500 Level Courses
500 Level Courses
AN 505 Asian Development: The Case of Women (Area)
This course focuses on how women’s lives in China, Japan, and India have been affected by economic development and social change. Women’s education, health, family roles, childrearing, and labor force participation are considered in the context of socioeconomic and cultural influences. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Asian Studies Minors]
AN 510 Proposal Writing for Social Science Research
Prereq: Consent of instructor; required of undergraduate honors students. 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. SS 4 cr.
AN 515 Authenticity and Identity
This course explores the idea of the authentic self in Western culture using readings from authors such as Montesquieu, Hegel, Rousseau, Diderot, Moliere, and Nietzsche. An historical and cross-cultural perspective is provided through examples from medieval Europe, Pakistan, America, Bali, and China. SS 4 cr.
AN 519 Kinship
This course takes up 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. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards minor in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies]
AN 520 Nilotic Peoples: African Culture in Depth (Area)
This course 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, the British African tradition of ethnography and theory central to anthropology. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards African Studies Minor]
AN 521 Sociolinguistics
An introduction to language in its social context. The course focuses on methodological and theoretical approaches to sociolinguistics. Topics of reading and discussion include linguistic variation in relation to situation, gender, socioeconomic class, linguistic context, and ethnicity. Lectures integrate micro- and macro-analysis from the conversational level to societal language planning. SS 4 cr.
AN 524 Seminar: Language and Culture Contacts in Contemporary Africa
Prereq: Consent of instructor.
This course examines the concepts and theoretical approaches to the study of language variation and change in sociociolinguistics/linguistic anthropology. It examines internal and external factors that trigger language variation and change and the social attitudes associated with them. The nexus between diachronic and synchronic changes is reanalyzed in light of the Labovian variationist model. The course also introduces students to the subfield of Forensic Linguistics known as LADO (Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin). It examines the key methodological and ethical issues in the increasing use of language analyses in the determination of genuine and bogus asylum claims in many Western countries. SS 4 cr
AN 525 Ritual and Political Identity
Prereq: Senior standing or consent of instructor. This course 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. SS 4 cr.
AN 532 Literacy and Islam in Africa (Area)
Prereq: Consent of instructor. Prior knowledge of Arabic or an African language is not required.
This course examines indigenous literary traditions of Islamic Africa. It examines the Islamization of Africa and the development of the rich literary traditions known as Ajami (African languages written with the Arabic script). It considers the forms, contents, and goals of Ajami materials and their role in the spread of Islam and the reverse effect of African influences on Islam. The Arabic and Ajami materials produced by enslaved Africans in the Americas are also discussed. The course provides access to important sources of indigenous knowledge largely missed in existing studies on Islamic Africa. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Minor in African Languages and Literatures, Minor in Muslim Studies & MENA Major]
AN 534 Advanced Topics in Human Behavioral Evolution
Prereq: Consent of instructor. Topics in the behavioral evolution of Homo sapiens ncluding social and sexual behavior, tool traditions, diet and hunting, language and intelligence, and locomotion. This course considers (inferred) behavioral transitions that characterized the origin of our genus and our species. NS 4 cr.
AN 538 Human Ecology of Modern Africa (Area)
This course explores four themes of twentieth-century change in Africa: demographic growth, the redistribution of population through migration and urbanization, the intensification of resource use, and disasters and recoveries. Classic theories of these processes are related to African data. SS 4 cr.
AN 540 Anthropology and Aesthetics
Prereq: Consent of instructor. An introduction to the anthropological study of art and aesthetics. Examples are taken from Africa, Native America, Oceania, and Australia. The deeper aim of the course is to examine the degree to which aesthetics reflect, express, and inform the cultures in which they are found. SS 4 cr.
AN 541 Modernity Seminar
This seminar looks at the phenomenon of modernity from a multidisciplinary point of view. Course readings and discussion focus on the cultural foundations of modernity, specifically and primarily nationalism but also Romanticism, science, and major political ideologies. Also analyzed are modernization and development as studied by social scientists; modernism and postmodernism in literary and cultural studies; and the nature of man and society in the perspectives of modern philosophy. SS 4 cr.
AN 547 Topics: Muslim Societies and Islamic Civilizations (Area)
Current issues and debates in anthropology focusing on contemporary Muslim societies and Islamic civilizations.
(Fall 2007) Afghanistan: Problems and Prospects
This course considers ethnographic and historical accounts 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 are also addressed.
(Fall 2004) Media, Market, and Material Culture in Muslim Society
This course examines the role of media, the market, and material culture in shaping the intersection of Islam and society. It considers Islam as commodity and fashion, as fiction and film, as popular discourse, and as global as well as local narrative. Readings, discussion, and films focus on the effects of these on the lives of Muslims in a variety of settings. SS 4 cr.
