring 2007 & 2009) Culture and Emotions. This course considers how anthropology has contributed to the understanding of emotions in humans and where its contributions fit in an interdisciplinary field increasingly dominated by neuroscience. Issues to be examined include the cultural meanings of emotions in diverse populations, the value of ethnographic, linguistic, and comparative methods in revealing emotional experience, and how anthropological findings can revise psychological generalizations.
(Spring 2008) Humans among Animals. Some people classify humans as animals. Others insist they differ. Doubts and disagreements abound in questions of animal consciousness. This course explores intersections between anthropology, moral philosophy, and evolutionary psychology, asking how humans classify animals and use (other) animals for solace, self-expression, and self-understanding Focusing on selected species (“wild” to “domestic”), we probe the limits of kinship, companionship, and empathy as they vary across cultures and contexts, and as new discoveries challenge old assumptions. Symbolic, ecological, and jural-political implications are considered. 4 cr.
AN 595 Field Methods in Human Biology
Prereq: CAS AN 102 or BI 107 and BI 108; AN 332 or AN 333; and MA 115; or consent of instructor. Hands-on instruction in non-clinical techniques of comprehensive health assessment, including body composition, diet, energetics, health status, psychological stress, and reproductive status. Students design and execute their own research projects. 4 cr.
AN 596 Anthropology and History
Examines the use of ethnographic material and models of alternative social or economic organization to interpret historical materials, as well as the use of history to provide dynamic models of change in anthropological analysis. 4 cr.
AN 597 Special Issues in Biological Anthropology
Prereq: consent of instructor. Fall 2013 Topic: Australopithecus sediba
In August of 2008, a nine-year old boy stumbled over a rock near Malapa cave, South Africa, and found the first of hundreds of fossils of a new species of early hominin: Australopithecus sediba. For five years, researchers, including Professor DeSilva, have been studying these fossils. What were they? How long ago did they live? What did they eat? How did they move? Where do they fit on the family tree today? In this seminar, we will read everything that has been published about these fossils, and discuss how scientists figure out the answers to these questions, and how discoveries like these lead to a whole series of new questions about human evolution. 4 cr.
AN 598 Special Issues in Biological Anthropology
Biological anthropology is concerned with the human evolutionary past and its implications for modern human biology and behavior. This course is intended to give advanced students a chance to discuss and analyze issues arising from this endeavor. Topics are drawn from current controversies in human evolution, biology, and behavior.
(Spring 2006) Conserving Wild Primate Populations. This course introduces students to the primary scientific literature of primate conservation biology. Weekly topics will focus on the economic, social, and political factors leading to population decline as well as the genetic, ecological, and demographic techniques used to assess the viability of wild primate populations.
(Spring 2008) Reconstructing Hominin Environments. This course will present methods used to reconstruct early hominid environment, discuss local and global ecological and climate events that occurred over the past 15 million years, and contrast different opinions as to their implications to key events in human evolution such as speciation, evolution of niche structure, dispersal events, and extinctions. 4 cr.