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Power, Politics & Development

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Course Descriptions

1120 6.0 Making Sense of a Changing World: Anthropology Today

Course Directors: Profs. David Murray, Tania Ahmad

Time: Monday 10:30-12:30 VC 135

OR

Wednesday 12:30-2:30 ACW 109

In this course you will use anthropological approaches to increase your understanding of global issues in diverse locales. This course challenges you to engage with other ways of knowing and being, and to rethink your taken-for-granted knowledge and beliefs through the comparative analysis of the human condition. This course will take a problem-based approach to a range of topics such as: the effects of race and racism, sources of religious conflict, alternate genders and sexualities, First Nations and health, international development and issues of social inequality. Students are encouraged to bring their own knowledge and experience as the first step in "thinking like an anthropologist" (i.e. rethinking the taken-for-granted). The emphasis in this course is developing skills (analytical thinking, writing).

This course will be team taught by two professors, each sharing and exploring their own research.

An intensive 6 credit, one term section of this course will also be offered in the winter term.


David Murray                Tania Ahmad
 
1130 6.0 Images of Resistance / Irresistible Images: Anthropology Through the Visual

Time: Thurs. 2:30-4:30 TEL 001

This course uses film, video, visual art, photography and social media such as webcams to explore foundational concepts in anthropology. We examine race, ethnicity, nationality, globalization, power, authority, politics, religion, gender, class, and sexuality through images produced by anthropologists as well as commercial and documentary filmmakers, photographers and artists. The course also examines visual representations of non-western cultures within and outside of western contexts, and asks questions about how visual technologies that can look deep into our bodies as well as far out into space are changing our understandings of what it means to be human in the 21st century.


Zulfikar Hirji

2100 6.0 From Empire to Globalization: Anthropological Approaches

 

Course Director: Prof. Antonio Sorge

Time: Thurs. 10:30-12:30 TEL 0014

This course analyzes and critiques the social and cultural foundations of historical and contemporary forms of capitalism, development and globalization. As part of this critique we examine forms of on-the-ground resistance around the world.

Course credit exclusions:  AP/ANTH 2100 3.00 (prior to Fall 2013).

NOTE: 2 hrs lecture, 1 hr tutorial

2140 3.0 Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory: Humanity's Journeys

Course director: Prof. Kathryn Denning

Time: (Fall) Thurs. 4:30-6:30 TEL 001

How did we, as human beings, become what we are? How do we know? This course has three main themes: first, the biological evolution of human beings and the historical development of human societies; second, the methods that palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists use to study those aspects of the human past; and third, the social context of such endeavours to know the past.

The course begins with a brief introduction to basic anthropological principles and archaeological methods. We then very briefly consider human biological evolution, and modern human variation. This course then becomes primarily concerned with culture, rather than biology, and proceeds to cover certain key events and processes in human history, including farming, the emergence of complex technology, sedentism and social stratification.

The course concludes by comparing several ancient societies (e.g. pre-contact North America, Neolithic Europe, and Easter Island), and discussing how archaeology is used to understand recent historic events and contemporary life. Throughout the course, we maintain a careful awareness of the social contexts in which archaeology is done.

Topics covered include: popular representations of archaeology, political uses of archaeology, disputes over human origins, issues surrounding the ownership of archaeological objects and the study of archaeological human remains, and conflicts and collaborations between archaeologists and indigenous peoples.

NOTE: 2 hrs lecture, 1 hr tutorial

2150 3.0 Early Civilizations: Complex Societies of the New and Old Worlds

Course director: Prof. Kathryn Denning

Time: (Winter) Thurs. 4:30-6:30 TEL 0001

What does it mean to be 'civilized'? What can we learn from the rise and fall of previous civilizations? How have ancient cultural legacies shaped our world? How were past lives like our own? This course introduces students to anthropological archaeology's view of ancient civilizations, and illuminates the web of connections that links them to our 21st century global civilization.

