Undergraduate Courses

ANTH 318/ INTS 318: Human Growth and Development: A Comparative Perspective (Sorensen)

Course Description: In this course we will examine key issues in human growth and development. We will explore in detail the biology of human growth from conception through maturity from evolutionary, ecological and comparative perspectives. Central to the course will be an international comparative perspective on social, cultural, and ecological factors influencing growth. We will explore findings and concepts from human biology, evolutionary ecology, and cultural anthropology in an attempt to construct an integrated view of human growth and development as a product of both biological and socio-ecological processes. The study of human growth is useful to all students in biological, health-related or social sciences.

Required Texts:
Barry Bogin, 1999. Patterns of Human Growth, 2nd Edition. New York: Cambridge.
Peter Gluckman & Mark Hanson, 2006. Mismatch: Why our World No Longer Fits our Bodies. New York: Oxford.

Additional Readings are on the course blackboard.

ANTH 319/ INTS 319: Global Health (Sorensen)

Course Description: In this course, we will explore several issues of globalization and health. We will explore how health has varied globally throughout space and time, and how anthropogenic changes in the built environment have contributed to those changes. We will discuss the fundamentals of infectious disease transmission such as pathogens, vectors, and transmission chains, concepts of illness and health, the relationship of nutrition and disease, plagues and epidemics, and emerging diseases. Our approach will be to focus on adaptation in several global areas with an emphasis on how behavior, ecology, and biology contribute to dynamic health and disease environments. We will examine how large-scale destructive conflicts, human migration, colonialism, development, urbanization, international economic interests, and social inequalities have contributed to problems in world health in the past and in the present.

Required Texts:
McMichael, Tony (2001) Human Frontiers, Environments and Disease. Cambridge University Press
Wills, Christopher (1996) Yellow Fever, Black Goddess: The Coevolution of People and Plagues. Addison-Wesley
Desowitz, Robert S (1981) New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers: Tales of Parasites and People.
Dettwyler, Katherine A. (1994). Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa. Waveland

Additional Readings are on the course blackboard.

ANTH 442: Health and Gender After Socialism (Rivkin-Fish)

Course Description: When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, observers around the world celebrated the advent of freedom and democracy after decades of communist rule. Yet in the immediate aftermath of these reforms, shocking deteriorations in public health registered across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Sexually transmitted diseases skyrocketed, the birth rate plummeted, and Russian men’s life expectancy declined to only 57 years in the late 1990s, to name just a few of the problems people in this region face. What can an anthropological analysis of public health and gender reveal about the complex processes of building new political-economic systems based on democracy and market reforms? As health indicators continued to decline over the last 15 years, scores of analyses have been published to explain the post-Soviet health crisis, and numerous international and domestic projects have been implemented to reverse its various aspects. At stake in these efforts are representations of the socialist system and process of democratization, the workings of global and local health development programs, as well as the political-economic interests of a variety of competing actors.

This course examines the experiences of post-socialist countries as a means of understanding the relationship between political-economic, social, and cultural transitions, on the one hand, and challenges in public health and gender relations, on the other. Three main goals will guide our discussions: 1) to illuminate and understand the ways health and disease are related to broader processes of political and cultural change; 2) to understand how transitions from state socialism to market-based democracies raise challenges for social welfare, equality, and public health; 3) to explore the ways anthropological perspectives on health and social change compare and contrast with related disciplinary approaches, from public health to sociology.

Following an introductory examination of gender and public health issues historically and theoretically, the course is organized according to 3 overarching public health problems related to gender: 1)Reproduction; 2)Sexuality; and 3)Masculinities/ Crisis in Male Mortality.

ANTH 443: Cultures and Politics of Reproduction (Rivkin-Fish)

Course Description: Efforts to organize, interpret, and control processes surrounding human reproduction provide a lens onto the cultural and political debates of contemporary societies. This course takes a cross-cultural approach to understanding how reproduction and associated phenomena (such as family formations and the social use of technologies) become arenas where political debates get played out, and where global and local social relations get contested. Ethnographic case studies include global and US-based studies of hospital-based childbirth, family planning campaigns, relationships and ethical dilemmas associated with new reproductive technologies, sexuality education, and abortion debates. Key themes include the ways reproductive politics and practices intersect with state power, nationalism, global inequalities, and neoliberal globalization processes.

ANTH 444: Medicine, Politics, and Justice (Rivkin-Fish)

Course Description: This course examines intersections between medicine and public health, on the one hand, and politics, on the other. We will examine historical and contemporary cases in which health issues have been invoked for political purposes and incorporated into campaigns for social change, as well as cases in which the political nature of medicine/public health gets denied. To understand the complex implications of these relationships, we will apply anthropological approaches to questions of citizenship, social authority, power, development, and the state to bear on questions of medicine, science, professionalism, the body, and healing. In addition to the politics of nation-states and international agencies, we will also examine the ways concepts of well-being and justice have been defined by informal movements, NGOs, corporate/commercial entities, religious missionaries, and scholar-critics. In the process, we will interrogate the links between medicine/ public health, and politics by asking questions such as: What language becomes available for conceptualizing inequalities in health and disease in various social contexts and historical moments, and in what ways are various languages of justice productive? How do existing understandings change? How do notions of professionalism and scientific objectivity sometimes get harnessed to claims for “justice,” and what happens when these stances are considered ‘outside’ of or even “opposed” to politics? What are the impacts of past experiences of abuse and exploitation on current public health policies and perceptions of medicine? Case studies will include a broad range of geographical sites and political regimes; the kinds of topics we will examine include campaigns against infectious diseases, experiments in socialized health care and post-socialist reforms, the work of medical missionaries, HIV activism, post-colonial movements, and international health development.

