- Cities in Global Context — 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 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 (New York, São Paulo, Calcutta, Oakland, Cochabamba, La Paz, Aleppo, Beirut, Nairobi), 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, critical geography, and speculative fiction, 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?
- Political Anthropology: Empire, Militarization and The War on Terror — 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.
City University of New York
- Urban Anthropology — 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.”