Anthropology

Professors: Colleen B. Cohen (Chair), Judith L. Goldsteina, Lucy Lewis Johnson; Associate Professors: Martha Kaplan, Anne Pike-Tay;Assistant Professor: Thomas Porcello; Visiting Assistant Professor:Barbara Bianco.

The field of anthropology seeks to promote a holistic understanding of social life by offering complex accounts of human histories, societies and cultures. Anthropologists undertake ethnographic, archival, and archaeological research on the varied aspects of individual and collective experience in all time periods and parts of the world. The Department of Anthropology offers a wide range of options for majors and for nonmajors in recognition of the broad interdisciplinary nature of the field. Nonmajors from all classes may choose courses at any level
with permission of the instructor and without introductory anthropology as a prerequisite.

Requirements for Concentration: 12 units including 201 and 301. Students are required to take courses in at least three of the four fields of anthropology; those being archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. The remaining courses are to be chosen from among the departmental offerings in consultation with the adviser in order to give the student both a strong focus within anthropology and an overall understanding of the field. Students are required to achieve familiarity with the peoples and cultures of at least two areas of the world. Of the 12 required units, three must be taken at the 300-level. With the consent of the adviser, students may petition the department to take up to 2 of the 12 required units in courses outside the department which are related to their focus. Once a course plan has been devised, it must be approved by the department faculty.

NRO: One introductory course taken NRO may count towards the major if a letter grade is received. If a student receives a PA for an introductory course taken under the NRO option, that student must complete 13 courses for an anthropology major. No other required courses for the major may be taken NRO.

Requirements for a Correlate Sequence: 6 units to include 1 unit at the 100-level and 2 units at the 300-level. Courses should be chosen in consultation with an anthropology department adviser in order to a) complement the student's major and b) form a coherent focus within anthropology. Possible concentrations include cultural studies, field work, evolution, archaeology, language. One introductory course taken NRO may count towards the correlate sequence if a letter grade is received. If a student receives a PA for an introductory course taken under the NRO option, that student must complete seven courses for an anthropology correlate sequence. No other required courses for the correlate sequence may be taken NRO.

Recommendations: The field experience is essential to the discipline of anthropology. Therefore, majors are urged to take at least one field work course or engage in field work during the summer.

Advisers: The department.

Vassar Program in Anthropological Experience

The department offers students the opportunity for fieldwork/research projects abroad in conjunction with established programs and in consultation with members of the department.


I. Introductory

100a. Archaeology (1)

In this course students learn how archaeologists dig up physical remains, tools, and houses and use these data to reconstruct and understand past cultures. The methods and theory behind archaeological recovery, problem solving, and interpretation are learned through the use of selected site reports, articles from all over the world, and hands on experimentation. Ms. Johnson.

120b. Human Origins (1)

This course introduces current and historical debates in the study of human evolution. Primate studies, genetics, the fossil record and paleoecology are drawn upon to address such issues as the origins of nature of human cognition, sexuality, and population variation. Ms. Pike-Tay.

140a or b. Cultural Anthropology (1)

An introduction to central concepts, methods, and findings in cultural anthropology, including culture, cultural difference, the interpretation of culture, and participant-observation. The course uses cross-cultural comparison to question scholarly and commonsense understandings of human nature. Topics may include sexuality, kinship, political and economic systems, myth, ritual and cosmology, and culturally varied ways of constructing race, gender, and ethnicity. Students undertake small research projects and explore different styles of ethnographic writing. Ms. Cohen, Ms. Goldstein.

150a or b. Linguistic Anthropology (1)

This course provides the student with a practical introduction to structuralist methods of linguistic analysis. There is a focus on both theoretical discussions about, and practical exercises in, the phonology, morphology, and syntax of natural human languages. In general, the course explores the way in which languages provide a shared means for representing the surrounding world. The different ways languages do this are explored in theory and practice. The course is intended both as a general introduction to linguistics and as a foundation for more advanced courses in related areas. Mr. Porcello.