ANTH 325: Emotions and Society (Lachicotte)

Course Description: Emotion is an integral and inescapable part of human life, yet, until recently, it had received little attention from the social sciences. Emotion was considered too private, too individual and perhaps too unpredictable and “irrational” to be the subject of social study. This course will take a different perspective, one representative of contemporary social scientific thinking: it will explore the nature of emotions as social and cultural products. Without denying the other dimensions of emotional experience—its personal and physiological bases—the course will trace how social actions and cultural understandings also inform emotions from first to last. Whatever else emotions may be, they are always intimate, social exchanges: signals that make a place for people in social activities, relations and institutions.

The course will explore emotional worlds, both in the contemporary U.S. and abroad in societies strange to us, examining the (variable) relationships among consciousness, emotion and sense of self that different societies create through different cultural forms. It will consider emotion both in “normal” life and when life goes awry, when emotion gives way to emotional disorder. The goal is not to pin emotion down, as one thing or another given to us by “culture” or by “nature,” but to appreciate the human complexities of emotion which are created and made variable by social setting, biological commonalities and differences, and cultural means of knowing self and world.

Required texts: (readings may vary yearly) Arlie R. Hochschild. The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
Catherine Lutz. Unnatural emotions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
Terre Satterfield. Anatomy of a conflict: Identity, knowledge and emotion in old-growth forests. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002.
Theresa O’Nell. Disciplined hearts: History, identity and depression in an American Indian community. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Additional readings are posted online.

ANTH 470: Medicine and Anthropology (Lachicotte)

Course description: Medical anthropology as a sub-discipline of anthropology has traditionally examined the conception and experience of illness and its treatment (“ethnomedicine”) cross-culturally. The introduction of this course will sample classical themes and approaches of medical anthropology by a survey of readings. In the contemporary world, however, biomedicine (“Western medicine”) has become a dominant global means for the understanding and treatment of illnesses. It has affected societies and cultures worldwide, but it has neither destroyed alternative kinds of “medical” knowledge and treatment, nor remained unaltered by them. The second and third parts of the course seek to understand the interplay of biomedicine and alternative or popular medicines. It will focus on two areas of this interplay—1) medical pluralism and globalization and 2) medical technologies, popular culture and “biocapitalism,” the economics of human biological materials—developed through four book-length studies that deal particularly with Haiti, the U.S. and Japan.

By following these studies, we will gain a better idea, not only of contemporary medical realities, but also of the complicated, transnational texture of contemporary human life upon which public health depends. We will confront wonders and horrors: a pastiche of cultural inventiveness, difference and affiliation built in grim traffic with bodily ills, social power and the forces of political economy. Putting health, illness, and medicine into “real world” contexts demands no less.

Required texts: (texts will vary yearly and by instructor)
Paul Brodwin. Medicine and morality in Haiti: The contest for healing power. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Paul Farmer. Infections and inequalities: The modern plagues. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
Margaret Lock. Twice dead: Organ transplants and the reinvention of death. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
Catherine Waldby and Robert Mitchell. Tissue economies: Blood, organs and cell lines in late capitalism. Duke University Press, 2006.
Additional readings are posted online.

ANTH 470: Medicine and Anthropology (Rivkin-Fish)

Course Description: This course investigates the ways anthropological analysis may illuminate the socio-cultural and political-economic aspects of medical practices. We begin by acquainting ourselves with some classic statements on how to study ‘medicine’ as a social phenomenon in both Western and non-Western societies. We then examine 3 sets of key issues through extended ethnographic analysis: 1) stigmatized conditions (e.g., mental illness); 2) health development & health promotion (e.g., for reproductive health); and 3) the cultural and political dimensions of biomedicine (with a focus on the US). Attention will be placed throughout the course on the question of how institutional contexts (e.g., health care systems, state and international organizations’ policies), shape social action and ideologies. We will examine these processes from the perspectives of laypersons/ users of health care services, experts, and social movements. Finally, a central task for our work this semester will be to devise ways of translating anthropological insights about medicine into commentaries for public debate.

ANTH 473: Anthropology of the Body and the Subject (Lachicotte)

Course Description: While the human body has long been the object of scientific and medical investigation, it has recently—and increasingly—attracted the attention of scholars from other disciplines. This course will provide an overview of anthropological investigations of the body, drawing also on readings from cultural studies, history, sociology and philosophy. The approach will be critical: exploring how the study of the body and of embodiment challenges and reshapes our understanding of human subjectivity and its foundations: consciousness, agency, everyday (material) life, practice and experience. In part I of the course, we will examine some classic theoretical approaches to the human body, different ways to think about the body and to think through human life as embodied. In part II, we take up the body as an object of scientific investigation and a subject of medical intervention and institutional instruction. In part III, we consider the “lived body,” first as a medium of social life and product of social history, and second as a means of self-expression and agency. Our goal is not to define what “the body” might be, in some final sense, but to begin teasing out the potentials of bodily life in organisms who inevitably, yet changeably, live through each other: social-material beings.

Required readings: (readings may vary yearly)
Judith Farquhar. Appetites: Food and sex in post-socialist China. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2002.
Margaret Lock & Judith Farquhar (eds.). Beyond the body proper: Reading the anthropology of material life. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2007.
Loïc Wacquant. Body & soul: Notebooks of an apprentice boxer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *