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Haverford College
Haverford College Course Catalog

Social Sciences: Anthropology, 2010-11

DescriptionFacultyMajor RequirementsMinor RequirementsRequirements for HonorsCourses


At Haverford we teach social and cultural anthropology. Social and cultural anthropologists study human beings and human communities. We are interested in the family, social organization, modes of subsistence, exchange practices, politics and power, ritual and religion, gender, and all forms of expressive behavior. Once anthropologists primarily studied small-scale indigenous communities (so-called "primitive societies") and rural populations, but now anthropologists also study state societies, urban communities, and globalization. Our discipline has three central traits. First, we are comparative. This means that we compare social and cultural phenomena in one place to those in another, and that we explore the particular features of a specific people and place in relation to general theories about humans and human societies. This comparative method allows us to tease out what is unique and distinctive about the subject we are studying and what generally tends to be true about that sort of thing. Second, we are holistic. We try to get a sense of the context in which a particular incident or practice is occurring, as a way of developing a fuller understanding of that specific practice and of that place and those people and how things work there. Third, we engage in participant-observation fieldwork. Social and cultural anthropologists live in the communities they are studying for extended periods of time, in order to build a perspective that integrates an insider's and an outsider's points of view.

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Professor Maris Gillette, Chair
Stinnes Professor of Global Studies Laurie Kain HartM
Associate Professor Zolani Ngwane
Assistant Professor Jesse Weaver Shipley
Visiting Assistant Professor Banu Nilgun Uygun
Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Ruti TalmorM
John R. Coleman Professor of Social Sciences Wyatt MacGaffey, Emeritus

Affiliated Faculty at Bryn Mawr College:
Professor of Growth and Structure of Cities Gary McDonogh
Faculty of the Department of Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College

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Major Requirements

Students are required to take a total of 11 courses in the major, including six required courses within the department. Individual programs require the advisor’s approval.

  1. Anthropology 103a, Introduction to Anthropology. Students are strongly encouraged to take A103 in their first or second year. Please note that A103 is a prerequisite for many 200 and 300 level courses.
  2. Anthropology 303, History and Theory of Anthropology. This course must be taken in the Haverford Anthropology Department, and prior to the senior year.
  3. One course focused on an ethnographic area, such as Anthropology 241, Mediterranean; Anthropology 245, Africa; Anthropology 243, East Asia; or a similar course on another campus.
  4. One other 200-level course in the Haverford Anthropology department.
  5. One 300-level course the Haverford Anthropology department.
  6. Anthropology 450 and 451 Senior Thesis Seminars.

The remaining courses may be courses offered in the Haverford department, in an anthropology department on another campus, or in approved related fields. Courses outside the department must be approved by the student’s advisor. Typically students may include no more than one course from related fields such as physical anthropology or archaeology. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the use of e-mail, Blackboard, and the faculty server.

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Minor Requirements

The minor in anthropology consists of six courses, including: an Introduction to Anthropology (this requirement may be satisfied by an Introduction to Anthropology at either campus, or by other introductory courses); ANTH 303b, History and Theory of Anthropology; an ethnographic area course; and three other courses at the 200 or 300 level, including one course at the 300 level. As a general rule, a minimum of three courses must be taken in the Haverford department.

(Note: When required courses are not offered, equivalents will be designated.) Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the use of e-mail, Blackboard, and the faculty server.

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Requirements for Honors

Honors are decided at the discretion of the faculty in the department of Anthropology. They are based upon overall excellence in the major. "Excellence" is defined by three criteria: outstanding work in the senior thesis (final written work and oral presentation), strong cumulative performance in all anthropological coursework (typically a grade point average of 3.7 or higher), and a record of consistent intellectual commitment and participation in the department. High Honors will be awarded, upon occasion, for exceptional contributions in all areas.

