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        General Admission Contact
        The New School for Social Research
        Office of Admission
        55 West 13th Street
        New York, NY 10011
        212.229.5600 or 800.523.5411
        SocialResearchAdmit@newschool.edu

        Admissions Liaison
        Aryana Ghazi-Hessami

        Department of Anthropology
        6 East 16th Street, 9th floor
        New York, NY 10003
        Tel: 212.229.5757 x3016
        Fax: 212.229.5595

        Mailing Address
        79 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor
        New York, NY 10003

        Chair 
        Nicolas Langlitz

        Senior Secretary
        Charles Whitcroft

        Student Advisor
        Isabel Arciniegas Guaneme

        Anthropology Student Handbook

        Admission Links

    • 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 2021 Anthropology courses include:

      • Design Ethnography Workshop, GANT 5490
        Shannon Mattern, Professor of Anthropology

        In this workshop, a part of the Anthropology and Design graduate minor, we partner with an external design organization to engage in collaborative ethnographic research. We will examine a range of design ethnographies; explore both traditional ethnographic methods and design research methods; and apply those methods in collaboratively studying a design object, site, system, process, and/or event. While our primary goal is to reflect critically on the design subject itself – asking how ideas are materialized, how expertise and power are negotiated, how collaboration is orchestrated, how communities form around design projects, and so forth – our work will also likely be applicable in informing design practice. In Fall 2021, we’re partnering with Open House New York, an organization dedicated to educating New York residents and about through year-round events and tours, and particularly through its annual OHNY Weekend, when hundreds of city sites (many of which are typically inaccessible) are opened up to the public. This year’s OHNY Weekend takes place on October 16-17; students will need to be available this entire weekend to attend tours and events, both physical and virtual (pending pandemic restrictions). We will begin our semester by liaising with OHNY leaders, focusing in particular on the organization’s work to adapt to our new pandemic condition by designing complementary physical and virtual platforms; its collaboration with smaller, less-well-resourced and marginalized communities; and its role in racial equity and pandemic recovery. We’ll also work with some of OHNY’s local partners to observe and contribute to their own engagement with their communities through OHNY Weekend. On the Weekend itself, we’ll serve as participant-observers, enrolling in tours and events, and observing and interviewing other participants. Ultimately, we want to understand, and help OHNY understand, how it contributes to New Yorkers’ civic engagement – especially in their local neighborhoods – and how the organization could better reflect and reach New York’s diverse places and populations.

      • Unsettled Objects: Troubling Colonialism, GANT 5615
        Jonathan Bach, Professor of Global Studies

        As a new reckoning with the colonial past is, belatedly, taking shape today, former metropoles and colonies are increasingly searching for what Felwine Sarr and Benedicte Savoy call a “new relational ethics” in response to demands for accountability, transparency, and repair for injustice past and present. This course focuses on a key element of this contemporary confrontation: the role of public institutions, particularly museums, archives, universities and related institutions whose own histories are inextricable from the colonial project. How do institutions such as natural history museums, ethnographic collections, contemporary art galleries, film archives, or libraries function as both a target of critique and a means through which former empires reckon with their colonial past? How can ingrained ways of seeing, collecting, conserving, and curating inherited from imperial modernity become inverted, subverted, and diverted? How do collections of artefacts and human remains become sites for multiple contestation of ethics, law, politics, identity, money, and, not least, anthropology itself, as both the subject and object of critique and reinvention? This course approaches imperial formations and their material remains through contemporary practices. Readings are drawn, inter alia, from anthropological theory, ethnographic studies, critical museology, postcolonial curating, and conversations with practitioners and activists. Students will pursue individual site-specific projects. The seminar will be co-taught between the New School and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

      • Critical Foundations of Anthropology, GANT 6051
        Nicolas Langlitz, Associate Professor and Chair 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; 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 academic discipline. Students will get glimpses of both the discipline's past and its potential futures. We will focus on ethnography as a practice of thinking, representation, and expression, reading books that offer a sense of anthropology's breadth and possibility. Depending on class size and student preferences, the course may also involve a practical component.

      • Becoming Social: Culture, Cognition and Early Development, GANT 6165
        Lawrence Hirschfeld, Professor of Anthropology and Psychology (CSD)

        Humans inhabit worlds held together by a constant flow of cultural information, i.e., information that is more generally relevant, repeatedly transmitted, and shared by many or even most members of the group. On one well-known and sensible proposal, culture consists of whatever one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to members one’s group and to enact the social roles that members expect each other to adopt. Being cultural, then, entails acquiring certain mental states and the capacities they afford. This seminar starts from the premise that there is nothing self-evident about becoming cultural. It is thus both curious and disappointing that the dominant account of knowledge acquisition in anthropology and other disciplines concerned with cultural environments has been aptly described as a fax-theory of learning. The goal of this seminar is to explore recent developmental research with an eye toward a more nuanced understanding of how we become such adept cultural actors—and by extension, how we become social. Our focus is on infancy and early childhood. Among the questions we will grapple with are: Is cultural knowledge a distinct domain or kind of knowledge? Many animals inhabit complex social worlds that are not cultural; in what ways is human social life cultural and in what was is it not? E.g., is the development of social knowledge and the interactions it affords governed by the same mechanisms as the development of knowledge about the mental states of individuals and the actions this affords? What role do imitation, analogical thinking, and other relational competencies play in the acquisition of cultural competence? What role does tuition play in acquiring cultural competence? Has evolution prepared humans to be cultural? Can we identify specific evolved adaptations that contribute to, shape, and constrain our cultural worlds and in what ways might these shape and constrain development? This course satisfies requirements in Perspectives for Anthropology students.

      • 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, 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. Over the last decade there has been an explosion in attention both to visual and written archives, to “paper trails,” to “paper empires” and to the Latin root of documentation, docere, to the coercive and curative “teaching” task that documents and new forms of documentation perform that in turn challenge the criteria of credibility, evidence, and proof. In this seminar, we will 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 will be 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’ll address how documents create the realities which they only ostensibly describe. Principles of organization, visual vs. written vs. verbal vs. digital forms of documentation are assigned different values, degrees of proof under specific conditions and at different times. Under the assault of the coronavirus, the graphic has been a crucial form of fact production, proof, dissemination of knowledge and site where the political is being played out and inequities of right and resource 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 vital technologies of rule in themselves, the apparatus that shape and permeate our lives.


      • Anthropology & 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’ll begin our semester by examining those relationships: anthropology of design, ethnography for design, ethnography as design, and so forth. We’ll then explore some conceptual case studies, taking up various anthropological concepts and concerns and observing how they’re designed — made material, experiential, affective; given form — through a range of design practices (e.g., from urban design and architecture to fashion and software design), and how anthropological concepts and methods inform those practices. Throughout the semester we’ll host guest lectures and take field trips (including some TBD!) to see these methods in action, and students will 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.
      • PhD ProSeminar II: Projects, GANT 7006
        Abou Farman, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

        This doctoral seminar is designed to provide some of the 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 but on formulating what constitutes a problematic in the world and 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. 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 only open to Anthropology PhD students.

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