Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology addresses broad questions about what it means to be human in contemporary societies and cultures, as well as those of the recent past. Cultural anthropologists systematically explore topics such as technology and material culture, social organization, economies, political and legal systems, language, ideologies and religions, health and illness, and social change. Students concentrating in cultural anthropology are strongly advised to take the course in ethnographic research methods, ANTH 18. Students who will pursue graduate work in cultural anthropology are advised to take Main Currents in Anthropology, ANTH 73.

ANTH 03

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology is the study of human ways of life in the broadest possible comparative perspective. Cultural anthropologists are interested in all types of societies, from hunting and gathering bands to modern industrial states. The aim of cultural anthropology is to document the full range of human cultural adaptations and achievements and to discern in this great diversity the underlying covariations among and changes in human ecology, institutions and ideologies.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW

ANTH 04 (Identical to NAS 10)

Peoples and Cultures of Native North America

The course provides an introduction to the peoples and cultures of Native North America. A single indigenous group (nation) from different "culture areas" is highlighted to emphasize particular forms of economy, social organization, and spirituality. The course focuses on the more traditional American Indian cultures that existed before the establishment of Western domination, as well as on the more recent native culture history and modern-day economic, sociopolitical and cultural continuity, change, and revitalization. Open to all classes.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 7.xx

First Year Seminar in Anthropology

First-Year Seminars offer every first-year student an opportunity to participate in a course structured around intensive writing, independent research, and small group discussion.

The First-year Seminar Program serves four purposes. First, by means of a uniform writing requirement, the seminar stresses the importance of written expression in all disciplines. Second, it provides an attractive and exciting supplement to the usual introductory survey. Third, it guarantees each first-year student at least one small course. Fourth, the program engages each first-year student in the research process, offering an early experience of the scholarship that fuels Dartmouth's upper-level courses.

View course descriptions for First-year Seminars. Note that First-year Seminars are not offered in fall term.

(CULT)

ANTH 09

Language and Culture

This course will introduce students to the study of human language as a species-specific endowment of humankind. In this investigation we will examine such issues as: 1) the relationship between language use (e.g. metaphoric creativity) and cultural values, 2) the relationships between language diversity and ethnic, political, economic stratification, 3) language use and the communicating of individual identity, thoughts, and intentions in face-to-face interaction, 4) the cultural patterning of speech behavior, and 5) whether or not the structure of specific languages affects the characteristics of culture, cognition, and thought in specific ways.

(CULT) Dist: SOC.

ANTH 12.01 (Identical to FILM 41.04)

Ethnographic Film

Ethnographic film crosses the boundaries between academic anthropology, art history, and popular media. This course will address the construction of meaning in ethnographic films in relation to the parallel concerns of anthropology. The course focuses on individual films, analyzing their significance from the perspectives of filmmakers and audiences. This course considers various approaches to film art, the relation of other visual media to ethnographic representation, and the challenges these pose to traditional texts. The class appeals to students of anthropology and film as well as others interested in international studies and the politics of cross-cultural representation.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 12.14 (Identical to AAAS 87.09

African Popular Culture

This course introduces a global socio-historical framework within which to examine African popular cultures across the continent and as they circulate globally. Considering the historical contexts of contact between Africa, Europe, and­­­­ the Americas, we will explore cultural, economic, and philosophic aspects of African expressive cultures. Focusing on Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa, we will study music, film, dance, social media, theater, and literature, and consider how ideas of what it means to be African are produced and contested through these media.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW

ANTH 12.23 (Identical to AAAS 11)

Introduction to African Studies

This course introduces a global socio-historical framework within which to examine Africa in relation to multiple African Diasporas and notions of mobility. Considering the historical contexts of contact between Africa, Europe, and the Americas, we examine cultural, economic, and philosophic aspects of Africa. We will examine how ideas of what it means to be African culturally, racially, and politically are continually produced and contested. The moment of independence of many African nation-states from European colonial rule in the mid 20th century operates as a centering point from which we will examine economics, race, politics, and artistic expressions. We will consider ideas of “tradition” and “modernity,” representations of Africa, more recent processes of commodification, as well as various cultural and political responses to them.

(CULT) Dist: SOC, WCult: NW.

ANTH 12.24 (Identical to AAAS 87.12)

Africa's Time? An Interdisciplinary Survey of Temporality and Power

Centered in Africa, this course explores the theme of temporality through attention to history, anthropology, philosophy, and popular theoretical physics. There will be no mathematical calculation required. However, we will consider difficult formulas of another type. Is time a constant across cultures and reference frames both physical and ontological? How do past, present, and future intersect? How has the perception of time influenced historical encounters on the African continent and within the African diaspora? How does time relate to ancestry and power?