The course begins by surveying anthropological principles, archaeological methods, and theories about the emergence of complex societies. We then explore ancient Old World civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, China, Africa, and the Mediterranean. Next, more particular attention is given to the ancient New World civilizations (Aztec, Maya, Inka), and complex societies of North America (Mississippian, Iroquois, and Northwest Coast cultures).

Themes investigated include ancient writing systems, belief systems, human-environment interaction, urbanization, culture contact, imperialism, colonization, slavery, and the historic collision of the Old and New Worlds. Throughout, the course also examines the history of archaeology itself – how and why archaeology developed – and ponders the implications. The course concludes by appraising the forces, positive and negative, currently affecting archaeological heritage. These include descendant communities, repatriation, looting, tourism, the antiquities trade, the political deployment of archaeology, and the destruction of archaeological sites.

NOTE: 2 hrs lecture, 1 hr tutorial

3210 6.0 Public Anthropology

Course Director: Dr Victor Barac

Time: Wed. 11:30-2:30 ROSS N146

What should be the role of anthropology in the contemporary world? How can anthropology apply its methods and insights to local and global problems of inequality, injustice, and human suffering?

This course looks at the development of a publicly engaged anthropology that combines academic and applied anthropology in order to illuminate the larger social issues and problems of our times, encourage broad public conversations about them, and ultimately, affect social change.

We begin by tracing the ways that anthropologists have historically engaged with public issues and examine the implications of anthropology's critical rethinking of its theory and methods since the 1980s. We then examine key issues and case studies in Public Anthropology including: the impact of anthropological representations on the people they study; questions of cultural ownership and appropriation; debates around the repatriation of native artifacts and human remains held in museums; anthropologists' roles as advocates for indigenous peoples' political goals (such as land claims), and anthropologists' contributions to humanitarian and health crises (such as HIV/AIDS and TB).

NOTE: 2 hrs lecture, 1 hr tutorial

3030 3.0 Discourses of Colonialism

Course Director: Dr. Sandra Widmer

Time: (Winter) Thurs 11:30-2:30 ACW 303

What do sixteenth century explorer's accounts of cannibalism, late nineteenth century colonial census records of Fijian villages, and the 1989-90 exhibit Into the Heart of Africa at the Royal Ontario Museum have in common? They are all discourses of colonialism. They are part of a process by which much of the world has been, and still is, imagined and represented as an object of Euro-American expansion and control.

This course examines the role played by these and other practices and events in the formation of those attitudes and stereotypes that shape political and economic domination. The topics covered in this course cover three main themes. In the first section of the course, we trace the genealogies of "the other" by examining the historical foundations of European "imperial culture" in art, literature, and science. This section considers how these cultural forms shaped notions of gender, race, and human evolution and impelled the expansion of European empire through the representation of non-European peoples as needing salvation and requiring domination.

In the second section of the course, we consider how these historically situated discourses are linked to modernist images of salvation, education, labour, health, race, and gender in the establishment and maintenance of a colonial order. In the final section of the course, we look at the persistence of colonial discourse in contemporary, postcolonial theories of race, development, and globalization.

 

3120 6.0 The Anthropology of Tourism

Course director: Dr. Karl Schmid

Time: Mon. 2:30-5:30 ACW 205

Disneyland and Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park and East African safari parks, the Royal Ontario Museum and Maya ruins in Belize. Why are such varied places major sites in the western tourist imagination? What exactly are modern tourists looking for as they travel "into the heart of Africa" or up the Sepik River of New Guinea, and what effect does the presence of these guests have on the host societies? What is the allure of "sun, sex, sea, and sand" and who are the people who consume these sights? How is international tourism changing in the early twenty-first century and what are the implications of these changes for local cultures throughout the world?