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103 Introduction to Anthropology SO

An introduction to the basic ideas and methods of social anthropology. Examines major theoretical and ethnographic concerns of the discipline from its origins to the present, such as family and kinship, production and reproduction, history and evolution, symbolism and representation, with particular attention to such issues as race and racism, gender and sexuality, class, and ethnicity. Prerequisite: Not open to students who have completed Bryn Mawr Anthropology 102.

155 Themes in the Anthropology of Religion SO (Cross-listed in Religion and African and Africana Studies)


204 Anthropology of Gender SO (Cross-listed in Gender and Sexuality Studies)

The cultural construction of gender and sexuality, kinship, inheritance, and marriage; the performative dimensions of sexual identity; the cultural politics of motherhood; myths of matriarchy; ideologies of masculinity and femininity. Not open to students who have completed Anthropology 216b or Bryn Mawr Anthropology 106. Offered occasionally.

206 Anthropology of Art SO

This course looks at the social and cultural foundations of a category of things referred to as "art." We examine the properties of these things and of the people who make, trade, exhibit, and look at art, and ask why they (we) do that. This involves a) understanding, and making theory about, the general development of the concept and uses of "art" in European civilization, as well how and why objects from "exotic" (that is, colonized) societies (in particular Africa, Native America, and Australia) have been identified and collected as a particular kind of art ("primitive art") and b) exploring the "power of images" in diverse societies and social contexts. These questions allow us to challenge our received conceptions of what art is and does and to broaden our understanding of human creativity beyond conventional notions of art, taste, and value, and power. Prerequisite: One course in ANTH, ARTS, or consent of the instructor. Typically offered in alternate years.

207 Visual Anthropology SO

Examines the history and development of anthropology's relationship to the visual, focusing particularly on ethnographic film. Explores the relationship between ethnographic texts and visual ethnographic materials in socio-cultural anthropology. Visual ethnography investigated as a mode for representing culture and a site of cultural practice. Special attention paid to questions of collaboration and documentary for social change. Students produce ethnographic films in crews for final projects. Prerequisite: Anth 103 at Haverford or 102 at Bryn Mawr. Typically offered in alternate years.

208 Museum Anthropology SO

What kinds of uses, values, and meanings do people attribute to objects? Why do museums exist as special sites for housing objects? What do museums do to objects, how, and why? This course is a comparative and historical introduction to museums and objects, and an overview of the kinds of things anthropologists do in and around museums. Students conduct research on museums (museums as the object of research) and museum research (research as museum professionals). Offered occasionally.

209 Anthropology of Education: State of the Debate SO

Education and schooling in anthropological literature. We will compare the concepts of "socialization" in British Social Anthropology with "cultural transmission" in American Cultural Anthropology to look for the different ways in which the role of education in social reproduction and transformation has been framed over time. In addition to basic works by thinkers such as Durkheim, Malinowski, Mead, Benedict and Boas, we will read a selection of ethnographies of schooling from the United States, Africa and Japan. Prerequisite: One course in Anthropology or Education. Offered occasionally.

216 Women and Power in Comparative Perspective SO (Cross-listed in Gender and Sexuality Studies)

This course explores issues of power and its operation through examining women and women's experience. Course readings combine theoretical materials on power and women's empowerment with ethnographic studies that allow us to investigate theoretical questions in specific contexts. We consider the nature of power, the sources of social inequality, and the potential for powerful action on individual and collective levels. Offered occasionally.

220 Anthropology and Story SO

From anthropology's inception as a discipline, anthropologists have experimented with the relationship between ethnographic writing and storytelling. Even early anthropologists who were deeply committed to the idea of anthropology as a science, such as the founder of ethnography Bronislav Malinowski nevertheless tried to entertain, excite, and emotionally engage readers by using storytelling techniques for ethnographic monographs. Imagine yourself suddenly set down, surrounded by all your gear, alone on a tropical beach close to a native village, while the launch or dinghy which has brought you sails away out of sight. In this course we explore ways to combine ethnography with techniques from dramatic writing. Students read classic and contemporary works by anthropologists who combine ethnographic writing with techniques from dramatic writing, conduct individual ethnographic research projects, and experiment with story-telling techniques to present their findings. Prerequisite: Anthropology 103 or permission of the instructor.