CULT (Dist: SOC; WCult: NW)

ANTH 12.26 (Identical to GEOG 68)

Environmental Justice

Around the world, people suffer because of environmental degradation, from sickening industrial pollution to unnatural disasters to disruptive climate change. This course examines how environmental harms are unequally experienced, as well as how communities organize to protect themselves. We will discuss the concept of “environmental justice” as it has developed through social movements in the United States and elsewhere. We will also explore it as an analytical category that (a) explains how inequality manifests environmentally and (b) enables critical thinking about concepts like the “environment” and mainstream environmentalism and environmental policy. Drawing from Anthropology, Geography, History, Sociology, and other disciplines, we will focus on the lived experiences of environment justice and injustice around the world.

(CULT) Dist: SOC.

ANTH 14

Death and Dying

Death is a universal human experience, yet the attitudes and responses toward it develop out of a complex interplay between the personality of the individual and her or his sociocultural background. Using anthropological, historical, and biographical works, as well as novels and films, the course explores the meaning of death in a variety of cultures and religious traditions. Particular attention is paid to understanding native ideas about the person, emotions, life cycle, and the afterlife, as well as the analysis of mortuary rituals and the experience of the dying and the survivors. The course also offers an anthropological perspective on the development of the modern Western (particularly American) mode of dealing with death and dying and addresses the issue of mass death in the twentieth century.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC.

ANTH 15

Political Anthropology

The political anthropology of non-Western societies raises basic questions concerning the nature of authority, coercion, persuasion, and communication in both small-scale and complex societies. Classical approaches to problems of freedom and order are challenged through examples drawn from various societies. Topics including the ideologies and language of political domination, revolution, wealth, and the transition to post-modern societies are assessed, as are factions, knowledge and control, state secrecy, state and non-state violence, and religious fundamentalism.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 17

The Anthropology of Health and Illness

This course introduces students to the cross-cultural study and analysis of health, illness, and medical systems, conceptions of the body, the nature of disease, and the values of medicine. We examine pain, suffering, and healing as universal aspects of the human condition, shaped by the cultural, political, and environmental contexts in which they occur. In addition to considering the symbolic dimensions of illness and healing, we discuss issues of global health inequality, human rights, and social suffering.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC.

ANTH 18

Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology

This course will introduce students to the premier method of empirical research in cultural anthropology: participant observation, and associated informal dialogue and interviewing. We will study techniques for planning and carrying out such research, and for recording, checking validity and reliability, storing, coding, analyzing and writing up of ethnographic data. Students will undertake "mini" research projects, and become familiar with basic ethical issues, informed consent, writing of research proposals, formulating research contracts, and sharing results with cooperating individuals and groups. Prerequisite: Anthropology 1 or 3 or one ethnography/culture area course.

(CULT) Dist: SOC.

ANTH 26 (Identical to WGSS 61.05)

Gender and Global Health

This course will examine the intersection of gender and health. Readings will be from medicine, history, journalism, and the social sciences.  We will interrogate the relationship between biology, science, and culture, focusing our attention on the cultural construction of healing and embodied experience of illness.  We will examine how cultural institutions, ideologies, and practices contribute to health disparities along lines of race, class, and gender, paying attention to medicine's role in gendering the body.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 27

Economic Anthropology in a Changing World

The idea of "the economy" is powerful. Government policies try to make it grow and politicians are voted out if it doesn't. Fortunes rise and fall with economic indicators and market values. But what is the economy? In this economic anthropology course, we will address this question differently than an Economics course would. Rather than approaching the economy as an abstraction that exists apart from human societies, we will critically explore how it is created and experienced through activities and relationships that are part of everyday life.

Our focus will be on how markets, commodities, labor, property, and money shape people's identities and relationships. We will pay particular attention to the ways that power works, often invisibly, through economic forms, and how this can make inequality and governmental power appear acceptable and even natural. Finally, we will examine relations between "the economy" and "the environment" in the context of climate change and environmental degradation. Through engagement with ethnographic and other scholarship, students will learn to critically understand key contemporary economic issues in the United States, as well as in countries like Brazil, Egypt, and Italy.

(CULT) Dist: INT; WCult: NW

ANTH 28

Ethnography of Violence

Violence is widely recognized as a problem in modern society, with policies and interventions to combat violence, or employ it, dominating local and global politics. Yet the meaning of violence is seldom analyzed. Using an ethnographic lens, this course explores violence as both an embodied experience and a culturally and politically mediated event. We examine spectacular and everyday violence forms of violence in terms of manifestations of power, structures of inequality, perceptions of difference, and politics of representation. Ethnographic studies are drawn from, among others, Mozambique, Haiti, and Harlem. An introduction to the cultural anthropology of violence, this course raises key questions about violence in a globalized world and explores how to study it anthropologically. This course is not open to students who have received credit for ANTH 12.03.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW.

