Anthropology Department


Courses of Study

AY112fs    Cultural Anthropology Introduction to the study of human societies and cultures through the concepts and methods of anthropology. Course material will (a) explore the great diversity of human social and cultural arrangements through the investigation of cultural communities around the world and the distinct ways their members experience and understand their lives and (b) investigate the larger historical, political, economic, and symbolic frameworks that shape contemporary human societies and cross-cultural interactions worldwide. Assignments emphasize clarity, concision, and coherence of written and oral arguments, as well as control over and understanding of course content. Four credit hours. S, I. Faculty
AY119j    The Anthropology of Utopias Examines classic utopic and dystopic literature, philosophy, anthropology, art, and film from Plato to the present. Utopian literature involves anthropological reflection about the range of possibilities for human community and related anthropological themes of human social and cultural variability, conflict, and cooperation. Critically explores different utopian and dystopian discourses as vehicles for thinking about a world in crisis and its possible futures, as well as the effects these have on contemporary debates about politics and governance, citizenship, new technologies, media, family, and more. Three credit hours. S. Hriskos
AY125j    Design Thinking and Product Innovation All great products, whether digital or physical, start with an idea. But to be really great they must also meet a need or solve a problem. Design Thinking uses creativity and real-world learning to collaboratively solve big problems. We'll learn how to design and define digital products for a fictional client in the Healthcare or Environmental Sustainability domain. Working in small groups, we'll conduct Discovery, including "minimum viable ethnography," as well as competitive and comparative benchmarking. During Design & Definition, we'll go beyond the research, translating insights into tangible digital products. Coursework requires each student to have access to a personal laptop computer for use during the course (please contact the Dean of Studies office if you need assistance in obtaining a computer). Three credit hours. Naylor
[AY211]    Human Rights and Social Justice in Global Perspective Listed as Global Studies 211. Four credit hours. W2.
[AY221]    Of Beasts, Pets, and Wildlife: What Animals Mean to Humans Explores human-animal relations in cross-cultural and historical perspective to view the centrality of animals to human existence. Considers the social, symbolic, and economic uses of animals in a variety of contexts, from cockfighting in Bali to the corporate culture of Sea World to central Maine farms. Examines the history and philosophies of the animal rights movement from the anti-vivisection campaigns of 19th-century England to contemporary animal rights protests in the United States. Concludes with an analysis of human animality and animal subjectivity to arrive at a deeper understanding of both human and non-human animals. Previously offered as AY297J (Jan Plan 2018). Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 or Philosophy 113 or 114. Three credit hours.
[AY222]    Maine's Musical Soundscapes: Ethnography of Maine Listed as Music 222. Four credit hours. A.
AY226f    Cultural Accounting of Business and Work An intellectual opportunity to examine business and work as part of culture. We focus on the motives and methods of business, with readings from from Veblen, Marx and Graeber as well as contemporary ethnographers of business. Students will reflect on people's lived experiences of markets and work, the culture of modern individualism and the precarity of work in the 21st century. Previously offered as Anthropology 298 (Spring 2019). Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Menair
[AY231]    Caribbean Cultures Considers Caribbean people, places, products, and the webs of domination and resistance that formed and transformed the region and its diasporas. Ethnographies, films, food, music, memoir, and other texts tackle topics like empire building and dismantling; colonialism and postcolonialism; decolonization and displacement; development and underdevelopment; commodification and consumption; labor, revolution, and liberation. Cross-cultural and cross-temporal navigations develop an anthro-historical sensibility about the Caribbean's pivotal place in the world. Also listed as African-American Studies 231. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 or American Studies 276. Four credit hours. I.
[AY232]    Oral History Ethnographic Research Lab: Waterville Main Street In this ethnographic research lab, students will explore the theory and practice of oral history. They will read from a range of sources about the challenges of producing oral history, and they will conduct both archival research and produce oral histories examining the history of Waterville Main Street using Colby's Special Collections and with Waterville residents. Drawing on Digital Maine's previous projects (including American Studies 221, "Mapping Waterville"), the class will produce a collective project presenting oral histories of Waterville Main Street. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Two credit hours.
[AY236]    Illegal Drugs, Law, and the State Drawing on legal and political anthropology, we will examine the legal regimes and cultures of control that target the commerce and consumption of illegal drugs. We will consider the evolution of these policies, their role in the construction of the state, and their impact in a variety of historical moments and social worlds. Case studies will include Prohibition, cocaine, medical and recreational use of marijuana, and alternative forms of political power facilitated by the drug trade, with a special focus on Latin America. Students will gain critical reading and presentation skills and will refine their writing and research skills through the production of an original case-study research project. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours.
[AY242]    Anthropology of Latin America: City Life An introduction to anthropological research on Latin America, with a particular focus on contemporary urban life. Cities attract migrants seeking new forms of communal life, educational and economic opportunities, and escape from war. We will examine the transformation of gender roles, political participation, and cultural production. Goals include learning to apply an anthropological lens to discussions of and gaining a basic knowledge of issues facing contemporary Latin America. Students will gain critical reading and discussion-facilitation skills and will refine writing skills through the production of review essays. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours.
AY244f    Anthropology of Religion Introduces students to the anthropological study of religion, focusing on the lived experience of religion in a variety of historical, social, and cultural contexts. Examines religious symbols, ritual, possession, magic, and the relationship between religion and modernity. Cross-cultural investigation of diverse religious phenomena through ethnographic case studies, including ethno-religious violence in Sri Lanka, Buddhist spirit possession, and women's participation in the mosque movement in Egypt. Students will use concepts learned in class to design and carry out an independent research project on a relevant topic of their choosing. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. I. Strohl
AY245f    Development and Environmental Issues in China See East Asian Studies 242. Four credit hours. S, I. Zhang
AY246s    Religion and Everyday Life in Muslim Societies Introduces students to the anthropology of religious practice in Muslim societies. We will examine the roles of a diverse set of religious values, beliefs, and rituals in the daily lives of Muslim men and women around the world. We will also investigate how social processes like the Islamic revival, the war on terror, migration, and globalization shape, and are shaped by, ordinary Muslims' religiosity. Students will read work by ethnographers, journalists, novelists, and activists to examine these issues in places like Lebanon, Pakistan, Indonesia, France, and the United States. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. I. Strohl
[AY247]    Colombian Politics through Film Examines contemporary Colombian political culture through readings and contemporary Colombian feature films. Themes include political identity and belonging, insurgencies and guerrilla warfare, rural economies and urban development, drug trafficking and illegal economies, discrimination, memory, and social conflict. Students will learn a range of perspectives on recent Colombian history, politics, economy, and social relations. Through readings, films, and discussion, students will develop their anthropological thinking and critical analysis skills, and enhance their abilities to express complex ideas and to support their arguments using concrete evidence in both written and oral modes of communication. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Three credit hours.
[AY251]    Global Displacement, Understanding Refugees and Refugee Policy Listed as Global Studies 251. Four credit hours. S, I.
AY252s    Language in Culture and Society Listed as Global Studies 252. Four credit hours. Halvorson
AY253f    Cultural Perspectives on Global Economies Listed as Global Studies 253. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Halvorson
[AY255]    Global Health: Critical Perspectives on Health, Care, and Policy Listed as Global Studies 255. Four credit hours. S, W2.
AY256f    Land, Food, Culture, and Power An examination of cultural and political aspects of land and other resource use, using the lens of political ecology and, a variety of ethnographic examples in different parts of the world. Case studies focus on ongoing conflicts over contested resources and related efforts to challenge experiences of environmental and food injustices. Students will apply conceptual tools from political ecology and environmental anthropology to develop a research project on a relevant topic of their choosing. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Mills
AY258f    Anthropology, History, Memory Anthropologists have depicted cultural systems as timeless, paying limited attention to how historical experiences produce, and how they are shaped by, everyday beliefs and actions. Examines the significance of history for anthropological understanding and vice versa. Investigates how different cultures construct the past and how the past shapes everyday lives, our own and others. Explores sites such as myths, monuments, bodies, and archives. Questions what is the past? How is it present? How do societies remember? How do they forget? Topics include technology, time, travel, commemoration, war. Formerly offered as Anthropology 298B. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 or American Studies 276 or a 100-level history course. Four credit hours. Bhimull
[AY259]    Reading Ethnography The ethnographic genre is unique to anthropology. Through focused reading and discussion of four to five ethnographies grouped around a particular theme, students will develop analytic and critical reading skills. Each semester will offer a different theme, such as biotechnology, mobility, and auto-ethnography. We will focus on the form and genre of the assigned ethnographies, engage in close textual analysis, and read comparatively. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Two credit hours.
[AY261]    Japanese Language and Culture Listed as East Asian Studies 261. Four credit hours. S.
AY262s    Music in Life, Music as Culture: Introduction to Ethnomusicology Listed as Music 262. Four credit hours. A, I. Zelensky
AY268f    Politics of Satire and Humor in Modern China Listed as East Asian Studies 268. Four credit hours. S, I. Zhang
AY276s    African-American Culture in the United States Listed as American Studies 276. Four credit hours. S, U. Gilkes
[AY277]    Culture of Cuteness: Japanese Women (in English) Listed as East Asian Studies 277. Four credit hours. S, D, I.
[AY278]    Language and Gender Listed as East Asian Studies 278. Four credit hours. S, I.
AY297f    Reading Ethnographies of Climate Change The ethnographic genre is unique to anthropology. Through focused reading and discussion of ethnographies on the theme of climate change, students will develop analytic and critical reading skills in this genre. The texts approach climate change from a wide variety of anthropological perspectives, from the impact of fossil fuel extraction on host communities to disaster relief efforts to community-based initiatives of ecological sustainability. We will focus on the form and genre of the assigned ethnographies, engage in close textual analysis, and read comparatively. Class will be run as an open discussion seminar. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Besteman
AY298s    Pop Culture in Latin America Looks at a variety of pop culture forms from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, including music, dance, sport, television and film, social media, art, beauty, and consumer products. Readings and assignments explore pop culture in relation to important regional social issues, particularly those rooted race, gender, and class inequalities. Examines the potential of pop culture to both challenge and reinforce power relations. Working from varied case examples, students will explore these dynamics through class discussion and individual research projects including formal written work and other assignments. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Haynes
AY298As    Religious Violence Listed as Global Studies 298A. Four credit hours. W2. Maidhof
AY298Bs    The Bourgeoisie Listed as Global Studies 298B. Four credit hours. Maidhof
AY313f    Researching Cultural Diversity Focus on ethnography as both the central research strategy of anthropologists and the written text produced by such research. Examines anthropological methods of data collection and ethnographic writing as these encompass not only the discipline's historical focus on localized communities but also contemporary understandings of connections to global processes, the analysis of complex inequalities, and a reflexive and engaged relationship with the human world. Explores practical strategies for conducting ethnographic research, including interviewing, observation, and other modes of qualitative data collection; the ethical issues presented by such research; and the application of analytical and theoretical models. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112, a 200-level anthropology course, a W1 course, and sophomore standing. Four credit hours. Strohl
AY316s    Religion and Social Change in Contemporary Africa Listed as Global Studies 316. Four credit hours. Halvorson
AY326s    Comparing Inequalities: Caste and Race Introduces students to the history of anthropological theorizing about caste in South Asia and race in the United States. We will also look at a critical body of texts written by scholar-activists comparing the institutions of Jim Crow to caste discrimination in post-Independence India. Topics may vary according to student interest, but include: inequality and hierarchy, gender, inter-caste and inter-racial romance, affirmative action, social movements, violence, and purity and pollution. In addition to examining the ethnographic record of caste and race, students will read critical texts about the use of the comparative method in anthropology. Students will complete a research project comparing caste and race in a specific social and historical context of their choosing. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. S. Strohl
AY333f    Contemporary Theory An analysis of the contemporary state of cultural anthropology through the investigation of contemporary theoretical approaches of central importance to the discipline. Examination of key theoretical concepts and their relevance for designing research questions, generating ethnographic perspectives, and building anthropological knowledge. Special attention to political economy, symbolic anthropology, poststructuralism, reflexive anthropology, postmodernism, and feminist and postcolonial anthropology. Assignments include both written and oral modes of analysis; strong emphasis on discussion and collaborative debate. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112, a 200- or 300-level anthropology course, a W1 course, and junior or senior standing. Four credit hours. Besteman
AY339s    Asian Pacific Modernities Dramatic changes, particularly in the latter half of the 20th century, have transformed social and cultural expectations throughout the Asia Pacific region. Across Asia, everyday life is profoundly shaped by processes of globalization and powerful discourses of modernity. What does it require to make oneself a modern citizen in Thailand, Japan, China, or the Philippines? How do people live, shop, and entertain themselves on a daily basis? Through case studies and independent research, students explore the region's dynamic social and cultural transformations, with particular emphasis on East and Southeast Asia. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Mills
[AY341]    Culture, Mobility, Identity: Encounters in the African Diaspora Use of text, film, food, and music to examine how African and African-descended people made and remade the modern world. Surveys how past and present cultural practices dialogically shaped the formation, transformation, and flows of the diaspora. Attention to the dynamics of circulation, contact, exchange, and estrangement facilitates travels through the Afro-Atlantic world. Inquiry into archives and other sites of memory enables consideration of the scale, scope, and impact of black action and imagination. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 or American Studies 276. Four credit hours. S, I.
AY344f    Black Radical Imaginations A seminar about the complex history of black radical imagination. Explores how black people have long used imagination as a strategy for survival, resistance, emancipation, liberation, and to create worlds of joy and love. It is concerned with black intellectual activism in the African diaspora and examines a range of cultural movements against racialized forms of oppression, including black surrealism and Afrofuturism. Prerequisite: American Studies 276 or Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Bhimull
[AY352]    Global Activism: From Socialist Internationalism to Today Listed as Global Studies 352. Four credit hours. S.
[AY353]    Globalization and Human Rights in China Listed as East Asian Studies 353. Four credit hours. S.
[AY355]    Aging and Public Policy in East Asia Listed as East Asian Studies 355. Four credit hours. S, I.
[AY361]    Militaries, Militarization, and War Examines the ways in which military conflict and institutions shape and are shaped by cultural, economic, and political forces in contemporary societies, especially in the Americas. Topics include the role of military service in creating and reinforcing gender norms, citizenship, and national identities; the ways in which war and militarized violence are experienced and commemorated; and ongoing controversy over counterinsurgency, internal defense, and modern forms of warfare. Students will develop their ethnographic skills through research and presentations. Formerly offered as Anthropology 398B. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. S.
[AY363]    Secrecy and Power This seminar examines the use of secrecy in political, religious, and social contexts. Students will engage with theoretical, ethnographic, and historical texts to trace the development of key analytical, methodological, and ethical issues concerning the anthropological study of concealment. Topics will vary according to student interest but may include transparency, surveillance, publicity, privacy, passing, argots, codes and ciphers, dissimulation, esotericism, and epistemology. Students will complete an independent research project on the use of secrecy in a historical or social context of their choosing. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. I.
[AY365]    Space, Place, and Belonging Examines the origins of human claims to belonging in particular places and landscapes. We consider embodied space, as well as how place produces and is produced by gender, race, and other social identities. Our analysis spans spatial scales, with a particular focus on the Americas. We examine the social processes of community formation, enabling connection even as they generate exclusions and boundaries; the infrastructures of place and community, their material deployment and how they enable particular forms of belonging; and how mobility in the contemporary moment contributes to the emergence of new identities as well vulnerabilities. Four credit hours.
AY366f    Technocultures Through intensive ethnographic reading and discussion, we will address a set of questions: How have recent technological innovations shaped personhood and social life? How have infrastructural technologies like hydraulics and electrical grids shaped citizenship and democracy? How have biotechnologies altered understandings of the body? How have algorithmic technologies changed social life? How have recent technological innovations impacted inequality, racism, and other forms of social difference? And how have techno-fantasies offered novel visions of social organization? This senior seminar takes us through ethnographic treatments of the relationship between technology and culture and requires a culminating term research project. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 and one other anthropology course. Four credit hours. S. Besteman
AY373f    The Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality Gender and sexuality represent fundamental categories of human social and cultural experience; in every human society, understandings about gender and sexuality constitute powerful aspects of individual identity that shape and are shaped by key aspects of social relations and cultural belief. Yet specific beliefs and social structures vary tremendously across cultures. An investigation of the varied ethnography of gender and sexuality as well as important theoretical concerns: how meanings are attached to the human body, production and reproduction of gender hierarchies, and processes by which gender and sexual meanings (and associated social forms) may be transformed or contested in societies. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112 and one other anthropology course. Four credit hours. U. Mills
[AY374]    Public Anthropology An exploration of innovative ways in which anthropology is used for proactive, public engagement in policy implementation and transformative social action. We review the history of disciplinary efforts at public engagement and experiment with our own approaches to engagement using ethnography, cultural critique, and collaborative methodologies. Students will develop oral and written communication skills through individual and collaborative projects, experiment with different ethnographic genres, and assess the effectiveness of different approaches to public engagement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours.