These are just some of the questions and issues that we will be addressing in this course. In the first section of the course we will be considering approaches taken by social scientists to the study of 'The Tourist' in an attempt to understand some of the reasons behind the desire to travel and/or sight-see. First we will be considering the cultural construction of meaning through modern tourist practice - focusing on theories of authenticity and the "tourist gaze." Then we will be looking at recent theories of the 'postmodern' tourist that examine commodification and desire as central to late 20th c and early 21th c tourist practice. In the next section of the course we will shift to a consideration of the tourist site, looking at what happens when we travel.

Here we will consider the global inequalities that underlie tourism, the impact of tourism on expressive culture, sex tourism, the issue of alternative tourism, and the problem of 'nature' in tourist practice. We will also be considering recent interest in the role of tourism in the construction of politically and economically salient forms of local identity.

Format: three seminar hours

 

3170 6.0 Historical Anthropology & the Politics of History

Not offered 2013-14

This course examines (a) how and why anthropologists have incorporated history into their ethnographic work and (b) the ways in which the past is perceived and used, both by anthropologists and the people amongst whom they study.

 

3220 6.0 Greed, Globalization & the Gift: The Culture(s) of Capitalism

Course director: Dr. Karl Schmid

Time: Wed. 2:30-5:30 ACE 007

Global capitalism at the millennium is triumphant: Or is it? Are alternate models of "Economic Man" redundant, or can Economic "science" be contested on its home turf, the "free" market? Can anthropology offer unique insights into "modern" economies: or are we limited to reflection on the "gift" or "moral" economies posited by traditional economic anthropology?

This course has two main themes: first, it examines the nature of capitalist enterprise historically and ethnographically. It thus focuses upon the anthropology of capitalism and the capitalist firm, and the new multi-sited methods required to study a global economic system. We will examine the variety of forms of corporate capitalism (including the differences between agrarian and industrial capitalisms); the spread of capitalism and the "world system" through to the age of globalization; and the failure of neo-liberal development policies to deliver economic prosperity.

Secondly, this course aims to provide undergraduates with the critical tools they require to analyze the pervading neoliberal economic culture within which most current government, media and business discourses are couched. The "battle in Seattle", the Zapatista revolt in Chiapas and other attacks on the World Trade Organization all point to the increasing interconnection of global capital flows, neoliberal economic restructuring, and global movements of resistance. We will thus examine these movements through the use of alternate models of economic behaviour, such as those provided by the Substantivists, Political Economy approaches, and the work of Bruno Latour and the Critical Accounting Theorists.

Format: three seminar hours

 

3230 6.0 Women, Culture & Society

Course director: Dr Sandra Widmer

Time: Tues 8:30-11:30 ACW 306

 

This course explores the contributions of anthropology to the study of gender, and the contributions of feminism to anthropology. We begin with a critical look at the history of androcentric bias in anthropological field work and theory and then trace the anthropological study of women's lives from the emergence of the "anthropology of women" in the 1970s to contemporary feminist anthropology.

Drawing on ethnographic examples from around the world, we will explore women's lives in depth, taking the perspective that sex, gender, and sexuality are best understood as socially and culturally constructed categories cross cut by race, class, religion and nation. Among the specific topics covered in this course are: marriage and the family, adoption and parenting, midwifery and childbirth, fashion and beauty, globalization and women's work, and women's agency and political activism. We will also address a number of theoretical and methodological dilemmas raised by the relationship between feminism and anthropology.

Format: Three seminar hours

 

3370 3.0 Power & Violence: The Making of "Modernity"

Course director: Prof. Dan Yon

Time: (Winter) Wed 2:30-5:30 WC 118

This course will examine the place of organized political violence in the making of the most recent widespread, large-scale dominant social system: "modernity". During its making there has been a massive and unprecedented proliferation of organized violence within and between different groups, peoples, and states. But, even as this pattern is increasingly "globalized" and "normalized", it is deeply uneven in its sources and its causes, in its proliferation and its uses, and in its effects.

The first premise of the course is that if there is to be any understanding of this increasing proliferation and use of organized political violence in the historical making of our contemporary world, we need to enquire into three fundamental aspects of "violence" as a dimension of power: First, into ideologies of violence.

Second, the social and cultural organization of violence - i.e., how violence is "embedded" in everyday social relationships and practices as well as in certain specialized institutions.

Finally, the increasing incorporation of violence through the development and use of extreme forms of "technologies of destruction."

A second premise of the course is that if there is to be any potential resolution of the problems which the proliferation and use of organized violence generates, then attention must also be paid to the existence of "non-violent" ideologies, social organization, and "patterns of reconciliation" – even if these exist in only limited ways and contexts within these contemporary socio-cultural "life-forms".

Format: Three seminar hours

 

3400 6.0 The Politics of Recognition: Citizenship and Civil Society

Course director: Prof. Antonio Sorge

Time: Wed. 8:30-11:30 Ross N146

The idea of civil society has stirred social imaginations and political aspirations across the globe. It has also been the casualty of state responses to the "war on terror". The goal of this course is to examine the nature and the relevance of notions and discourses of civil society and citizenship and the lexicon of related constructs ("moral community", "public sphere", "democracy" and "civility") to contemporary societies.

Some of the questions we will explore include: What are the problems, paradoxes and possibilities presented by the importation of the ideas and practices of civil society and citizenship into different ethnographic contexts? What is the appeal of civil society and who sets the standards? Who is included or excluded and why? What does the language of citizenship really mean in contemporary societies? Through a variety of ethnographic case studies we will analyze the intersections of civil society and citizenship with gender and sexuality, race, religion, ethnicity, nationalism and class.

Format: Three seminar hours

 

3410 6.0 Critical Perspectives on Ethnicity & Nationalism

Course Director:  Dr. Natasha Beranek

Time: Thurs. 8:30-11:30 ACE 003

 

This course examines the concepts and practices of ethnicity and nationalism as bases of belonging and differentiation globally. Whether revealed in ethnocide/genocide or in multiculturalism and minority rights legislation, identity claims are deeply implicated in political changes including secession and violent conflict. Ethnic and ‘tribal” labels, once imposed in colonial contexts are now being remade in the contemporary world under pressures of citizenship, borders and im/migration, political upheavals and civil war, pop culture, tourism and environmentalism. Our analytical starting point for this course is that identities, ethnic and/or national, diasporic and/or cosmopolitan, are continually constructed and re/defined according to changing social conditions. We will explore how people negotiate identities in their daily lives, in their relationships and affiliations and how these are configured, mobilized or manipulated in local, national and international settings. Cases from the Balkans and former Soviet Republics, the Middle East, North America and Africa will be examined.

Course credit exclusion: AP/ANTH 3410 6.00 (prior to term Fall 2012).

 

 

3420 6.0 Indigenous Minorities & Human Rights

Course Director: Not Offered 2013-14

Time:

This course focuses on how nation states define majorities and minorities, and how such definitions are contested by populations striving for cultural, political and human rights. Questions include: How do people get classified as indigenous or aboriginal? How has globalization enhanced awareness of human rights?

 

3430 3.0 Money and Technologies of Exchange

Course Director: Not offered 2013-14

Time: TBA

Economic Anthropology has long examined non-market systems of exchange as a means of critiquing the cultural assumptions of market ideology. This course updates this anthropological critique through an ethnographic examination of the market, money, spheres of exchange, and alternative exchange technologies.

3440 3.0 Governmentality & Development: Selected Cases

Not Offered 2013-14

This course examines the idea of "development" in the context of European state formation, colonialism and globalization. It examines development in Indonesia or India, for example, through the lens of Michel Foucault's concepts of "biopower" and "governmentality" with an eye to explaining the "development of underdevelopment." Governmentality refers to "governmental rationality," the set of strategies, programs and social technologies by which states aim to structure the possibilities for individual action by managing and disciplining populations and spaces. Such programs are not always coherent, and the assemblages they form have contradictory effects on the ground. This course, for example, may look at the ways in which the colonial Dutch state and subsequent "New Order" government sought to reshape families, improve hygiene and farming, and manage "model villages" with the long term goal of economic "take-off".

