At Northeastern University, I teach both graduate and undergraduate courses on globalization, development, racial capitalism, security, war, militarization, cities, social justice and our department’s introductory course in Anthropology. My course evaluations are consistently at the very top of the university and department rankings. (For evidence of excellence in teaching see my most recent evaluations here: INTL 3200 Fall_2020 and SOCL 7221Fall_2020).
I am interested in supervising projects on topics on development, security, international conflict, social movements, urban studies, racial capitalism. My regional areas of expertise are Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean, but I also supervise students working in Latin America, Europe and North America. Potential PhD students are welcome to sign up for my office hours.
Syllabi for all of my course are available below.
At the heart of my teaching philosophy is the ethos of creating a learning environment that is engaged, collective and reflexive. Insofar as my research is concerned with issues of power, inequality, and social justice, my approach to teaching also reflects these concerns. In my classes students learn to bring theory to bear on analyzing power in both macro and micro social structures, from the global political economy to the psychological terrain of fear and (in)security. I think of learning as a social process and of the classroom as a space for experimentation and growth. Thus, it must equally be a space where students feel valued, heard and able to explore and express themselves.
In this respect, I view the teacher’s role as akin to that of a community organizer who must, as the saying goes, “meet people where they are at,” in order to create a space for both vulnerability and self-reflexivity alongside the over-arching enterprise of critical thinking. Taking seriously issues of power in the classroom, I draw on feminist, anti-colonial and anti-racist approaches to both syllabi and facilitation style. Here, I also draw from my own experience as facilitator and facilitation trainer in various activist groups and social movements (from anti-war movement in 2003 to Occupy Wall Street in 2011). That is, I explicitly seek to facilitate a classroom environment of trust in which discussion-driven classes are built on a foundation of collective participation, reflexive attention to power and an explicit engagement with issues of justice.
A second pillar of my pedagogy is an emphasis on the importance of writing. In my courses, I approach research and writing as a dialectically integrated practice. Ideally, students come away from my classes not only with a general mastery the course topic, but also with a refinement of their writing skills. The rationale behind this is that writing is an important life skill. Being able to write clearly improves a student’s critical thinking and analysis. Better writers are better readers. And as better readers, students become better researchers, able to both produce their own research and critically engage the work of others.
Courses taught at Northeastern
Globalization, Development & Social Justice [SOCL 7221] (Syllabus SOCL7221)
This graduate seminar explores the dynamics of neoliberal globalization and its impact on local communities, nation-states, cities, and other spaces and places around the world. It examines the articulation of local-global forces as well as complex patterns of resistance ranging from place-based struggles to transnational social movements. The course begins by considering diverse sociological approaches to development and underdevelopment in the world capitalist system, including modernization, dependency, and world systems theories. We then examine the concepts of racial capitalism and gendered capitalism to provide theoretical grounding for understanding diverse forms of accumulation and resistance within the world system. Next, we turn to Haiti to theorize the longue durée histories of revolution and counter-revolution, followed by readings on new imperialisms of the present-day. We then explore the emergence of neoliberalism and contemporary finance capital, as well as alternative popular and grassroots movements at local, regional, and transnational scales. This is followed by several classes on the global production, gender, race, and migration in China and across the U.S.-Mexico border, the making of racial capitalism through oil extraction in Africa, and resistance against the prison-boom in California. We conclude with readings on the globalization of the police and the long counter-revolution, alongside emergent urban and transnational social movements. The class combines theoretical analysis of global capitalism, neoliberalism, development, and resistance with the study of concrete struggles in defense of land, labor, human rights, indigenous cultures and identities, and ecological sustainability in Africa, Asia, The Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States.
Cities in Global Context [INTL 3200] (Syllabus INTL3200)
Cities today are caught in processes of massive upheaval and global social transformation. Some cities are awash in capital as global finance injects massive amounts of cash into urban real estate markets transforming cities in the image consumption, luxury condos, and rampant gentrification. Other cities are awash in violence, caught in the nexus of war, insurrection, and expanding security infrastructures. Across the world, dynamics of urban segregation, exclusion, and apartheid which manifest today have deep historical roots which need to be excavated. And conversely, cities are today (and have historically been) important sites of rebellion, protest, insurrection, and revolution. Everywhere climate change threatens to radically transform society and the urban fabric of our world. This course takes the social and political questions surrounding these volatile dynamics of contemporary urban transformation, focusing-in on several cities and zooming-out to analyze the broad axes of power (race, class, capital, security and environmental crisis) through which cities across the globe are being transformed. Drawing on readings in urban anthropology, sociology, and critical geography, we will ask how cities are being radically restructured in the contemporary period. Broadly, we will develop an analysis of how power works in and through the city – that is, how the urban fabric itself becomes a medium through power operates. More narrowly, the course will ask: How is urban space produced? Who has the right to shape the city? How is urban exclusion and segregation maintained and reproduced over time? How are divisions or race, class, gender, and historical patterns of marginality reproduced in the city? How do political imaginaries shape the city? And what can contemporary urban forms and processes tell us about the future of urban life on the planet?