180a. The Body, Sex and Style in American Popular Culture (1)

This writing intensive seminar supplies students with a strong background in the theory and modes of criticism which apply to the study of popular culture. By examining specific research techniques and critical strategies, we analyze the various approaches and practices used to assess the content, structure, and context ( including effect) of significant cultural artifacts in American society. In surveying contemporary American popular culture, we focus on the changing roles, attitudes, and values associated with cultural conceptions of the body, sex, and style. Background readings, examinations of current criticism, and beginning practice in media criticism are employed.

Open to freshman only: satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Course.


II. Intermediate

201a. History of Anthropological Theory (1)

The aim of this course is to provide a broad overview of anthropological theory from its origins in the Enlightenment to the present day, and to explore the ways in which theory is integrally related to method, data and modes of ethnographic representation. Ms. Kaplan.

[212. World Musics] (1)

(Same as Music 212)

Not offered in 2000/01.

231a. Topics in Archaeology (1)

An examination of topics of interest in current archaeological analysis. We examine the anthropological reasons for such analyses, how analysis proceeds, what has been discovered to date through such analyses, and what the future of the topic seems to be. Possible topics include tools and human behavior, lithic technology, the archaeology of death, prehistoric settlement systems, origins of material culture.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01a: Tools and Human Behavior. This course provides an introduction to theories of technological change in prehistory and the recent past. It draws upon scholarship in the history of technology, economic history, evolutionary theory, and anthropology. It critically examines the popular notion that technology advances by the efforts of a few heroic individuals who produce revolutionary inventions owing little or nothing to the technological past. Finally, it emphasizes the relationship between invention and art, by focusing on human abilities such as spatial visualization and the use of metaphor. Ms. Pike-Tay.

232a or b. Topics in Biological Anthropology (1)

This course covers topics within the broad field of biological (or physical) anthropology ranging from evolutionary theory to the human fossil record to the identification of human skeletal remains from crime scenes and accidents. Bioanthropology conceptualizes cultural behavior as an integral part of our behavior as a species. Topics covered in this course may include human evolution, primate behavior, population genetics, human demography and variation, or forensic anthropology.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01a: Function and Evolution of the Human Skeleton.The skeleton is the most useful single structure in the body as an indicator of general body form and function. Muscles, tendons and ligaments leave marks where they attach to bones, and from such marks we can assess the form and size of the body's soft anatomy and function. Studies of fossil bones and teeth are direct behavioral indicators; providing information regarding diet, locomotor patterns, and health status of the animals of which they were a part. In this course we compare the anatomy and physiology of living animals especially monkeys and apes-with that of living humans to enhance our understanding of the relationship between form and function. In addition, the evolution of the skeletal functional morphology of the primate order is emphasized throughout the course. Ms. Johnson.

Prerequisites: Anthropology 120, Biology 226, or permission of the

instructor.

Topic for 2000/01b: Primates. Since the early part of this century, monkeys and apes have been given special status as natural objects that can show humans our pre-rational and pre-cultural origins. The objective of this course is to introduce students to major theoretical issues and methodological approaches in the anthropological study of nonhuman primates and how these have changed over time. Topics considered include theories of domination and of production and reproduction in primate behavior studies, along with their relevance to "human nature". Ms. Pike-Tay.

Prerequisites: Courses in anthropology, geology, or biology or by permission of instructor.

235b. Area Studies in Prehistory (1)

This course is a detailed, intensive investigation of archaeological remains from a particular geographic region of the world. The area investigated varies from year to year and includes such areas as Eurasia, North America, and the native civilizations of Central and South America.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01b: Native American Civilizations. In three areas of prehistoric America, cultures developed to the state of complexity recognized as civilization: Highland Mexico, the Mayan Area, and the Central Andes. This course examines the development of civilization in each of these areas, various hypotheses concerning these developments, and the influence of each one upon the other two. Ms. Johnson.

240a. Area Studies in Ethnography (1)

The detailed, intensive study of societies within a particular geographic region of the world. The regions covered vary from year to year, and include such areas as Europe, Africa, the American Southwest, Central America, and Oceania.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01a: Ethnography of American Society. This course examines American society through an ethnographic lens. It is organized around case studies dealing with kinship and community, religion, medicine, immigration, and popular culture. Questions are raised about the ways Americans have imagined and "invented" themselves, their neighborhoods, and their nation. Ms. Bianco.

[242b. High Latitude Anthropology] (1)

The High Latitudes presented humanity with an unusual challenges when they were settled in the late Pleistocene. Characterized by extreme cold, a dearth of plants and rich fauna on the land and in the seas, they called forth biological and cultural adaptations from their human inhabitants. This course concentrates on peoples of the far north, with comparative materials from the far south, looking at the myriad adjustments in technology, material culture, social structure, and ideology necessary to compete with this extreme environment. Ms. Johnson.

Not offered in 2000/01.

245b. The Ethnographer's Craft (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 245) This course introduces students to the methods employed in constructing and analyzing ethnographic materials by combining readings, classroom lectures, and discussions with regular field exercises. Students will gain experience in participant-observation, fieldnote-taking, interviewing, survey sampling, domain analysis, symbolic analysis, quantitative analysis, the use of archival documents and contemporary media in ethnographic work, and how to formulate field problems. Attention is also be paid to current concerns with interpretation and modes of representation. Required for students intending to enroll in Anthropology 345. Ms. Cohen.

247a. Modern Social Theory: Marx, Durkheim, and Weber (1)

(Same as Sociology 247a)

[250b. Topics in Language and Culture] (1)

This course draws on a wide range of theoretical perspectives in exploring a particular problem, emphasizing the contribution of linguistics to issues that bear on research in a number of disciplines. Mr. Porcello.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Not offered in 2000/01.

[253a. Language and Society] (1)

This course surveys the analytical methods and substantive findings of research which explores the relations between language, society and the individual. At issue are the complex ways in which society and the individual are interrelated in the act of using language in particular speech communities. Topics explored, for example, include standard and nonstandard registers, code switching, and "biased" language. More generally, the course explores the origins and uses of socio-linguistic practices and beliefs as they relate to both the politics of a society and the related political nature of social interactions in that society. Critical consideration is furthered by careful attention to cross-cultural variation and to the ways in which the uses of language are ideologically reinforced by different social institutions (such as the mass media). Such cross-cultural comparisons attempt to interpret materials taken from contemporary America. Mr. Porcello.

Prerequisite: Anthropology 150 or by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2000/01.

255b. Language and Gender (1)

This course focuses on language as a cultural means of communication. Gender is approached both as a grammatical category and as a social category of person linked to different kinds of language use. The course explores the way in which language use and ideologies about language use both inform and are informed by gender. The investigation of language and gender and of gender-related social movements are explored from a cross-cultural perspective. Mr. Porcello.

270a or b. Current Themes in Anthropological Theory and Method (1)

The focus is upon particular cultural subsystems and their study in cross-cultural perspective. The subsystem selected varies from year to year. Examples include: kinship systems, political organizations, religious beliefs and practices, verbal and nonverbal communication.

May be repeated for credit if topic has changed.

Topics for 2000/01a: Public Health . This course examines the world of public health through a cultural lens. It is organized around case studies dealing with epidemic and infectious disease, environmental disasters and workplace maladies, and campaigns to improve health and eradicate social ills. Questions are raised about the imagery of disease and the evocation of suffering, the structural and ideological underpinnings of scientific authority, the rise of medical surveillance and the dynamics of state intervention into the "private" aspects of peoples' lives, and the rhetorics of responsibility that enable and constrain the efforts of individuals and groups to respond to public health predicaments. Ms. Bianco.

Culture, Power and History. This course examines the turn to historical questions in current anthropology. What are the implications of cultural difference for an understanding of history, and of history for an understanding of culture? Recent works which propose new ways of thinking about western and non-western peoples and the power to make history are read. Theoretical positions include structure and history, world system, hegemony and resistance, and discourse approaches. Historical/ethnographic situations range from New Guinea cargo cults to the English industrial revolution, from the history of sugar as a commodity to the colonizing of Egypt, from debates about the sexuality of women and Hindu gods in Fiji to the role of spirit mediums in the struggle for Zimbabwe. Ms. Kaplan.

Topic for 2000/01b: Anthropology Goes to the Movies: Film Video & Ethnography. This course examines how film and video are used in ethnography as tools for study and as means of ethnographic documentary and representation. Topics covered include history and theory of visual anthropology, issues of representation and audience, indigenous film, and contemporary ethnographic approaches to popular media. Ms. Cohen.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

Two 75-minute periods, plus 3-hour preview laboratory.

272b. Anthropological Approaches to Myth, Ritual and Symbol (1)

What is the place of myth, ritual, and symbol in human social life? Do symbols reflect reality, or create it? This course considers answers to these questions in social theory (Marx, Freud, and Durkheim) and in major anthropological approaches (functionalism, structuralism, and symbolic anthropology). It then reviews current debates in interpretive anthropology about order and change, power and resistance, and the role of ritual in the making of history. Ethnographic studies include Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, sixteenth-century Italy, the Seneca, and the U.S. Ms. Kaplan.

[274a. Anthropology of Art] (l)

This course develops a cultural framework for the investigation of artistic expression by drawing upon anthropological approaches, semiotics and aesthetics to examine art and culture. Topics such as the origins of art and symbolic expression in human prehistory; Western representations of nonWestern art; connoisseurship; the market economy, and the categories of "fine art," "tourist art," and "graffiti art" are addressed. Ms. PikeTay.

Not offered in 2000/01.

282a. Technology and the American Music Industry (1)

(Same as American Culture 282) Mr. Porcello, Mr. Moore.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

Individual or group field projects or internships. May be elected during the college year or during the summer. Open to all students. The department.

297a or b. Reading Course in Archaeological Field Methods (1/2)

Ms. Johnson.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Individual or group project of reading or research. May be elected during the college year or during the summer. The department.


III. Advanced

300a or b. Senior Thesis (1)

The department.

301b. Senior Seminar (1)

A close examination of current theory in anthropology, oriented around a topic of general interest, such as history and anthropology, the writing of ethnography, or the theory of practice. Students write a substantial paper applying one or more of the theories discussed in class. Readings change from year to year. Ms. Goldstein.

305a. Topics in Advanced Biological Anthropology (1)

An examination of such topics as primate structure and behavior, the Plio-Pleistocene hominids, the final evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens,forensic anthropology, and human biological diversity.

Prerequisite: Anthropology 232 or by permission of instructor.

May be repeated for credit if topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01a: Seminar in Forensic Anthropology and Paleopathology. This course is an advanced introduction to the subfields of Forensic Anthropology, the application of osteological and anthropological techniques to the law; and of Paleopathology, the investigation of incidences of trauma, infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and other conditions that leave evidence on human bones. Prominent case studies such as the identification of members of the Russian imperial family; of missing American soldiers in East Asia; and of recent war-crime victims from Latin America, Africa, and the Balkans, all of which have required the analyses of forensic anthropologists and paleopathologists are reviewed. Ms. Pike-Tay.

[310a. Consumer Culture] (1)

An examination of classic and recent work on the culture of consumption. Among the topics we study are gender and consumption, the creation of value, commodity fetishism, the history of the department store, and the effect of Western goods on non-Western societies. Ms. Goldstein.

Not offered in 2000/01.

331b. Seminar in Archaeological Method and Theory (1)

(Same as Science, Technology and Society 331) The theoretical underpinnings of anthropological archaeology and the use of theory in studying particular bodies of data. The focus ranges from examination of published datacovering topics such as architecture and society, the origin of complex society, the relationship between technology and ecologyto more laboratory-oriented examination of such topics as archaeometry, archaeozoology, or lithic technology.

Prerequisites: 200-level work in archaeology or by permission of instructor.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01b: Technology and Ecology. Examines the interactions between human beings and their environment as mediated by technology from stone tools up to but not including machine technology. Includes some experimentation with primitive technologies. Ms. Johnson.