3600 3.0 The Anthropology of Industrial Work in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Course Director: TBA

Time: (Fall) Mon. 11:30-2:30 SC303

With Globalization and the outsourcing of production, wide swaths of the third world have undergone rapid industrialization, usually in Free Trade Zones. Utilizing an ethnographic approach, this course analyzes the social and cultural transformations on the shop-floor, in the family and in the city in Western and non-Western countries undergoing the processes of industrialization and de-industrialization.

The emphasis will be on the variety of worker experiences in different cultural contexts from "spirit possession" in Malaysian electronics factories to familial production in the new sweat-shops of Italy and Spain; the impact of international and national patterns of worker migration demanded by flexible production; the re-organization of industrial production in the old industrial core regions, such as Sheffield, England; and emergent class politics in regions of flexible production.

3630 3.0 The Anthropology of Illicit Networks: Migration, Transnationalism and Informal Economies

Course Director: Maya Shapiro

Time: Fall Wed. 2:30-5:30 ACW 303

The rise of globalization has been accompanied by an intensification in both documented and, increasingly, undocumented migration. As the global political economy continues to create conditions of friction, violence and disconnection around the world, illicit networks engaged in the movement of everything from everyday consumer items to live human bodies are proliferating. Migrants are coming to rely on dangerous and elaborate networks of recruiters, transporters and corrupt officials to help them reach places of perceived safety and opportunity.

Drawing on recent ethnography on transnationalism, migration, and the informal economy, this course explores the role illicit networks play in global markets, the broader sociocultural transformations illicit networks are bringing about in the places where they operate, and the subjective experience of participating in illicit networks. Among the central questions we will ask are: how and to what degree does globalization spur undocumented migration; how do illicit networks shore-up or undermine modern nation-states; what constellations of power shape these networks; what kinds of human subjects does undocumented migration produce; and what imaginaries are created and/or disrupted by migrants en route and in place.

3640 6.0/HIST 3736 6.0A - Indigenous Struggles in the Andes

Course Director: A. Durston

Time: Monday 11:30-14:30

Introduces students to the history of the indigenous peoples of the Andean region of South America, which includes Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, from the conquest of the Inca empire by the Spanish up to the present day.

Course credit exclusions: AP/HIST 3736 6.00 (prior to Fall 2013). Prior to 2009: AS/HIST 3736 6.00

4030 6.0 Intercultural Training Skills

Course Director: Carol Tator

Time: Thurs 8:30-11:30 VH 3005

What does one do with an anthropology degree if one does not become a field anthropologist or go on to graduate school? This course attempts a partial answer to that question by helping to equip students with a body of theoretical knowledge and a repertoire of tools and skills that can be applied to each of these areas of specialization. Intercultural relations, anti-sexism, anti-racism, educational and employment equity are critical issues in today's workplaces and in everyday interactions.

The curriculum provides an understanding of how training and other organizational change strategies can be applied in different social systems (e.g., education, health care, social services, cultural organizations, mass media, government, and employment, etc.). The students will analyze relevant theories, explore different models, and practice specific experiential training skills. The underlying approach to these diverse learning experiences is social change at the level of the individual, group, organization, institution and collective culture.

Format: Three seminar hours

 

4170 3.0 Historical Anthropology & the Politics of History

Course Director: TBA

Time:(Winter) Thurs 11:30-2:30 VH 3005

In this course we will examine the sometimes tense relationship between anthropology and the discipline of history as well as the past as an object of knowledge. By the end of the course, students will understand central themes in both historical anthropology and the anthropology of history as well as the relevance of oral histories and archival records to the ethnographic endeavour. We will investigate the uses and modes of construction of "history," histories, and the past, as well as how subjects are formed in relation to colonialism, state formation, and revolution as historical and historicizing processes. We will also explore contemporary debates over the role of silences, trauma, and forgetting in our understanding of the past and the concept of "history."