225 Anthropology of Postcolonialism SO

An examination of cultural and social transformation in the former USSR, Central/Eastern Europe, China, and Cuba through readings in recent ethnography. How do socialist-era institutions and ideologies continue to influence people's contemporary efforts to create a new kind of society and market? In what sense can we speak of shared national histories and cultures as determinative of these processes - or is it culture itself that is changing? Prerequisite: Anthropology 102 or 103. Offered occasionally.

235 Social Practice of Media SO

This course will examine cross-culturally how the mass media--print and electronic, old and new--have become critical to the constitution of subjectivities, collectivities, and histories in the contemporary world and are the primary means for the circulation of symbolic forms across space and time. Attention is paid to how the production, reception, and circulation of media forms and technologies are integrated into social practice at the local, national, and transnational levels. Offered occasionally.

236 Language and Electronic Media SO

20th century politics and culture were intimately linked to the rapid development of radio, television, and film. These electronic media have creatively engaged with local cultural practices around the world in reshaping the nature of artistic expression; national, gendered, and racial difference; and political power. This course uses anthropological notions of language to examine cultures of electronic media around the globe. We will create a theoretical frame that will allow us to look at radio, video/film, television, the internet, and mobile phone technologies as forms of social mediation. Mass media will be considered in relation to the formation of new types of embodiment, value, production, and consumption. In particular, we will trace how actor-centered performance approaches to language, reference, and authority give insight into the making of contemporary, electronically-mediated ways of understanding the world. This class draws together the fields of philosophy of language, linguistic anthropology, media studies, and various approaches to performance studies. Prerequisite: This course requires at least one anthropology course and instructor's permission.

241 Anthropology of the Mediterranean: Seminar on Greece SO (Cross-listed in Comparative Literature and Latin American and Iberian Studies)

This course focuses on pluralism and cultural interaction in circum-Mediterranean societies. It includes such topics as: orientalism and the problematics and politics of ethnographic production in and on peripheral societies; the use and abuse of concepts of cultural continuity; ethno-religious interaction in rural and urban settings; imperial legacies and nation-state ideologies in 21st century cultural politics; local and transnational economic systems; migration patterns, conflicts, and contemporary social transformations. Typically offered in alternate years.

244 Anthropology of China SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies)

This course is a basic introduction to the anthropology of China. The scope of our inquiry is about one century: we begin with traditional China and end with the present. Our primary site is the Chinese mainland (rather than Taiwan, Hong Kong, or the Chinese diaspora). Our goals include learning specific information about China, Chinese society, and Chinese culture; examining a range of diverse anthropological approaches to the study of human beings; exploring the political dimensions of representation; and reflecting on the relationship between political systems, the economy, and social formations. Prerequisite: One course in ANTH or EAST. Typically offered in alternate years.

247 Anthropology and Literature: Ethnography of Black South African Writing 1888-2008 SO (Cross-listed in African and Africana Studies)

Through analysis of the development of writing in colonial and apartheid South Africa this course examines the "crisis of representation" of the past two decades in literature and anthropology. We will consider debates about the textual status of ethnographic monographs and the more general problems of writing and social power. Specifically, we will look at how such writing contributed to the construction and transformation of black subjectivity. Course material will include 19th and 20th century texts by black South Africans including life narratives, particularly collaborated autobiographies by women in the 1980s. Prerequisite: One course in literature or anthropology. Typically offered in alternate years.

249 Colonialism, Law, Human Rights in Africa SO (Cross-listed in Peace, Justice, & Human Rights and African and Africana Studies)

This course examines the colonial legacies of contemporary discourses of human rights and development as they are relevant in contemporary global politics. By taking an historical approach to the idea of rights we will make connections between sovereignty, the rule of law, and the rights of citizenship. We will use a critical eye to explore the conditions of possibility that allow states, development organizations, donor agencies, and individuals to unwittingly reproduce centuries old tropes of poverty, degradation, and helplessness of non-Western peoples. Using historical descriptions of the encounters between Europeans and Africans in West Africa and South Africa we will unpack assumptions about African societies. We will also explore liberalism and its connections to British colonialism. and its contemporary incarnations. Prerequisite: One course relating to Africa, African politics, African literature.

254 Diseased Bodies: AIDS, Culture and the Anthropology of the Body SO

A study of discourses of cultural and medical management and stigmatization of the diseased human body. We will look at how cultural perceptions of disease generate binaries of taboo/restoration, sin/redemption, dying/living, decay/heal. We will look at how responses to HIV/AIDS embody this ambivalence of the diseased body in ideologies of social subjectivity. The course will be informed by an approach to this problem that views the human body as society's investment in its cultural and material reproduction while also serving as an ideological frontier separating socialized subjectivity from potentially antisocial libidinal forces of the biological self. Within this framework we will pursue the question: in what specific ways does disease, HIV in particular, represent a breach of the boundary between the body as social order and the carnal forces of its disruption? With HIV as an organizing problematic, the course will be structured around themes including religious notions of the body, sin and redemption; Western philosophical opposition of the body to the faculty of reason; interventionist technologies of modern medicine and the secularization of illness; and African notions of the social body and disharmonies of disease. We will conclude with the course reflections on how my work on HIV prevention in South Africa has addressed these cultural issues in local communities. Prerequisite: At least one 100 level course in Social Sciences.

256 Political Anthropology SO

This course considers politics as what groups of people do to affect their social conditions, and examines how their ability to affect those conditions is organized and controlled. Through the reading of ethnography and anthropological theory, we will raise questions about how "leaderless" societies organize social action, about the interrelations of gender, bodies, and politics, and about the ways in which power is exercised and contested in different societies. We will discuss how modern states arose and what impact they have had on the peoples they incorporate and on options for political action in contemporary complex global political systems. Prerequisite: One other course in Anthropology or Peace Studies, or consent of the instructor. Offered occasionally.

257 Ethnic Conflict SO

The comparative study of ethnic identity and collective violence. Ideological systems of classification and differentiation, such as kinship, race, class, ethnicity and nationality. Case studies of contemporary struggles and conflicts, informed by classic and recent anthropological theory. Prerequisite: One other course in Anthropology or Peace Studies or permission of the instructor. Typically offered in alternate years.

258 Politics of Culture and Identity SO (Cross-listed in Peace and Conflict Studies-Bi Co Conc)

This course will examine how "culture" and "identity" have become increasingly important frameworks through which claims to resources, rights, and power are articulated. Drawing on a diverse set of case studies, we will ask how we can approach politics of culture and identity ethnographically, and what role anthropology might have to play in such struggles. Prerequisite: Anthropology 102 or 103. Offered occasionally.

259 Ethnography of Islam SO

Comparative ethnographies of Muslim societies. Islam as a field of anthropological inquiry and theorizing. Ethnographic representation and the construction of ethnographic authority. Islam in the western imagination. Prerequisite: One course in Anthropology or consent of the instructor. Offered occasionally.

261 Memory, History, Anthropology SO

The social aspects of memory. Collective representations and memorial genres. Institutional memory and the effects of institutions on individual memory. Memory in oral and literate societies. Memory as a political act and a tool of political legitimacy. Mourning and trauma. Role of narrative in memory and the relationship between non-narrative forms and memory. How memory relates to the present and to the past. The course will examine a number of influential theoretical texts on memory and look at selected case studies. Prerequisite: One course in anthropology or consent. Offered occasionally.