AN 548 Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History (Area)
An introduction to the main themes, states, empires, faiths, and ideologies of the Muslim world that takes advantage of the wealth of resources Boston University has to offer across its many departments. The world areas considered 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, the course examines themes that influence the multiple regions, while providing select states, empires, and ideologies as case studies for further development. The course provides a combination of lectures and discussion sessions and includes guest lectures from BU faculty who specialize in the study of the Muslim world. SS 4 cr
AN 549 Savagery: Fact, Fiction, and Factual Fiction
This course examines the imaginings and stereotypes of savagery as they have changed over time, comparing and contrasting them to what anthropologists have found in some real human cultures and societies. Special attention is paid to African and Native American people who have often been depicted in the past in fanciful ways (for instance, as human-animal hybrids or transitional forms) and have more recently come into sharper ethnographic focus. The course also devotes attention to some contemporary contexts, for instance areas in civil strife, in which it is not essential qualities of cultures, but situations of contact and interaction, that are deemed savage — or that incline persons involved to think or act in such a way. Finally, bringing nonhuman animals back into the picture, the course asks whether some contemporary human habits and customs that many would call civilized might be construed, from a distance or in retrospect, as savage instead. SS 4 cr.
AN 550 Human Skeleton
Prereq: AN 102, BI 106, or consent of instructor. Anatomy, 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. NS 4 cr.
AN 551 Anthropology and Human Heredity
Prereq: AN 102 and consent of instructor. This course surveys the theory and methods of evolutionary genetics as applied to human populations. Topics covered include the organization and inheritance of the human genome, methods for assaying and interpreting genetic variation, the genetic changes that distinguish humans from apes, the location and timing of the origin of humans, the colonization of the world, and the role of genetics in the study of disease and population (i.e., “race”). NS 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. NS 4 cr.
AN 554 Reproductive Ecology
Prereq: AN 263 or consent of instructor. This course investigates the processes that regulate fertility in human populations in the absence of modern contraception. The course adopts 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. NS 4 cr.
AN 555 Evolutionary Medicine
Prereq; AN 102, BI 107, or consent of instructor. Why do we get sick? Evolutionary medicine seeks to answer this question by applying modern evolutionary theory to understanding health and disease among contemporary human populations. Topics include chronic and infectious disease, mental illness, allergies, autoimmunity, and drug addiction. NS 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. NS 4 cr.
AN 557 Anthropology of Mental Health
Prereq: Junior standing and AN 101, AN 102, or AN 210, or consent of instructor. This course 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. SS 4 cr.
AN 558 Human Sex Differences: Behavior, Biology, and Ecology
Prereq: Sophomore standing and AN 102. 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. NS 4 cr.
AN 563 Public Religion and Politics across Cultures
Prereq: Junior standing or consent of instructor. An examination of the contested role of religion in modern politics and its implications for civil life. The course begins with the West and includes Islam in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Case studies include evangelicalism in Latin American and Africa, Hindu nationalism, and Buddhism in China. SS 4 cr. [Cross-listed with IR 563]
AN 568 Symbol, Myth, and Rite
This course is an historical overview of ritual behavior. It examines the role of symbolism in the study of culture and the narrative quality of worldview and belief. Emphasis is placed on verbal performance and the analysis of public ritual events in specific cultural contexts. SS 4 cr.
AN 570 Lovers and Leaders: The Anthropology of Romance and Charisma
This course offers a comparison of theories of charismatic leadership and romantic love from sociology and psychology using case studies from the literature. SS 4 cr.
AN 571 The Anthropology of Emotion
This course provides an outline of current and classical conceptual frameworks for the study of emotion, including material from psychology, neurobiology and evolutionary psychology. The focus, however, is on how cultural anthropology has understood emotion, as experience, as cognition, and as symbolic system. SS 4 cr.
AN 573 The Ethnography of Taiwan and China (Area)
Prereq: Junior standing or consent of instructor. This course is focused on the reading of major ethnographies and modern histories on Taiwan and China as a basis for examining changing Taiwanese and Chinese culture and society. Course lectures and discussion will also attend to a consideration of ethnography as a genre. SS 4 cr. [Counts towards Asian Studies Minor]
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. SS 4 cr.
AN 585 Advanced Readings in African Ethnography (Area)
This course explores ecological adaptation, kinship, social organization, religious thought and practice, and creative expression. Special focus is placed on the history of theory, method, and narrative style in the construction of African ethnographies. SS 4 cr.
AN 589 The Anthropology of Development Theory and Practice
Prereq: Junior standing or consent of instructor. This course explores anthropological texts that try to grapple with, make sense of, and ultimately challenge the international development enterprise. It considers whether, amidst these critiques, anthropology can imagine an alternative discourse and practice of betterment. SS 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 analysis. SS 4 cr.
AN 593 Seminar: Topics in Cultural Anthropology (Fall)
Prereq: Junior standing or consent of instructor. This course is intended to give advanced students a chance to discuss current issues and debates in anthropology.
(Fall 2007 Section A1) Ethnography of Taiwanese Society
This seminar examines the modern history of Taiwan, focusing in particular on the dramatic changes witnessed over the last century and Taiwan’s relationship to Chinese culture and society. Major ethnographic and historical treatments of Taiwan are read with an eye on methodology and theory. Topics for discussion 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. SS 4 cr.
(Fall 2007 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. Lectures introduce key issues in child development (plasticity, heritability, environmental variations, cultural practices, and contextual methods). Discussion examines topics such as parenting, attachment, language socialization, social interactions and relationships, children’s work and play, and the formation of self. SS 4 cr.
(Fall 2005) The Anthropology of Performance
This seminar 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. Topics of discussion 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. SS 4 cr.
SS 4 cr.
AN 594 Seminar: Topics in Cultural Anthropology (Spring)
Prereq: Junior standing or consent of instructor. This course is intended to give advanced students a chance to discuss current issues and debates in anthropology.(Spring 2016) Global Intimacies: Sex, Gender, and Contemporary Sexualities
This course explores theoretical and ethnographic approaches to gender, sex, and sexuality in relation to globalizing discourses, transnational mobilities, and comparative modernities. Readings focus on ethnographic case studies from different parts of the world that illustrate the evolving intersections of sex, labor power, love, and marriage and engage a variety of theoretical approaches drawn from anthropology , gender studies, feminism, and migration studies. This course is particularly relevant to those with an academic interest in the intimate cultural and critical politics of sex, love, labor and marriage within the context of modernity, cultural complexity, and global capitalisms.
(Spring 2009 & 2007) Culture and Emotions
This seminar 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 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. SS 4 cr.
(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 seminar 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”), reading and discussion examine 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. SS 4 cr.
(Spring 2006) Political Anthropology in a Global World
This seminar 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 seminar examines these theoretical debates, which deal with sovereignty, imperialism, and the interaction between the different types of political spaces. SS 4 cr.
AN 595 Field Methods in Biological Anthropology
Prereq: CAS AN 102 or BI 107. An exploration of the field methods used in human biology and biological anthropology. Approaches used to study both humans and non-human primates are introduced with students participating in hands-on exercises to learn these techniques. Topics include methods for assessing health, body composition, diet, energetics, morphological adaptations, psychological stress, reproductive status, habitat composition, spatial movements, and primate conservation. Focus is placed on how these methods are used to answer questions related to human and primate adaptations and evolution. Comparisons between humans and the great apes are emphasized. Both on and off-campus labs, including field and wet-lab exercises. NS 4 cr.
AN 596 Anthropology and History
This course 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. SS 4 cr.
AN 597 Special Issues in Biological Anthropology (Fall)
Prereq: AN 102 and consent of instructor. This course is intended to give advanced students a chance to discuss current controversies in human evolution, biology, and behavior.
(Fall 2015) Project Design and Statistics in Biological Anthropology
Statistical methods are the back bone of scientific research, but are often given short shrift when designing research in biological anthropology. The purpose of this seminar is two -fold: 1) to familiarize students with the use of relevant statistical programming packages (R and SPSS), and 2) to discuss select advances in statistical techniques from related disciplines that may help students while designing and implementing their own research projects. Potential foci of discussion may include statistical methods for accounting for small sample sizes or non-normal data, using power analyses and preliminary statistics to justify data collection design, and the use of mixed models and informational theoretic approaches to analyze a number of different data types. Although there will be a discussion element to the seminar, students would see this course as a guided workshop or practicum in which we learn by working with both our own and previously published datasets. Students interested in the seminar should contact the instructor prior to registering to discuss their previous experience with statistics and a potential project, dataset, and /or funding proposal that will be the focus of their time in the course. NS 4cr.
(Fall 2014) Human Growth and Development
An analysis of human growth and development from an evolutionary and cross-cultural perspective. Issues addressed include: the basic principles of human growth and development; techniques for assessing human growth status; comparative evolutionary perspectives on human growth, incorporating studies of living primates and fossil human ancestors; and endocrinal, social, and ecological determinants of variation in growth. Other topics include brain evolution, fetal programming, sexual dimorphism, senescence, immunity, and obesity. NS 4 cr.
AN 598 Special Issues in Biological Anthropology (Spring)
Prereq: AN 102 and consent of instructor. This course is intended to give advanced students a chance to discuss current controversies in human evolution, biology, and behavior.
(Spring 2014) Evolution of Cooperation
When one describes what propels evolution, “competition” or “exploitation” may be processes that first come to mind. However, cooperation and prosocial behavior, both within and between species, have also played a major role in the evolution of the earth’s organisms. Indeed, humans volunteer to give blood, pay taxes, and even risk their lives in defense of their country. This course examines theoretical and empirical evidence from human and non-human animals that explains how such puzzling behaviors could have evolved. NS 4 cr.
(Spring 2008) Reconstructing Hominin Environments
This course presents methods used to reconstruct early hominid environment, discusses local and global ecological and climate events that occurred over the past 15 million years, and contrasts different opinions as to their implications for key events in human evolution such as speciation, evolution of niche structure, dispersal events, and extinctions. NS 4 cr.
Spring 2006) Conserving Wild Primate Populations
This course introduces students to the primary scientific literature on primate conservation biology. Weekly topics 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. NS 4 cr.