 

4230 3.0 The Anthropology of Space & Place

Not offered in 2013-14

This course articulates anthropological and interdisciplinary ways of studying place and space that interrogate modernist separations. It explores contemporary and historical place making and spatial fragmentation.

 

4240 3.0 Nature, Politics & Difference: Anthropology of Social/Natures

Not Offered in 2013-14

This course provides an anthropological perspective on the cultural politics of environment and development. Drawing on ethnographic case studies from diverse geographical contexts, the course examines the cultural practices, ideologies and discourses that inform environmental struggles and affect the livelihoods of marginal peoples across the globe.

 

4260 6.0 Social & Cultural Change

Not offered in 2013-14

Critical considerations of the theoretical dimensions in this field of anthropology (concepts, models, methodologies, explanations) leads to study of the causes, processes and effects of social change in a range of developed and Third World societies. Particular and contrasting case studies are examined in detail.

 

4270 3.0 Imagined Societies: An Anthropology of Nations Without Boundaries

Course director: Prof. Gerry Gold

Time: (Fall) Thurs 11:30-2:30 CC 208

Nation-building is unique in modern societies where national spaces are created and reinvented with boundaries based on cultural (linguistic) and symbolic (e.g. artistic) criteria. This course focuses on the creation of imagined or distinct societies emerging from the nationalism of ethnic groups which do not share the geographic boundaries of the nations created by map-makers such as the signatories of The Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

The first six weeks of the course considers the work of Benedict Anderson and his model of the Imagined Nation. The next month examines the complex ethnic and linguistic nationalism of the Balkans, by your looking at the Macedonian Question. The Diaspora of Macedonians is relevant in Canada and in Toronto. From Macedonia and the Balkans the focus of the class becomes the Middle East with particular attention to the Kurds, a nationality left out of the redrawing of the map of the world in Paris, 1919.

From Kurdistan, the course shifts to British Columbia, and the study of Nuxalk nationalism and its relationship with art. All of these cases challenge the exclusiveness of the nation state as the sole focus of national identity. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds will be attracted to this course: from anthropology, sociology, history and political science to literature.

Format: Three seminar hours

 

4340 6.0 Advocacy & Social Movements

Course director: Dr Christianne Stephens

Time: Mon 2:30-5:30 MC215

This is a course on modern forms of social advocacy, and the link between public interest advocacy and the "new" social movements. Most of the new social movements, like the environmental movement, contest dominant interests through transformation of cultural or cosmological values. Thus the advocacy process becomes a central part of the social construction of knowledge in modern society.

This course will examine various forms of social advocacy, from the advocacy of anthropologists on behalf of indigenous societies (applied anthropology), to advocacy for human rights, the organization of advocacy in the public sphere, the interrelationship of advocacy with mass media and propaganda, and the move for inclusion of advocacy organizations in global governance (e.g. in the fields of environment and human rights). The course brings together a range of topics that would otherwise be treated in separate university departments – anthropology; mass communication; environmental studies.

A key part of this course will be the undertaking of a small fieldwork project on a selected advocacy group in the Toronto area. Much of the discussion in the first term will be aimed at providing the necessary background, both practical and theoretical, for the undertaking of such a project.

The projects will investigate the way in which the advocacy groups are organized, how they maintain relations with the mass media, and the way in which they undertake social construction of knowledge. The project will require students to keep a diary of contacts made with their advocacy group; project findings can - are encouraged - to be used in the final examination.