263 Anthropology of Space: Housing and Society SO

Space, place and architecture in anthropological theory; the contributions of anthropology to our understanding of the built and imagined environment in diverse cultures. Topics include: the body and its orientation in space; the house, kinship and cosmology; architecture as a communicative/semiotic system; space and sociopolitical segregation and integration; space and commodity culture. May be taken for Bryn Mawr Cities credit. Prerequisite: One course in ANTH or CITY. Offered occasionally.

270 Psychoanalysis and Anthropology SO

This course will trace areas of convergence of anthropology and psychoanalysis from the beginnings of the discipline of anthropology to the present through selected topics, including: kinship, society and the self; sexual difference; the interpretation of dreams; anthropological hermeneutics; ethnographic fieldwork and clinical practice (listening, transference, countertransference); magic and fetishism, individual and collective violence. Prerequisite: Anthropology 102 or 103. Offered occasionally.

303 History and Theory of Anthropology SO

The development of anthropological thought in the West. Enlightenment theories of society and the human subject, the study of social organization in 19th and early 20th centuries (including Marx and Durkheim), social anthropology and cultural anthropology. Structuralism, Marxist anthropology, postmodernism and the crisis of representation in the 1980s and 1990s. Prerequisite: One course in ANTH, excluding BMC ANTH 303. Typically offered every Spring.

315 Human Rights, Gender and Knowledge: The Truth And Reconciliation Commission in South Africa SO

Reflection on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the perspective of rural women's testimonies. Reports and scholarly reflections on the TRC often reflect the perspectives of elite groups. Based on first hand research funded by the CPGC, the course will have students read testimonies based on collected submissions by women from poor rural communities who lost members of their families during the struggle against Apartheid. We will try to understand the role of gender in testimonies to the TRC and how knowledge was distributed unequally between men and women. We will situate women's testimonies within the larger context of human rights discourses. We will read critical theories of human rights and Truth Commissions. We will also discuss taped interviews I carried out in 2008/9 with the same women, family members and other members of the community. These testimonies and recorded interviews will form primary readings for the course. Prerequisite: At least one 200 level class in Anthropology and with consent of the instructor.

322 Ethnographic Methods SO

Qualitative research methods, with a focus on participant-observation. Theoretical debates, ethical questions, and practical issues concerning the craft of ethnographic field work will both be addressed. Students will conduct several small-scale field exercises and design and implement a larger ethnographic project. Prerequisite: ANTH 102 or 103. Preference to ANTH majors/minors and PEAC concentrators. Typically offered in alternate years.

327 Ritual, Performance and Symbolic Practice SO (Cross-listed in African and Africana Studies)

This course examines theories of performance and practice as a way for understanding how specific events and actions relate to social structure, history, and memory. We will explore how bodies become produced and contested in the performance of political and personal productive and sensuous activity. The course's central thematic explores the tension between theories of performance and theories of practice which highlight key philosophical issues within anthropology and social thought more generally: power and its enactment, the relationship between personal experience and macro-sociological processes, the nature of consciousness, structure versus agency, and stasis versus change. Prerequisite: One course in Anthropology or consent.

350 Social and Cultural Theory: Writing: Alienation, Usurpation, and Self-Production SO

Buying African fair trade coffee beans at the corner cafe; reading about Madonna's adoption of two Malawian children in the popular press; watching video recordings of Barack Obama's public HIV test in rural Kenya: each of these phenomena reflects our material & emotional entanglement with people and places previously disconnected & distant from us. How does a pervasive sense of global conductivity & intimacy change the ways in which we imagine ourselves, the public good, and others? In this course we will read recent ethnographies alongside social & critical theory (Foucault, Bourdieu, de Certeau, Deleuze, et al.) to consider how ethnographic methods can illuminate the diverse cultures & subjectivities presupposed and produced by international development & research, and address contemporary problems of global community. Course work will include a research term paper. Prerequisite: Two courses in Anthropology or consent. Hist & Theory of Anth recommended.