Click here for course syllabus

ANTH 31 (Identical to WGSS 36.01)

Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Sex (biological differences between men and women) and gender (social constructions of those differences) are not straightforward or natural, and it naturally follows that gender inequalities and gender oppression are also not straightforward and natural. Therefore, we will pay close attention to the issue of power - in terms of control and distribution of resources and the enforcement of gender roles and sexuality. We will also look at how Western gender ideals have been imposed on people in other parts of the world. We will talk about concepts, perceptions, images, stories, encounters, games, connections and disconnections. Finally, we will explore questions of practice and resistance.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 32 (Identical to AMES 26)

Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalayas

This course introduces students to the peoples and cultures of Tibet and the greater Himalayan region (Nepal, northern India, Bhutan). We examine the cultural, ecological, political, religious, and economic interfaces that define life on the northern and southern slopes of Earth's greatest mountain range. In addition to learning about Himalayan and Tibetan lifeways, we will also learn about how these mountainous parts of Asia have figured into occidental imaginings, from the earliest adventurers to contemporary travelers.

(CULT) Dist: SOC, WCult: NW.

ANTH 33

The Global Caribbean

Paradise or plantation? Cultural destination or economic periphery? Capitalist birthplace or IMF delinquent? From the Columbian conquest to contemporary tourism, the Caribbean has borne the burdens and opportunities of being an intercontinental crossroads. Colonial governments, enslaved Africans, indentured servants, and foreign settlers have all made the Caribbean an exemplar of modernity and globalization—for better or worse. Drawing on social scientific, literary, and policy texts, this course offers an historically deep and geographically broad anthropology of the Caribbean.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 35

Maya Indians Under Mexican and Guatemalan Rule

This course explores the contemporary Maya cultures of Mexico and Guatemala against the backdrop of nearly five hundred years of conquest, colonialism, revolution, and nation-building. Given the contrasting, at times deeply antagonistic, cultures and identities that have resulted, this course focuses on issues of Maya ethnicity, inequality, and nationalism in these two closely related yet historically distinct countries. Prerequisite: One course in Anthropology or Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies. Prerequisite: One course in Anthropology or Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 36 (Identical to AAAS 44)

Contemporary Africa: Exploring Myths, Engaging Realities

This course focuses on processes, relationships, and experiences that have shaped, and continue to shape, the lives of Africans in many different contexts. These include issues of ecology and food production, age, gender, ethnicity, exchange, colonialism, apartheid, and development. We will then embark on in depth readings of ethnographies that engage these issues and themes. In the processes we will move beyond prevailing stereo-types about Africa, to engage the full complexity of its contemporary realities.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 37

Legacies of Conquest in Latin America

Despite nearly five hundred years of conquest, colonialism, and change, native peoples still survive in culturally distinct enclaves within the dominant Iberian traditions of Latin America. This course examines the roots as well as the endemic social inequalities and prejudices that resulted. Selected case studies will relate to such contemporary problems as international drug trafficking, deforestation of the Amazon basin, and ongoing political repression and revolution in Central America. The course draws on the insights of local ethnographic studies to shed light on global problems, while anthropologically situating native cultures of Latin America in their larger historical and geopolitical context. Prerequisite: One course in anthropology or Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

(CULT). Dist.: SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 44 (Identical to WGSS 53.07)

Language, Gender, and Sexuality

This course explores cultural conceptions of gender and sexuality as they relate to and emerge from language use.  Readings will bring in case studies from around the globe, and topics covered may include:  sexual identity and linguistic practice; gender socialization through language socialization; gender and language in the global economy; and the linguistic construction of gendered selves.  Students will collect their own linguistic data to be analyzed using theoretical and methodological tools acquired in class. 

(CULT) Dist: SOC

 

ANTH 45

Asian Medical Systems

This course investigates systems of healing practiced in, and derived from, Asia. We will focus primarily on three Asian medical systems: Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and Tibetan medicine. We will strive to understand how these medical systems are based on coherent logics that are not only biologically but also culturally determined. We will also analyze the deployment of these medical systems in non-Asian contexts, and examine the relationship between Asian systems and "western" biomedicine.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 48 (Identical to REL 19.18)

From Sacred to Salvation: The Place of Religion in Human Societies

In this course religions are seen as cultural systems which give shape and meaning to the world in which people live and provide a means, in the form of rituals, by which they can attempt to manipulate those worlds. The emphasis is on understanding non-Western religions, especially those of tribal peoples, through the interpretation of myth, ritual, and expressed beliefs. The role of religion as a social institution is also examined. Alternative approaches to the interpretation of myth, ritual symbolism, deity conceptions, witchcraft, etc., are explored. Prerequisite: One course in anthropology or religion or permission of the instructor.