Security, Culture, Power [INTL3450] (Syllabus INTL3450)
From gated communities to neighborhood watch groups, internet surveillance to counterterrorism operations, anti-refugee populisms to the proliferation of prisons, security increasingly permeates every aspect of modern life. As Joseph Masco has written: “If you use a computer, phone, or credit card you are likely interacting with the security state and your records are likely to be stored for many years.” How did we get here? And how should we understand security’s ubiquity? In this course we will explore security as a set of historical and contemporary phenomena. We will develop tools to critically understand and analyze what security is and how it operates. We will begin with theoretical readings on security from Foucauldian and Marxist approaches, critical security studies, critical race theory, feminist and queer theoretical approaches in order to theorize and grapple what security does in the world today. We will dig deep in the history of security, examining the logics of exclusion, enclosure, colonialism, racial and gendered subjugation and dispossession as pivotal for understating the logic of security in the modern world. This historical and theoretical grounding will then provide the foundation for examining important contemporary topics in security: prisons, policing, migration, empire, urban redevelopment, military bases, and the war on terror. Through the course, students will develop a critical analysis of how power operates through security, and how security in turn produce and reinforces structures of inequality, spatial segregation and violence. As such, the course offers a critical and interdisciplinary approach to the study of security. In dealing with questions of how security shapes cities, states, space and society from the cultural and psychological terrain of fear to the international terrain war, migration and transnational conflicts, students will analyze the politics, culture, geography and history of security as a major force shaping the contemporary world.
Political Anthropology: Empire, Militarization and The War on Terror [ANTH 3417] (Syllabus ANTH3417)
This seminar in Political Anthropology examines some of the major social, political and cultural transformations precipitated by the so-called “global war on terror.” While the headlines in the news read of terrorism, drone attacks, and the possibilities of a new war in the Middle East, this course takes a critical look at the discourses, cultures, economics, and politics of our present era of permanent war, asking: how did we get here?Taking a critical anthropological lens on the war on terror, the course focuses on pressing contemporary questions about the militarization of culture, the political economy of permanent war, the colonial roots of counterinsurgency, and geopolitics of islamophobia. It has been nearly two decades since the inception of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and today the world is arguably more insecure, violent, destabilized, and conflict prone than ever before. “Terrorism” has become an expedient global category everywhere for security and political repression as well as the construction of vast military and security apparatuses. In this course, we will both follow current events and discuss them in class. But ultimately, students will develop tools to understand present day conflicts in relation to longer genealogies of conquest, colonialism, war, and racism that in many ways still form the cultural and political underpinnings of American imperialism and shape our present world.
Peoples and Cultures of the World (Introduction to Anthropology) [ANTH 1101] (Syllabus ANTH1101)
This course is an introduction to the methods, approaches, central questions, and uses of cultural anthropology. We will cover the fundamentals of the cultural anthropological approach to studying culture, including how such research is done, and what kinds of questions and principles guide such research. We will address a number of particular areas of study, such as gender, race, and globalization. Readings and lectures will also cover a wide array of cultural regions across the globe. Another theme in the course will be the usefulness of cultural anthropological research, both in particular research settings and, more generally, in teaching non-anthropologists greater awareness and understanding of their own and others’ cultures. Learners will (1) develop a greater awareness and understanding of their own and others’ cultures, (2) understand how research into culture and community is done and what kinds of questions and principles guide such research, (3) will be able to utilize social science data to understand human diversity, (4) be able to understand and apply anthropological research to a myriad social problems, and (5) be able to better discern how culture and power operate in society.
Courses taught at CUNY
What are the forces shaping urban change? Are these changes ‘inevitable’? Why do people live in cities, migrate to them, or leave them at particular historical moments? What makes a space ‘public’? In this class we will explore the nature of cities, public spaces, and the social forces at work in processes of urban change. Many of our readings will focus on New York City and will take up contemporary political issues and struggles. We begin by asking questions about what makes a city and how to define the ‘urban.’ We approach these topics through methodological and theoretical questions about how to study cities. These preliminary readings and discussions will be followed by classes focusing on contemporary topics such a gentrification, mass incarceration, urban protest, and urban poverty. We will explore these topics through classic texts from urban studies and urban anthropology, as well as through films, news article and literature.”
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Cultural anthropology is the study of how humans organize and understand their lives and the world around them. Classically anthropologists have studied cultures through the analysis of beliefs, behaviors, rituals, symbolic systems, and social structures. Anthropologists, like other social scientists, make observations and build theories to understand how societies structure the lives of individuals and how, in turn, individuals act in accordance with or in resistance to those structures. Critical approaches in contemporary anthropology are concerned with issues of how power, oppression and inequality are produced and perpetuated through race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality. In this course we will work in this contemporary ‘critical tradition’ and we will explore these topics by reading classic anthropological texts, contemporary social theory, fiction, as well as through multi-media & documentary films. This course will give students a basic understanding and grounding in some of the major debates, methods, concepts and objectives of contemporary anthropological inquiry.