AY397f    Indigeneity and the Politics of Authenticity Globally, indigenous peoples face a variety of social and institutional pressures. These include the need to be recognized by settler states, (mis)representations of Native peoples in public media, as well as internal community expectations about proper indigenous personhood. This course explores indigeneity as a political status, a supposed biological category, a social experience, and a point of departure for political involvement and activism. Case materials are drawn from North and South America, Oceania, with some examples from Europe and Asia. Students will develop their anthropological skills through research and presentations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Haynes
AY397Af    Colonialism, Poet-colonialism, Settler Colonialism Listed as Global Studies 397. Four credit hours. Maidhof
AY398Bs    Anthropology of Social Media Explores the emerging significance of contemporary social media and its effects on communication, relationships, identities, education and power relations in different cultural contexts. Explores both the content produced on social media platforms and the use of social media as a research method for investigating the intersection of online and offline spaces in peopleŲs everyday lives. Drawing on both ethnographic and theoretical analyses of social media, students learn different methods for analysing social media, culminating in an original research project. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112. Four credit hours. Haynes
AY421s    Anthropology of Creativity Creativity is a vital part of cultural life and social transformation. Anthropologists have long traced its meanings and manifestations across different historical and cultural contexts, from ethnographies of the extraordinary and collective to the study of the ordinary and individual. We will explore a range of topics relevant to the critical investigation of human capacities for and responses to possibility, destruction, spontaneity, empathy, radical imagination, structural oppression, and social emancipation. Creative expressions considered include poetry, dance, music, social media, experimental ethnography, Afrofuturism, and other aesthetic realms. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112, and 313 or 333 (either may be taken concurrently), and junior or higher standing. Four credit hours. Bhimull
[AY451]    Justice and Injustice in Global Europe Listed as Global Studies 451. Four credit hours.
AY455f    Intervention: The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarianism Listed as Global Studies 455. Four credit hours. S. Halvorson
[AY457]    Insurgent Mobility Lab: Migrants, Activists, the Balkan Route Listed as Global Studies 457. Four credit hours. S, I.
[AY464]    Anthropology of Food Food is essential to human life. Yet the significance of food for human being extends far beyond calories and nutrition. What counts as food is deeply shaped by cultural meanings and associations. Food can signify distinctive cultural identities; it can mark proud or shameful histories and global connections; it can point to (or obscure) deeply embedded structures of power and relations of inequality and privilege, both within and across diverse societies. Food offers rich fields for anthropological theorizing and fruitful avenues for extending critical research skills. Course work culminates in an independent, original research project and oral presentation. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112, and 313 or 333 (either may be taken concurrently), and junior or higher standing. Four credit hours.
[AY466]    Technocultures Through intensive ethnographic reading and discussion, we will address a set of questions: How have recent technological innovations shaped personhood and social life? How have infrastructural technologies like hydraulics and electrical grids shaped citizenship and democracy? How have reproductive technologies altered understandings of the body and the family? How have algorithmic technologies changed food production, public education, the financial sector, and border security? How have recent technological innovations impacted inequality, racism, and other forms of social difference? And how have techno-fantasies offered novel visions of social organization? Prerequisite: Senior standing as an anthropology major or minor. Four credit hours.
AY483fj    Honors in Anthropology Prerequisite: Senior standing, admission to the honors program, and permission of the supervising faculty member. Three or four credit hours. Faculty
[AY483J]    Honors in Anthropology Noncredit.
AY491f, 492s    Independent Study Individual topics in areas where the student has demonstrated the interest and competence necessary for independent work. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Two to four credit hours. Faculty
AY498s    Theories of the State Listed as Global Studies 498. Four credit hours. Maidhof