Format: Three seminar hours

 

4410 3.0 The Anthropology of Human Rights

Course Director:Not Offered 2013-14

Time: Not Offered 2013-14

Anthropology, a discipline grounded in the principles of cultural relativism, has been uncomfortable with the universalizing discourse of human rights since it was first codified in the United Nation's 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Initially, anthropologists rejected the Declaration's claims outright, asserting the superiority of their own pluralist understandings of what constitutes the human over the Western ones that they argued the Declaration was falsely claiming as universals. Since the end of the Cold War, however, human rights claims have become an increasingly important tool for marginalized and subaltern communities—anthropologists' traditional subjects—to assert their political claims. Recognizing this, anthropologists have scrambled to engage the notion of human rights in a less confrontational mode while retaining their commitment to relativism.

This course will survey this history in order to set up the conceptual problems anthropologists face when discussing human rights. It will then proceed to examine some of the strategies anthropologists have used to resolve these problems, including expanding the subject of rights to include collectivities as well as individuals, using rights as a tool of advocacy, grounding rights in anthropological concepts of culture, and treating human rights itself as a culture.

Format: Three seminar hours

 

4420 3.0 The Anthropology of Gender & War

Course Director: Prof. Wenona Giles

Time: (Fall) Wed. 11:30-2:30 ACW 305.

War is increasingly waged on the bodies of unarmed civilians. Where it was once the purview of male soldiers who fought enemy forces on battlefields quite separate from civilian homes, contemporary conflict blurs such distinctions, rendering civilian women, men, and children its main casualties.

In every militarized society, war zone, and refugee camp, violence against women and men is part of a broader continuum of violence that transcends the simple diplomatic dichotomy of war and peace. This continuum of violence dissolves any division between public and private domains. Sites of war and peace are ultimately linked; both can be sites of violence. Explicitly feminist analyses of gender in conflict situations address the politics of social and economic disparities and explore possibilities for changing power imbalances that include gender relations.

The course will link feminist analyses of gender to empirical studies that are grounded in particular conflict zones. Gender relations and identities are (re)produced by governments, militaries, militias, schools, sports, and media. Documenting the panoply of strategies that generate violence against civilian women and men in the name of the nation, the state, the economy, or the family is the first step towards changing these hegemonic, seemingly transparent notions of what it means to be a man or a woman in a given society.

 

4450 3.0 Anthropology of the City

Course director: Prof. Shubhra Gururani

Time: (Fall) Thurs 2:30-5:30 ACE 013

In the next few decades, there will be more people living in cities than ever before. The tremendous growth of cities around the world but especially in the global south, which now has cities comprising of fifteen to twenty-five million people (almost half the size of the population of Canada), poses an interesting set of questions for anthropology, a discipline that has traditionally focused on smaller groups and settings.

Through a close reading of a few classics in Urban Anthropology and contemporary ethnographic case studies from Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, India, China, USA, and Canada, first half of the course introduces the students to the foundational concepts and methodological tools used by anthropologists in the study of the city.

Covering approaches from World-Systems theory to theories of space and place, everyday practices, and governmentality, the course examines the historical, social, political-economic forces that make cities to be the locus of capitalist production, consumption, labor, migration, wealth and waste. In the second half, the course focuses on the ethnographic case studies from the global north and south to examine urban forms, gentrification, crime, violence, urban renewal, poverty, im/migration, neighborhoods, dissent, and governance in the megapolises and critically engages with the methodological challenge posed by the scale and complexity of the city for anthropology.

In addressing the ways anthropologist can draw on and contribute to the study of the city, the course considers the methodological exercise of the flaneur to study the everyday life of the city as well as other anthropological methods.

The goal of the course is to make students reflect on the space of the city, how it is configured by micro-and macro-practices of a range of actors (humans and non-humans) and in turn constitute the city as a anthropological site, process, and a practice. Specific assignments are designed to engage and reflect on different aspects of a city (politics, populations, possibilities, media, governance) they know and one they don't know.

Format: Three seminar hours