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    Charles Whitcroft

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    Isabel Arciniegas Guaneme

    Anthropology Student Handbook

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  • Courses in the Department of Anthropology explore the entwined concepts of “knowing that” and “knowing how.” All courses in the department follow one of two tracks. The “Perspectives” track examines different viewpoints on the subject of anthropological research. The “Practices” track trains students in ethnographic fieldwork and other research methods.

  • Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Spring 2023 Anthropology courses include: 

    Ethnographies from the Edge of Capitalism, GANT 5230
    Jonathan Bach, Professor of Global Studies

    Capitalism, by its very design, always pushes the edge: of markets, of beliefs, of people, of nature. In doing so, it produces forms of excess that no system seems able to fully control. This class examines ethnographically what happens to the excesses that capitalism produces at the edges of the global economy, where life is often lived in ruins, and what it means to write about them. It explores how people remake their symbolic and material worlds in ways that are often unexpected and unpredictable when they are faced with totalizing logics that turn their worlds upside down. The class involves reading, slowly and patiently, ethnographies from the edges of the global economy. Readings will likely include cases of Indigenous communities invoking the Devil as they become workers in South American tin mines and plantations, Southeast Asians foraging in Oregon’s forests today for high-value mushrooms on the periphery of capitalist production, teenagers in Jamaica whose scams of North Americans become inseparable from questions of Black repair after colonialism and structural adjustment, and the ephemeral space of the air itself as it shifts under pollution, climate change, and technologies of manipulation. All of these cases, in very different ways, show how people adapt to the upheavals that come with systemic economic change. Arguing against reductionist analysis, the class probes the interstices of a global economy that thrives on living on the edge. Students will write short essays based on close readings and a longer paper/project on an edge of the economy of their choice. Readings may include works by Anna Tsing, Michael Taussig, Jovan Scott Lewis, and Jerry Zee. 

    Politics of Memory, GANT 5700
    Jonathan Bach, Professor of Global Studies

    Nations rely on memories, yet today national territories are increasingly becoming sites of encounter where national memories are dis- and relocated and overlap in new and complicated ways, especially for controversial memories stemming from state violence. This class explores how migration is changing the role of memory and how memory itself travels across generations and geographies. How do people removed in time and space from original, often traumatic, events endow them with meaning and power in the present, and with what effects? How do memory institutions (memory laws, archives, memorials, museums, schools, but also literature, theater, and film) negotiate the shifting roles of personal and collective memory? Empirical cases from around the world include the memorialization of controversial events outside the home country (e.g., commemoration of Korean “comfort women” in the United States and attempts to recognize the Armenian genocide in Germany in the context of Holocaust memory and Turkish migration), the deployment of collective memory in national discourses to frame migrant and refugee crises including migrant deaths (e.g., in Europe, the United States, and Australia), slavery (e.g., African burial grounds in New York) and the growing tension between the national and the transnational in dealing with dislocated memories. Readings draw on memory studies, anthropology, political science, sociology, comparative literature, performance studies, and media and film. Students complete an independent research project in which they explore the dynamics of entangled memory in a specific case or cases. 

    Colonial (and Other) Histories of the Present, GANT 6125
    Ann Laura Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History

    In 1950, the don of British anthropology, Evans Pritchard, warned that anthropology would have to choose between being history or being nothing. What did he mean by that statement? How prescient was he in charting the direction that anthropology would take in the 21st century? This course explores the changing form and content of historical reflection in the making of anthropology as a discipline, a set of practices, and a mode of inquiry. It starts from the notion that anthropological knowledge is always grounded in implicit and explicit assumptions about the ways in which the past can be known, how people differently use their pasts, and what counts in different societies as relevant and debatable history. We examine the range of forms in which the past is imagined to be known: the written and more general inscription of the past in written and visual documents, material objects, memory, and literary form and how ethnographers in historical pursuit draw on these forms of knowledge. We look at how different understandings of the relationship between history, culture, and power and the concepts that join them—habitus, architecture, cultural debris, social memory, genealogy, tradition—have given shape to critical currents in ethnographic method and social theory. This course draws on work from a range of disciplines, and students from all disciplines are welcome to join. Please note this course will meet twice each week for the first half of the semester. 

    Methodologies of Care, GANT 6152
    Katharina Schramm, 2022–2023 Theodor Heuss Professor

    The epistemic and institutional frameworks we work in are inextricably linked with capitalist modes of dispossession, accumulation, extractivism, and the hierarchies and inequalities emerging from them. Decolonial scholarship has addressed these issues and has sparked important critical debates about the possibilities of knowing (and being) otherwise. Still, there are hard-core methodological and epistemological issues that remain unresolved, especially when it comes to ethnographic practice and empirical inquiry. In this course, we seek to ground and concretize the way a decolonial methodology could look like in specific sites and research settings. Starting with Maria Puig de la Bellacasa's (2017) notion of matters of care as the practice of “assembling neglected things,” we map out empirical trajectories toward such a practice. We discuss forms of collaboration and refusal as they emerge in different situations. We also pay attention to methodologies beyond the gaze and the word (like sound, smell, and touch) and ask about their critical potential. Students are encouraged to bring in their own research interests and to share their work. 

    Future Transmission, GANT 6505
    Abou Farman, Associate Professor of Anthropology

    Etymologically, transmission comes from Latin terms that mean "to send beyond or across." Today it also refers to the spread of that which is transmitted—acquiring on the way overtones of contagion, whether of knowledge or disease. In every transmission, there is change—in space, in the material or medium, in temporalities, in social and epistemic possibilities. We understand transmission as both a horizontal movement across space or populations and a vertical movement from and to other time zones (e.g., generations) that must take into account the medium (e.g., crowds, electromagnetic waves) that connects histories, memories, and actions to possibilities and receptions from others and from the future and imaginaries of the future. Transmission is not preservation, but it is also not a rupture with or erasure of the past (as with modernity’s future). Thus, transmission allows us to think with different temporalities, spatialities, and materialities. Thinking about the politics of transmission, from within settler colonialism and racial capitalism, we engage with both the threats and the ideals of transmission using film, anthropology, installation, activism, and social theory, considering unusual sites and modes of transmission, from possession to prison radio. Who in the beyond is to receive what is sent? How will it be received? There is a strong practical and interdisciplinary component to this course.

    Phd Proseminar I: Methods, GANT 7005
    Hugh Raffles, Professor and Chair of Anthropology; Director, Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought

    The purpose of this graduate seminar is to orient master's and doctoral students to the pragmatic, conceptual, and epistemological details of fieldwork and the reporting and narration of ethnographic work as it presents itself in the immediacy of everyday human experience. We explore a broad range of issues, from the practicalities of fieldwork to the epistemology of research, from modes of analysis of various forms of data to ethical issues in research and trends in reporting and narrating ethnographic work. The goal of this seminar is to help students prepare for extended ethnographic fieldwork. Apart from gaining familiarity with both technical "how-to" literature and ongoing debates about the nature of ethnography, each student designs and implements a small fieldwork project based on observation and interviewing, which serves as the basis of an analytical case study. This course is open only to Anthropology PhD students. 

    Phd Proseminar lll: Grant Writing, GANT 7006
    Lawrence Hirschfeld, Professor of Anthropology and Psychology (CSD)

    This seminar is a practical course in grant writing. It has three goals: to help you clarify and present your research project; to help you develop an understanding of grant proposals as process and genre; and to increase your chances of obtaining funding. 

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