Qualitative Research Methods and Public Policy, Krista Harper
Presents qualitative research methods, as part of the policy research "toolkit" for understanding diverse cultural perceptions, practices, and social problems in context. Students design their own short qualitative research projects, conduct field research in local organizations or other community settings, analyze qualitative data, and write up research findings in a paper that explores applications for policy.
Heritage as Applied Anthropology: New Approaches to Public Commemoration and Social Memory, Elizabeth Chilton and Neil Silberman
This seminar will examine the new theoretical trends and tools that have begun to transform the nature of heritage policy and practice in the United States and throughout the world. In contrast to more traditional modes of historic preservation and public commemoration, often embodied in univocal narratives and the sanctification of conserved material authenticity, recent developments have placed stress on community participation in debates on significance and in the dynamic interplay between tangible and intangible heritage. Participants in this seminar will analyze the relevance and contributions of archaeology, cultural, linguistic, and physical anthropology to this reformulation of “heritage” as contemporary social practice. Real-world case studies in urban settings and in the developing world (highlighting the issues of heritage economics, ethics, and cultural inclusiveness) will be selected for special focus, with the goal of applying the insights of anthropology to their further theoretical practical development.
Public Anthropology, Julie Hemment
Public anthropology strives to link research and action, to bring anthropological
knowledge to broader audiences, whilst promoting social justice and social change. This graduate seminar explores the content of this project and reflects upon its potential. The course is part survey (what is public anthropology? Who's talking about it and why? What are the key areas of debate?), part up-close investigation of some contemporary public or community-based anthropological scholarship. We will examine a variety of different forms of action-oriented approaches, including feminist anthropology and participatory action research. As we engage these works, we'll be forging our own vision of what a public anthropology can and should be at the same time as we critically engage the contents of this project and the forces that prompt it. A second, parallel agenda of the course will be to map changes with the academy. The corporatization of the academy is likely to greatly constrain a public anthropology, or at least to shift its meaning and content. At the same time, the corporatization of the anthropological profession propels and stimulates applied forms of anthropological engagement. What are the possibilities within this terrain? How does this cause us to rethink the public anthropology project? How can ethnographic knowledge contribute both to increasing our understanding of and challenging these corporatizing tendencies?
The Anthropology of Postsocialism, Julie Hemment
The so-called "collapse of Communism" in the late 1980s paved the way for ambitious projects for social and political change; it also gave rise to a burgeoning scholarship that mapped the political and economic transformations these projects sought to effect. This graduate seminar explores anthropology’s distinctive contributions to the study of postsocialism. Bringing together ethnographic and theoretical accounts of the former East bloc, the course examines some of the socio-political and cultural realignments of the post-socialist period and their implications for our thinking beyond the region. The course is structured around Katherine Verdery’s question, “What Was Socialism, And What Comes Next?” Themes to be discussed will include: gender and socialism/post-socialism; civil society, democratization and NGOs; social welfare, markets and governmentality; the cultural politics of citizenship, identity, and community. We will explore these themes by reading some of the most exciting new ethnographies of the region, grounded accounts that explore the transformations in social and cultural logics, power relations and practices that accompanied political and economic change.
Writing Ethnography, Elizabeth Krause
This graduate seminar takes ethnography as its object of analysis and its subject of practice. The seminar provides students with tools for thinking through the politics of representation. We examine the ongoing consequences of the representational crisis that plagued ethnography, with vehemence in the 1980s, and investigate how and to what degree the genre has recovered. As Veena Das asks, "What is it to engage the life of the other in the context of the everyday?" We may also question whether we are committed to ethnography as a genre, and if so how and why? In addition, the seminar will provide students with a space to practice their own ethnographic writing. In both our reading and writing, we will explore conventional as well as experimental (or blurred) forms of representation, including critical ethnography, the ethnographic novel, creative non-fiction, and cross- cultural memoir.
Historical Anthropology and Social Memory, Elizabeth Krause
History, in its popular as well as erudite forms, provides humans with ideas and moorings for orienting themselves to the world. This advanced graduate seminar investigates cultural politics as manifest in past-present relationships. We begin with a definition of social memory that highlights how social groups engage in historical action. We will ask, How does engagement with the past shape the cultural politics of the present? Meanings of the past often become points of social contestation because the history as well as the future are at stake in everyday struggles. Particular attention will be given to the relationship between processes of state formation, the imagining of the nation, and dominant vs. resistant accounts of the past. We explore differences between how anthropologists and historians have conceptualized the relationship between the past and present as well as track recent debates in the “field.” In addition, we explore problems related to archival, oral, and other popular forms of evidence.
The Heritage of Conflict, Neil Silberman
This seminar will focus on the problems of heritage commemoration and management in areas of political and ethnic conflict. The main question to be addressed is whether contemporary heritage activities by both dominant and resisting groups must always be framed in the confrontational stance of Us vs. Them? Seminar participants will review the basic theoretical literature on conflicted and shared heritage and will analyze selected case studies of real-world heritage empowerment (and disempowerment) in post-apartheid South Africa, the Middle East, and among urban immigrant communities in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Heritage Narratives: Literary Genres and Contemporary Narratives, Neil Silberman
This seminar will analyze the basic narrative forms and plotlines that underlie contemporary public heritage presentation in print, in video, on websites, and in various forms of on-site presentation. Drawing its theoretical insights from narratology and literary criticism, the seminar will offer basic understanding of the interpretive significance of heritage "stories" as moralizing, metaphorical narratives with profound contemporary resonance. Weekly examples of outstanding, noteworthy, or particularly influential heritage narratives will be presented and will be examined by the seminar participants. The final project will be the creation of an original heritage narrative on a selected site or theme of the individual participant's choice.
Archeology of Social Complexity, Michael Sugerman
Complexity is a recurring theme in archaeology. From Childes's "Urban Revolution" to the social evolutionary stages of Fried and Service, a series of approaches have characterized complex societies as the apex of societal development and have created an analytical context in which complex societies and conceptualized in reified classificatory terms such as "chiefdom" and "state." In this seminar we will read the "classic" works that defined the archaeological study of social complexity as well as recent works that question the role of hierarchy as the chief mechanism driving social integration. Concepts such as "heterarchy" and approaches that focus on agency and the active constitution of meaning have broadened the discussion and presented us with alternative models of social complexity.
Language Revitalization, Jacqueline Urla
The dramatic decline of language diversity world wide has promoted many new language preservation movements. The global picture of language diversity is changing rapidly. Of the now approximately 5000 languages existing in the world, as many as 4000 are expected to near extinction by the end of this century. This course will examine language preservation as a social movement in various parts of the world. We will read about language endangerment and revival and do some work on strengthening skills in writing research papers.
Visual Anthropology, Jacqueline Urla
This course examines the politics and poetics of visual representation in the field of anthropology, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the moving image. In this class, we will be critically examining how information about cultural diversity is conveyed through visual images and the historical contexts and theoretical frameworks that have shaped these images.
Special Topics in the Anthropology of Europe, CHESS Project Faculty
The aim of this course is to give students intensive exposure to Europeanist ethnographers working on topics relating to our themes.