(CULT) Dist: INT or TMV; WCult: NW.

ANTH 49

Environment, Culture, and Sustainability

Environmental issues and problems cannot be understood without reference to the cultural values that shape the way people perceive and interact with their environment. This course examines the ways in which different cultures conceptualize and interact with their environment, but with special emphasis on American cultures and values. We will examine how the American experience has shaped the ways in which Americans imagine and interact with the environment and how this has been exported to the rest of the world. We will pay close attention to issues of consumption and conservation and how they have impacted ecologies and human livelihoods in different parts of the world.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: W

ANTH 50.17

Rites of Passage: The Biology and Culture of Life's Transitions

This course explores the “rites of passage” concept across time and space, and with close attention to the ways that our bodies shape and are shaped by our social selves. A response to avid student desire to learn more about the intersections of biology and culture within the context of anthropology, this course promotes learning about human biology and the medical humanities.

(CULT) Dist: SOC, WCult: CI

ANTH 50.21 (Identical to AAAS 88.17)

Visual Culture

This class examines visual art, sound, film, and digital media. We will learn how to think about and make sounds and images in historically and ethnographically rich ways. In the process we examine notions of power, difference, history, culture, race, class, gender. Twentieth-century politics and culture were intimately linked to the rapid development of radio, television, film, video, and digital media. These media have creatively engaged with local cultural practices around the world in reshaping the nature of artistic expression, national, gendered, and racial difference, and political power. This course explores the politics and pragmatics of art, photography, and film in order to delineate visual and embodied ways of presenting and experiencing the world particularly in relation to race and gender.

(CULT)  Dist: SOC, WCult: NW.

ANTH 50.22 (Identical to AAAS 88.16)

Sovereignty, Race, and Rights

This course examines the colonial legacies of rights, race, gender, and difference and their significance for contemporary global politics and development. By taking an socio-historical approach to the idea of rights we will make connections between sovereignty, the rule of law, representational practices, economy, and citizenship. We will use a critical eye to explore the conditions of possibility that allow states, development organizations, donor agencies, and individuals to unwittingly reproduce centuries-old tropes of poverty, degradation, and helplessness of non-Western peoples. Examining various institutionally structured encounters between Europeans and non-Western peoples we unpack assumptions about the naturalness of power. In postcolonial societies the tensions between ideas of tradition and modernity structure many conflicts over rights, citizenship, and the role of the individual in society.

(CULT) Dist: Int or SOC, WCult: NW.

ANTH 50.25 (identical to GOVT 60.22)

Law, Power & Society

What is law? In this course, we will explore this seemingly simple question, and look at how scholars from anthropology and other disciplines have addressed it. We will look at law as a means of ordering societies, as an exercise of power, and as a cultural phenomenon that helps us better understand the world around us. We will survey foundational and philosophical thought, delve into law's role in the United States, and study its manifestations in colonial and postcolonial societies, such as South Africa and Brazil. We will explore the law as both a means of social control and of social change.

(CULT) Dist: SOC.

ANTH 50.31

Humanistic Medicine: Cultivating Compassion in Healers, Patients, and Cultures of Care

This course uses experiences of illness and efforts to heal as windows into what it means to be human. Grounded in an interdisciplinary, holistic approach, this course aims to build connections between humanistic inquiry, medicine, and diverse forms of care. The course is organized around three main themes: (1) Becoming a Doctor and the Culture of Biomedicine, (2) Exploring Disease and Illness, and (3) Building a Future of Compassionate Care. This course is relevant for students in a wide range of disciplines, including students pursuing clinical careers; students engaging with medicine and illness as writers or advocates; and students in the humanities and social sciences who are interested in exploring health, illness, and medicine.

(CULT) Dist: None; WCult: None

ANTH 50.33

Cartographic Encounters: Mapping Across Cultures

This course examines diverse practices of mapping across geographic and cultural contexts. We explore the roles that mapmaking has played in past and present societies as well as its futures. We experiment with a variety of applied mapping methods, using both analog and digital approaches. The course includes in-class labs, during which we will explore a different facet of cartography, including work in the Hood Museum on a dedicated exhibition to which students will contribute.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW

ANTH 50.34

Peoples of Oceania

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the traditional and contemporary cultures of Oceania: Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, and Australia. Themes discussed in class will focus on the relationships between the religious, social, political, and economic systems that make up the vast and varied cultures of Oceania.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW

ANTH 50.36

Anthropology and Narrative

This seminar aims to expand students' understanding of the power of storytelling in anthropology and to guide them in reading such stories with a critical eye. Students will have the opportunity to conduct their own life history projects as well as to produce a critical analysis of course readings or of texts of their own choosing.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: CI

ANTH 51

Colonialism and Its Legacies in Anthropological Perspective (FSP)

Between the early 16th and mid 20th centuries, European nations and Japan colonized much of the rest of the world. This course looks at the history of colonialism in various parts of the world, focusing on the similarities and differences between colonialism as practiced by different colonial rulers in different regions at different times. It also traces the ways in which the colonial process and experience has shaped the world we live in today, both in developed and developing nations, in such areas as political systems, economic systems, religions, and interethnic relations. Prerequisite: Any two courses in anthropology.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 52

Introduction to Maori Society (FSP)

This course is an introduction to the study of traditional and contemporary Maori society and culture. topics for study include: pre-European Maori history, origin and migration traditions, land ownership and use, religion, leadership, meeting ground (marae) protocols, the colonial experience, struggles of resistance and of cultural recovery.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 54

Foreign Study in Anthropology

Credit for this course is awarded to students who have successfully completed the designated course in the department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland during the Dartmouth foreign study program in Anthropology and Linguistics and Cognitive Science. Prerequisite: Two courses in Anthropology. 

(CULT) Dist: SOC.

ANTH 55

Anthropology of Global Health

This medical anthropology course explores human responses to disease and illness, focusing on international/global health. We will consider plural health care systems, medical practices, and ideas about illness and the body in cross-cultural contexts, and learn about issues of health-development paradigms, culture and epidemiology, global health equity and human rights issues. Sections of the course focus on the global pharmaceutical industry, women's health, and experiences of trauma-related disorders across diverse social, cultural, and political realities.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC.

ANTH 58

Sustainable Cities

Today, over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and by extension, cities have become the norm for other forms of life as well.  For the past fifty years, this normalization of urban life has continued at an exponential pace around the globe, while rates of inequality for urban communities of all kinds (human and non-human) keeps pace.  In order to tackle these concerns and others, we will read texts from cultural anthropology and related disciplines like geography, history, and ecology. First, we examine and compare the trajectories of urbanization in the contemporary Global North and the Global South.  Second, we apply this comparative perspective to understanding several key issues related to environmental politics and justice in cities.  Third, we look to urban ecology and urban political ecology for theoretical insights into cities as a form of social-ecological life.  Last, we focus attention on examples of successful urban sustainability initiatives.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC.

ANTH 60

Psychological Anthropology

This course examines key concepts and core debates within the field of psychological anthropology. The course draws on the historical roots of the field as well as contemporary theoretical developments in psychological anthropology. Central questions addressed in the course include: What is the relationship of the individual to culture?  How do categories of the person, self, thought, and emotions vary cross-culturally? What do extraordinary psychological experiences reveal about fundamental human processes?

(CULT) WCult: CI

ANTH 65

Conservation and Development

The terms ‘conservation’ and ‘development’ are ubiquitous, but there is little agreement on their meanings or their efficacy. We study how these processes impact ‘traditional’ cultures and how indigenous peoples have responded. Development and conservation have cultures of their own so we will examine their worldviews, discourses, and practices. We explore how anthropological methods can be used to analyze resource conflicts, understand the limits of dominant approaches, and think constructively about alternatives.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC. WCult: CI.

ANTH 72

Ethnicity and Nationalism

Ethnic politics and nationalist movements play a major role in modern-day life.  This course explores these important subjects through an anthropological lens by examining such topics as symbols, rituals and myths of ethnic and national identity; state nationalism and ethnic minorities; diaspora nationalism versus homeland; nationalism with and without violence; indigeneity; and several others.  Readings include theoretical works by anthropologists and several historians.  Requirements include a book review, a research paper and active participation in class discussion.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 73

Main Currents in Anthropology

This course examines the theoretical concerns that define anthropology as a discipline. These include the nature and extent of human social and cultural variation; the relationship of institutional arrangements in society to systems of meaning; the material and moral determinants of human social life; the dynamics of change within and between ways of life otherwise taken by their practitioners as given; the place of power in maintaining, challenging, and representing meaningfully constituted human orders. Readings by major theorists past and present will be treated as neither canonical texts nor dead-letter formulations but as part of an ongoing inquiry into the myriad dimensions-and possibilities-of being human.

(CULT) Dist: SOC.