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  • Current Courses

  • 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 2022 Anthropology courses include:


    CRITICAL FOUNDATIONS OF ANTHROPOLOGY
    , GANT 6051
    Ann Laura Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History

    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; and 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 and Director, Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought

    This seminar provides an introduction to contemporary anthropology as a broad field of inquiry and 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. 


    ANTHROPOLOGY & DESIGN: OBJECTS, SITES, SYSTEMS, GANT 6405
    Barbara Adams, Assistant Professor of Design and Social Justice

    Designers commonly use ethnographic methods, and social scientists often adopt design practices, economies, cultures, and artifacts as subjects of study, focusing 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 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.


    THEORIES OF MIND & SOCIETY, GANT 6110
    Lawrence Hirschfeld, 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 different sorts of people, occupying different sorts of roles, and they use this information to understand others’ behavior. This seminar explores these capacities, particularly the psychological and social mechanisms that serve them. Of particular interest is how these capacities develop, over an individual’s lifetime, evolutionarily, and comparatively, across cultural environments and species. 


    TECHNOPOLITICS, GANT 6614
    Antina von Schnitzler, Associate Professor of International Affairs

    This course explores the relationship between the political and the technical, with a 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. This course approaches infrastructures not as neutral means toward more substantive ends but 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 are 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. We begin 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. Readings focus on theory that has influenced the “infrastructural turn” and draw on science and technology studies, anthropology, political theory, and geography.


    PHD PROSEMINAR II: PROJECT CONCEPTUALIZATION, GANT 7006
    Abou Farman, Associate Professor of Anthropology

    This doctoral seminar is designed to help you develop and formulate a dissertation project that grapples with some of the theoretical questions of ethnographic research while keeping the project grounded in empirical inquiry. We inquire deeply into the nature and purpose of the project you hold in mind and also into the mind that holds the project in it. We address three basic sets of questions: 1) What is the project about? What questions are you asking, and how do they address what your project is about? What histories, what theories, do you need to explore to make sense of the project? 2) Why does your project matter, and to whom? What is at stake both in the project and for you as the researcher and a person in the world? 3) How do you imagine the field—the intellectual field and the ethnographic field? Where is your project—at what site and scale and in what imagined space? Where is the beauty of your project? What objects and subjects, what events and incidents, will you be examining and grappling with? What senses, emotions, actions, will inform your engagement? The seminar sessions alternate between reading and making and writing exercises that develop your thoughts around these questions. The goal is to clarify your research problematic and the literature you need to engage the field. 


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