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    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 2024 Anthropology courses include: 

    Anthropology Workshop/Colloquium, GANT 5010
    Ann Stoler
    , Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History

    The Workshop/Colloquium is a zero-credit course that runs in both the fall and the spring semesters. It meets weekly on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. (check the AnthroBlog for information on locations). Students are graded pass/fail based on attendance. The Workshop/Colloquium is currently awaiting approval as a curricular requirement; however, attendance is strongly recommended. Your participation in these activities is part of the intellectual life of the department. Workshops are an opportunity for students to discuss issues of importance to their work and future careers and to present their own work-in-progress. Workshops are created and run by student facilitators with the support and advice of faculty. Past topics covered include grant applications, proposal writing, reports on summer research, dissertation outlining, conference presentations, turning chapters into articles, submitting work to journals, and job talks. Colloquia take place several times a semester, with invited speakers presenting recent work and engaging in conversation with students.

    Critical Foundations of Anthropology: Key Concepts, GANT 6051
    Abou Farman
    , Associate Professor of Anthropology

    The very title "Critical Foundations of Anthropology" calls for reflection. “Critical” may refer to one set of concerns, “Foundations” to another. Does the title “Critical Foundations” suggest a critical view of foundations? Is “critical foundations” an oxymoron, since the very purpose of critique is to question what we think we know, to question and destabilize conventional thought, to question one’s confidence in answers? Does it demand that we engage with new questions? Not least we will ask what is included in and excluded from that which was commonly asserted (and protected) as “the canon” and confront the “common” in “common sense.” In this seminar, we will work neither to defend the principles, practices, and politics of an earlier anthropology nor reject and dismiss that work out of hand. The effort here is rather to situate the questions being asked and to inquire why those questions were asked and not others, who was doing the asking, and what constituted the proper domains of inquiry and what did not. Can we make sense of our present by understanding better the political and global landscape in which anthropology developed as a discipline, as a form of knowledge, and as a knowledge-producing machine, one whose "winnowing" practices filtered out its conditions of production and the politics, colonial and otherwise, that have allowed anthropologists to pursue what they once did and do today.

    Theories of Mind and Society, GANT 6110
    Lawrence Hirschfield
    , Professor of Anthropology and Psychology 

    A major task facing all humans is to make sense of the actions of others. Unsurprisingly, given the importance of meeting this challenge, humans everywhere display dedicated capacities that enhance their ability to interpret and predict the behavior of others. On one hand, humans readily mentalize—that is, they attribute to others unseen mental states and expect that these mental states systematically give rise to action. On the other hand, humans readily recognize others as being sorts of people, occupying sorts of roles, and they use this information to understand others’ behavior. This seminar explores these capacities, particularly the psychological and social mechanisms that subserve them. Of particular interest is how these capacities develop, both over an individual’s lifetime, evolutionarily, and comparatively across cultural environments and across species. For MA students of the NSSR Anthropology department, this seminar fulfills the requirements of a Perspectives course.

    Anthropology and Design: Objects, Sites, Systems, GANT6405
    Dana Burton

    Designers commonly use ethnographic methods, and social scientists often adopt design practices, economies, cultures, and artifacts as their subjects of study. 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, affective, and 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 host guest lectures and take field trips (including some TBD!) to see these methods in 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. Permission required. Please fill out this form to request permission to register.

    Technopolitics, GANT6614
    Anita Von Schnitzler
    , Associate Professor of International Affairs

    This course explores the relationship between the political and the technical, with a particular focus on recent work on infrastructure and expertise in the humanities and social sciences. From railroads to communication networks, water pipes, and electricity wires, infrastructures and technology have been central to mediating modernity. Rather than regarding infrastructures as neutral means toward more substantive ends, this course approaches infrastructures as networked systems that both shape and are shaped by social life and thus can open up a broader set of questions in relation to classical questions of political theory, from democracy and citizenship to protest and disagreement. Specifically, we’ll be interested in how infrastructures and technical devices become central to the constitution of political terrains in a context in which the formal political sphere is often de facto inaccessible to many. The course begins by examining the historical relationship between infrastructure, technology, and power through studies of colonial infrastructures, Cold War technopolitics, and the centrality of infrastructure and technology in projects of development and modernization. We then explore contemporary instances of technopolitics, from climate change expertise and the protests surrounding extractive infrastructures to the technopolitical questions laid bare by COVID-19. Reading focus on theory that has influenced the “infrastructural turn” and draw on science and technology studies, anthropology, political theory, and geography. This course requires permission from the instructor to register.

    Problems in Anthropology, GANT6065
    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 possibility. Depending on class size and student preferences, the course may also involve a practical component. This is a core course requirement for Anthropology MA students; interested students in other departments should contact the instructor for permission to register.

    Deep Futures: Feminist Ecological Imaginaries from Latin America, GANT6079
    Columba González-Duarte
    , Assistant Professor of Anthropology

    In this course, we address socioenvironmental questions through the lens of feminist ecological imaginaries. Drawing on political ecology, Latin American feminist thought and practice, and subaltern socioecological struggles, we build a theoretical and methodological tool kit for imagining, creating, and enacting "Deep Futures"—nonlinear, relational time scales centered on life-affirming human–nature relations. The class engages with the ecological “uncanny” from a feminist pedagogical perspective to foster a collaborative learning process. New Latin American feminisms have emerged from environmental and ecological movements, initially linked to resistance against capitalism and modernity. Increasingly, Latin American feminist voices also challenge coloniality and patriarchy and call for a reimagination of theory, methods, and everyday practice to address socioenvironmental issues. This feminism is committed to linking theory, research, and pedagogy with the responsibility to enable other futures for human and more-than-human communities. These Latin American feminists address justice as simultaneously ecological and social, viewing care for all life forms as an urgent task. They also draw attention to how violence traverses ecologies, just as it traverses racialized, disabled, nonbinary, and/or colonized women’s or feminized bodies. Together these feminist voices are opening new horizons for Deep Futures. Inspired by the Deep Futures framework, we will endeavor in this course to cultivate intersectional engaged methods with humans and more-than-humans as a sustained daily practice.

    PhD Proseminar I: Methods, GANT 7005
    Nicolas Langlitz
    , 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 will design and implement a small fieldwork project based on observation and interviewing, which will in turn serve as the basis of an analytical case study. This course is only for PhD students. Permission of the professor is required in order to register for this course.

    PhD Proseminar II: Project Conceptualization, GANT7006
    Ann Stoler
    , Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History

    This doctoral seminar is designed to help students develop and formulate a dissertation project, to develop the questions that they want to pose, and to think about the kinds of material that will allow them to do that. The seminar is focused on ethnography, but this does not mean that it addresses only graduate students in anthropology. The principles and practice of working ethnographically have become increasingly prevalent in a range of fields including sociology, history, politics, philosophy, and global and environmental studies. This interdisciplinary doctoral seminar focuses on ethnography broadly conceived, on multimedia experimental work, and on the epistemologies that shape how it is produced, both one's own imagining of what can be known and that of others with whom one engages, which may be vastly different. That very question may be the subject of your inquiry. As with all dissertation work, one key issue is to develop not only a “subject” but the questions you seek to pose and to define how those questions can help you frame the way you hope to engage your subject. How might you think both about the form and content of your ethnographic efforts? How much does the way we write communicate how people live with things, with others, with their environments in such different ways? The seminar sessions alternate between reading, making, and writing exercises that develop your thoughts around these questions. The goal is to clarify your research problematic and the literature you will need to engage. Enrollment is limited to PhD students in the early stages of developing a research project. Students from any NSSR or Milano PhD program are welcome to apply. Please contact Professor Ann Laura Stoler for permission to join the seminar, as she will be leading it. 

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