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        The New School for Social Research
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        212.229.5600 or 800.523.5411

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        Aryana Ghazi-Hessami

        Department of Anthropology
        6 East 16th Street, 9th floor
        New York, NY 10003
        Tel: 212.229.5757 x3016
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        Nicolas Langlitz

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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. Fall 2020 Anthropology courses include:

      • Critical Foundations of Social Theory, GANT 6051
        Nicolas Langlitz, Associate Professor of Anthropology

        This seminar introduces students to modern social theory, its historical moorings, and its relationship to the anthropological enterprise. The seminar investigates how the concepts of society and culture evolved in relation to humanist thought and political economic circumstances as Europeans explored, missionized, and colonized. We examine how anthropological theory and practice have been modeled within and against other natural and social science disciplines. We inquire into key debates related to the categories of the human, the social, and the individual; the formation of political institutions and practices; the development of ideas about reason, culture, and human nature; symbolism, consciousness, and personhood; race, gender, and difference; and exchange, class, and capital. In charting how society and culture have been theorized and debated historically, we also reflect on forms of anthropological knowledge and ethnographic sensibilities that are relevant today and their meaning and stakes for a present and future anthropology.

      • Problems in Anthropology, GANT 6065
        Hugh Raffles, Professor of Anthropology

        This seminar provides an introduction to contemporary anthropology as a broad field of inquiry and an academic discipline. Students get glimpses of both the discipline's past and its potential futures. We focus on ethnography as a practice of thinking, representation, and expression, reading books that offer a sense of anthropology's breadth and potential. Depending on class size and student preferences, the course may also involve a practical component.

      • Race, Culture, and the Classification of People, GANT 6113
        Lawrence Hirschfeld, Professor of Anthropology and Psychology

        Few ideas are as potent, as easy to learn, and as difficult to forget as race. This course explores issues about race by disrupting "common sense" and by identifying its psychological and cultural dimensions. The approach is comparative: to examine differences and similarities in thinking about race across cultures and historical periods and to compare race with other important social categories, such as gender and class.

      • Documentalities, GANT 6232
        Ann Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History

        Documents are cultural artifacts with lives and itineraries of their own. While historians treat documents as the grist of their historiographic labors, they have often neglected to reflect on the content lodged in particular documentary forms. Anthropologists, on the other hand, once steered clear of documents altogether, passively and sometimes aggressively sharing Claude Levi-Strauss' contention that ethnology defines itself by the study of “what is not written.” Neither of these postures and approaches holds today. The last decade has seen an explosion in attention to visual and written archives, to “paper trails” and “paper empires” and to the coercive and curative “teaching” task that documents and new forms of documentation perform (the Latin root of "documentation," docere, means "to teach"), in turn challenging the criteria of credibility, evidence, and proof. In this seminar, we look at the wide range of fields and disciplines in which the nature of documentation has come into analytic focus and creative question. Our focus is in part on what constitutes a document and the varied “hierarchies of credibility” to which different kinds of documentation are subject and dismissed or valorized as reliable proof. Not least, we address how documents create the realities which they only ostensibly describe. In accordance with principles of organization, visual, written, verbal, and digital forms of documentation are assigned different values and degrees of proof under specific conditions and at different times. Under the assault of COVID-19, the graphic has been a crucial form of fact production, proof, dissemination of knowledge and a site where the political is played out and inequities of rights and resources are fought over and challenged. Systems of storage and retrieval, forms of reproduction, technological innovation — all shape the political forces to which they rise. Documentation can be a vital technology of rule in itself, the apparatus that shapes and permeates our lives.

      • Anthropology and Design: Objects, Sites, Systems, GANT 6405 
        Shannon Mattern, Professor of Anthropology

        Designers commonly use ethnographic methods, and social scientists often adopt design practices, economies, cultures, and artifacts as their subjects of study, focusing in particular on how design “translates values into tangible experiences,” as anthropologist Dori Tunstall puts it. The New School offers us a unique environment for studying the myriad ways in which these disciplines and practices can inform one another, and we begin our semester by examining those relationships: anthropology of design, ethnography for design, ethnography as design, and so forth. We then explore conceptual case studies, taking up various anthropological concepts and concerns and observing how they’re designed — made material, experiential, and affective and given form — through a range of design practices (from urban design and architecture to fashion and software design), and how anthropological concepts and methods inform those practices. Throughout the semester, we host guest lectures and take field trips (including some TBD!) to see these methods put into action, and students have the opportunity to conduct a final research project, which could take the form of a written research paper, an ethnographic report, or a research-based creative project. While this seminar serves as the core course for the new Anthropology and Design track, graduate students from across the university are encouraged to enroll.

      • Concept Work and Materialization, GANT 6450
        Janet Roitman, Professor of Anthropology

        This seminar brings together two distinct but complementary modes of inquiry: anthropological inquiry into forms of reasoning and design practice that focuses on experimentation with material forms. The premise of the collaboration is that both modes of inquiry entail “concept work,” or attention to the ways concepts both shape material practice and can be given form through material practice. The seminar is projectcentric. Students are encouraged to bring a topic or theme to the class, which they explore through a combination of lenses and approaches from the social sciences and design (text-based inquiry and inquiry through materialization). The structure consists of three phases, based on an open-ended syllabus, to be developed with the members of the seminar depending on their research interests and project proposals: 1) Concept shifts, a set of readings on concept work (Foucault, Rabinow, Marcus), followed and enhanced by tailored readings that serve to open new perspectives and paths of inquiry in relation to students’ research interests and project proposals; 2) Elaborations of propositions and speculations, idea generation using “what if…" scenarios, speculative design methods, and extrapolations from emergent practices; and 3) Materializations, experimentation with a range of media including text, narrative form, photography, models, performance, and video to materialize students’ proposals.

      • PhD ProSeminar I: Methods, GANT 7005
        Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor of Anthropology

        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 with 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 conducts a small fieldwork project based on observation and interviewing, which will be the basis of an analytical case study. This course is also open to PhD Anthropology students. Students must have the permission of the professor in order to register for this course.

      • PhD ProSeminar II: Project Conceptualization, GANT 7006
        Abou Farman, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

        This doctoral seminar is designed to provide analytic tools that should be useful in developing and formulating a conceptually rigorous and ethnographically grounded dissertation project. The focus is on identifying something more than an "interesting issue" or thing — on formulating what constitutes a problematic in the world, one that is feasible and analytically and empirically directed. The seminar sessions alternate between reading and writing exercises that develop your conceptual skills, ethnographic sensibilities, and ethnographic writing abilities. The goal is to clarify your research problematic and the literatures you will need to master. Throughout the semester, participants will share their projects "in formation," with key issues in the formulation of a project outlined in each session. The final paper will be a preliminary research project statement. This course is open only to PhD Anthropology students.
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