Seminar focuses on core issues and approaches in anthropological theory and method. Studies theoretical frameworks for the analysis and integration of material from other subjects in cultural anthropology. Subject provides instruction and practice in writing and revision whereby students produce one paper that is appropriate for publication or as a proposal for funding. This course introduces students to some of the major social theories and debates that inspire and inform anthropological analysis. Over the course of the semester, we will investigate a range of theoretical propositions concerning such topics as agency, structure, subjectivity, history, social change, power, culture, and the politics of representation. Ultimately, all theories can be read as statements about human beings and the worlds they create and inhabit. We will approach each theoretical perspective or proposition on three levels: (1) in terms of its analytical or explanatory power for understanding human behavior and the social world; (2) in the context of the social and historical circumstances in which they were produced; and (3) as contributions to ongoing dialogues and debate.
This class examines how anthropology and speculative fiction (SF) each explore ideas about culture and society, technology, morality, and life in "other" worlds. We investigate this convergence of interest through analysis of SF in print, film, and other media. Concepts include traditional and contemporary anthropological topics, including first contact; gift exchange; gender, marriage, and kinship; law, morality, and cultural relativism; religion; race and embodiment; politics, violence, and war; medicine, healing, and consciousness; technology and environment. Thematic questions addressed in the class include: what is an alien? What is "the human"? Could SF be possible without anthropology?
Anthropology is the study of all humans in all times in all places. But it is so much more than that. “Anthropology requires strength, valor, and courage,” Nancy Scheper-Hughes noted. “Pierre Bourdieu called anthropology a combat sport, an extreme sport as well as a tough and rigorous discipline. … It teaches students not to be afraid of getting one’s hands dirty, to get down in the dirt, and to commit yourself, body and mind. Susan Sontag called anthropology a “heroic” profession.” What is the payoff for this heroic journey? You will find ideas that can carry you across rivers of doubt and over mountains of fear to find the the light and life of places forgotten. Real anthropology cannot be contained in a book. You have to go out and feel the world’s jagged edges, wipe its dust from your brow, and at times, leave your blood in its soil. In this unique book, Dr. Michael Wesch shares many of his own adventures of being an anthropologist and what the science of human beings can tell us about the art of being human. This special first draft edition is a loose framework for more and more complete future chapters and writings. It serves as a companion to anth101.com, a free and open resource for instructors of cultural anthropology.
Students examine the anthropological perspective of human culture, including such institutions as kinship, politics, and religion, and evaluate the interrelationship between culture, environment and biology. Students explore the effects of globalization on culture while developing critical thinking skills through the application of essential anthropological approaches, theories, and methods.Login: guest_oclPassword: ocl
This course examines computers anthropologically, as artifacts revealing the social orders and cultural practices that create them. Students read classic texts in computer science along with cultural analyses of computing history and contemporary configurations. It explores the history of automata, automation and capitalist manufacturing; cybernetics and WWII operations research; artificial intelligence and gendered subjectivity; robots, cyborgs, and artificial life; creation and commoditization of the personal computer; the growth of the Internet as a military, academic, and commercial project; hackers and gamers; technobodies and virtual sociality. Emphasis is placed on how ideas about gender and other social differences shape labor practices, models of cognition, hacking culture, and social media.
This course examines how medicine is practiced cross-culturally, with particular emphasis on Western biomedicine. Students analyze medical practice as a cultural system, focusing on the human, as opposed to the biological, side of things. Also considered is how people in different cultures think of disease, health, body, and mind.
This class examines the relationship between a number of mind-altering substances and cultural processes. We look at the relationship between drugs and such phenomena as poverty, religion, technology, inter-generational conflict, colonialism, and global capitalism. We read about the physiological and psychological effects of these substances -- ranging from alcohol to LSD, cocaine and ecstasy -- and ask why different societies prohibit and sanction different drugs. We examine the use of mind-altering substances in a number of "traditional" societies, and follow the development of a global trade in such substances as sugar, coffee, tea, nicotine, cocaine, and marijuana concurrent with the evolution of global capitalism. We look at the use of LSD as a mind-control substance by the CIA and as a mind-altering substance in the 1960's counter-culture, and we look at the rise of Prozacĺ¨ and Viagraĺ¨ as popular, if controversial, pharmaceutical products in recent years. Finally, we evaluate America's current drug laws.
A practicum-style course in anthropological methods of ethnographic fieldwork and writing, intended especially for STS, CMS, HTC, and Sloan graduate students, but open to others with permission of instructor. Depending on student experience in ethnographic reading and practice, the subject is a mix of reading anthropological and science studies ethnographies; and formulating and pursuing ethnographic work in local labs, companies, or other sites.
This course provides a broad conceptual and historical introduction to scientific theories of evolution and their place in the wider culture. It embraces historical, scientific and anthropological/cultural perspectives grounded in relevant developments in the biological sciences since 1800 that are largely responsible for the development of the modern theory of evolution by natural selection. Students read key texts, analyze key debates (e.g. Darwinian debates in the 19th century, and the creation controversies in the 20th century) and give class presentations.
Explores connections between what we eat and who we are through cross-cultural study of how personal identities and social groups are formed via food production, preparation, and consumption. Organized around critical discussion of what makes "good" food good (healthy, authentic, ethical, etc.). Uses anthropological and literary classics as well as recent writing and films on the politics of food and agriculture.
Where did we come from? What were our ancestors like? Why do we differ from other animals? How do scientists trace and construct our evolutionary history? The History of Our Tribe: Hominini provides answers to these questions and more. The book explores the field of paleoanthropology past and present. Beginning over 65 million years ago, Welker traces the evolution of our species, the environments and selective forces that shaped our ancestors, their physical and cultural adaptations, and the people and places involved with their discovery and study. It is designed as a textbook for a course on Human Evolution but can also serve as an introductory text for relevant sections of courses in Biological or General Anthropology or general interest. It is both a comprehensive technical reference for relevant terms, theories, methods, and species and an overview of the people, places, and discoveries that have imbued paleoanthropology with such fascination, romance, and mystery.
This course introduces diverse meanings and uses of the concept of culture with historical and contemporary examples from scholarship and popular media around the globe. It includes first-hand observations, synthesized histories and ethnographies, and visual and narrated representations of human experiences. Students conduct empirical research on cultural differences through the systematic observation of human interaction, employ methods of interpretative analysis, and practice convincing others of the accuracy of their findings.
Examines the dynamic interrelations among physical and behavioral traits of humans, environment, and culture to provide an integrated framework for studying human biological evolution and modern diversity. Topics include issues in morphological evolution and adaptation; fossil and cultural evidence for human evolution from earliest times through the Pleistocene; evolution of tool use and social behavior; modern human variation and concepts of race. Includes study of stone artifacts and fossil specimens.
This course explores how identities, whether of individuals or groups, are produced, maintained, and transformed. Students will be introduced to various theoretical perspectives that deal with identity formation, including constructions of "the normal." We will explore the utility of these perspectives for understanding identity components such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, language, social class, and bodily difference. By semester's end students will understand better how an individual can be at once cause and consequence of society, a unique agent of social action as well as a social product.
This class provides a space for medical students and MD/PhD students, as well as HASTS (History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society) PhD students to discuss social and ethical issues in the biosciences and biotechnologies as they are being developed. Discussions are with course faculty and with leading figures in developing technologies such as George Daley or George Church in stem cell or genomics research, Bruce Walker or Pardis Sabeti in setting up laboratories in Africa, Paul Farmer and Partners in Health colleagues in building local support systems and first world quality care in Haiti, Peru, and Rwanda, and Amy Farber in building patient-centered therapeutic-outcome research for critical but orphan" diseases. Goals include stimulating students to think about applying their learning in Boston to countries around the world, including using the experiences they have had in their home countries or research experience abroad. Goals also include a mix of patient-doctor care perspectives from medical anthropology, and moving upstream in the research chain to questions of how to move discoveries from basic research through the pipelines into clinical and bedside care. "
Introduction to Paleoanthropology covers the various species and subspecies that gave rise to human beings. Paleoanthropology is a subdiscipline of physical anthropology that focuses on the fossil record of humans and non-human primates.
Spiritual, magical, and "occult" aspects of human behavior in anthropological and historical perspective: magic, ritual curing, trance, spirit possession, sorcery, and accusations of witchcraft. Material drawn from traditional nonwestern societies, medieval and early modern Europe, and colonial and contemporary North America.
Native Peoples of North America is intended to be an introductory text about the Native peoples of North America (primarily the United States and Canada) presented from an anthropological perspective. As such, the text is organized around anthropological concepts such as language, kinship, marriage and family life, political and economic organization, food getting, spiritual and religious practices, and the arts. Prehistoric, historic and contemporary information is presented. Each chapter begins with an example from the oral tradition that reflects the theme of the chapter. The text includes suggested readings, videos, and classroom activities.
Examines theory and research on the relationship of organizations to each other and to their economic, political, and social environments. Classic and contemporary approaches to complex social systems, the dynamics of inertia and change, the role of legitimacy, and the production of change as an intended or unintended consequence. Considers the relative roles of voluntarism and determinism in the pursuit of organizational agendas and in the shaping of organizational environments, for example, with respect to changing employment relationships and environmentalism. Primarily for doctoral students. The goal of this doctoral course is to familiarize students with major conceptual frameworks, debates, and developments in contemporary organization theory. This is an inter-disciplinary domain of inquiry drawing primarily from sociology, and secondarily from economics, psychology, anthropology, and political science. The course focuses on inter-organizational processes, and also addresses the economic, institutional and cultural contexts that organizations must face. This is an introduction to a vast and multifaceted domain of inquiry. Due to time limitations, this course will touch lightly on many important topics, and neglect others entirely; its design resembles more a map than an encyclopedia. Also, given the focus on theoretical matters, methodological issues will move to the background. Empirical material will be used to illustrate how knowledge is produced from a particular standpoint and trying to answer particular questions, leaving the bulk of the discussion on quantitative and qualitative procedures to seminars such as 15.347, 15.348, and the like.
This class provides a historical survey of the ways that people have interacted with their closest animal relatives, for example: hunting, domestication of livestock, exploitation of animal labor, scientific study of animals, display of exotic and performing animals, and pet keeping. Themes include changing ideas about animal agency and intelligence, our moral obligations to animals, and the limits imposed on the use of animals.