[345a or b. Anthropological Experience] (21/2)

Ethnographic work in selected areas of the world under approved supervision. The student spends six months under an approved field supervisor in a location selected in conjunction with his/her supervisor and with the approval of the department. The student learns how to record and order data, interview informants, reformulate field problems, devise suitable methodologies, write field reports and field summaries. Field work may be undertaken either from June to January or from January to June, the option chosen depends on the area of the world to which the student is going, the field plans of the supervisor, and the course plan of the student. The department.

Permission of the department.

Not offered in 2000/01.

[346a or b-347a or b. Field Reports] (1/2)

Upon return to campus from the Anthropological Experience (345a or b), a brief Preliminary Report (346a or b) must be submitted one week after commencement of classes. The Final Report (347a or b) will consist of a detailed ethnographic description and analysis of the field data. The department.

Prerequisite: Anthropology 345a or b.

Permission of the department.

Not offered in 2000/01.

351a. Linguistic Seminar (1)

This course provides the advanced student with an intensive review of theoretical issues and practical problems in specific areas of linguistic research. Emphasizing linguistic modes of analysis and argumentation, each topic culminates in independent research projects. Mr. Porcello.

Prerequisites: Previous coursework in linguistics or by permission of instructor.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01a: Sound. Taking advantage of the Department of Anthropology's new sound analysis laboratory, this seminar centers on the examination of acoustic, perceptual, and cultural dimensions of aural phenomena. Linguistics is one focal area of the course, in which we pursue both qualitative and quantitative analyses of paralinguistic and prosodic features (pitch, intonation, rhythm, timbre, formants), acoustic phonetics, and especially issues of sound symbolism (onomatopoeia, iconicity, metaphor, and synaesthesia). Additional topics of discussion include relationships between sound structure and social structure as investigated by anthropologists and ethnomusicologists, the cultural history of sound (as encoded in regulatory practices such as public noise ordinances, as well as in architectural and technological designs), and the computer-assisted transcription of linguistic, musical, and other aural phenomena. Students are encouraged to use the lab as a resource for their final research project. Mr. Porcello.

362b. Male and Female in Anthropological Perspective (1)

The course begins with an overview of the position of men and women according to recent anthropological theory, and in so doing examines how including women affects mainstream anthropological theory. The course compares the classification of sex differences and images of men and women with their social roles. Representations of women in popular culture are studied. Ms. Bianco.

Topic for 2000/01b: Women in Medicine. This course examines the gendered dimensions of medicine, with particular emphasis on women. It uses ethnographies and historical studies to explore "women's" health issues and the changing roles of women within the field of medicine and its allied occupations. Questions will be raised about the cultural construction and experience of illness, treatment, and medical knowledge. Ms. Bianco.

366b. Problems in Cultural Analysis (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 366b) Covers a variety of issues current in modern anthropology in terms of ongoing discussion among scholars of diverse opinions rather than a rigid body of fact and theory.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2000/01b: Colonial and Post-Colonial Societies. This course examines recent scholarship on colonial and post-colonial societies. Beginning with classic critiques of Western colonialism, the course also considers non-Western imperial projects, and examines increasingly attentive scholarship on experiences of colonization, and the rise of anti-colonial and nationalist movements, turning finally to works on decolonization and post-coloniality. The course reviews analytic paradigms from world system to discourse theories, and considers cases drawn from Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. Ms. Kaplan.

386b. The Languages of Media Culture (1)

The major issues and methods in this course dissect, reflect and amplify the practices and artifacts of contemporary media culture. Required readings, lectures and discussions emphasize the varying ways scholars have approached the subject of media and culture. Students develop research in particular areas of media culture. Topics include: media codes, media forms and media content; media as language, culture, epistemology and technology; the biases of media; media and communication; media literacy; technological phenomena; media affects/effects; and propaganda. Mr. Lipton.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Individual or group project of reading or research. May be elected during the college year or during the summer. The department.


Anthropology-Geography

For curricular offerings see page 189.