355 Anthropology and the New Faces of Modernity SO

An examination of recent trends in reflection on modernity in the human and social sciences. This course addresses questions about social subjectivity, globalization and the endurance of modernity through a number of ethnographic snapshots from different parts of the world. Prerequisite: One 200 level course in Anthropology or consent. Typically offered in alternate years.

358 Anthropology of Capitalism SO

This course explores capitalism from an anthropological perspective. We combine study of theoretical work on capitalist processes and the nature of capitalism with ethnographic studies of how capitalism operates in particular places at particular times. Our work includes examining and producing materials in multiple media, including written texts, film, and oral presentations. Students will conduct ethnographic studies of capitalisms over the course of the semester, and will work together in crews to make films about capitalisms. Each crew will produce at least two short films. Prerequisite: Anthropology 207 or 303 or consent. Typically offered in alternate years.

361 Advanced Topics in Ethnographic Area Studies SO

Advanced work in the study of an ethnographic area offered in the department. In addition to ethnographic monographs, course materials will include missionary records, memoirs, and realist fiction where appropriate. The course is intended to develop skills of social and cultural analysis and to deepen the students' understanding of an ethnographic area. Prerequisite: One course in an appropriate ethnographic area or consent. Offered occasionally.

365 Advanced Readings in Visual Anthropology SO

This is an advanced course in visual anthropology which explores the history and development of anthropology's relationship to visual practices both as a mode for representing culture and as a site of cultural practice. One of the central themes of the course is the relationship between representation, power, and knowledge as manifest in cross-cultural representation. This course touches on more recent work within visual anthropology that moves away from ethnographic film to focus on questions of cultural aesthetics, styles, and visual culture more broadly. Prerequisite: Anthropology 207 or consent. Offered occasionally.

415 Research Seminar in the Material Culture of China: Producers and Collectors of Chinese Ceramics SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)

This course focuses on the production and collecting practices of Chinese porcelain. It provides a basic introduction to research on material culture, Chinese high-fired ceramics, and the practices of collectors and porcelain producers. Students who complete this class will gain a good basic understanding of the technical and social aspects of Chinese ceramic production, forms and decoration of Chinese ceramics, the porcelain center of Jingdezhen, and the political and cultural aspects of Chinese porcelain consumption. In addition to engaging with course materials, each student will design and complete a major independent research project related to ceramics or an aspect of Chinese material culture. Prerequisite: One course in Anthropology, East Asian Studies, or permission. Offered occasionally.

450 Senior Seminar: Research and Writing SO

Students research and complete a thesis in socio-cultural anthropology over the course of two semesters. The seminar includes course meetings and individual consultations. Prerequisite: Senior standing in ANTH at Haverford. Typically offered every Fall.

451 Senior Seminar: Supervised Research and Writing SO

M.Gillette, J.Shipley, Z.Ngwane, L.Hart
Supervised Research and Writing, is the second in the two-course sequence for seniors in Anthropology. Students will complete a thesis using primary sources and/or fieldwork and will participate in a thesis writing workshop. Prerequisite: Sr standing in ANTH at HC. Typically offered every Spring.

460 Teaching Assistant SO

Discussion leader and course assistant in Anthropology 103, Anthropology 110, or other selected anthropology courses; includes responsibility for selected tutorials. Final Paper. Typically offered every Semester.

480 Independent Study SO

Offered occasionally.

Course Offered at Bryn Mawr College

    • 101-102 Introduction to Anthropology
    • 203 Human Ecology
    • 204 North American Archaeology
    • 209 Human Evolution
    • 210 Medical Anthropology
    • 232 Nutritional Anthropology
    • 243 Cultures of Technology: Aesthetics, Senses and the Body
    • 253 Childhood in the African Experience
    • 261 Palestine and Israeli Society
    • 281 Language in Social Context
    • 286 Social Construction of Irish Identity
    • 303 History of Anthropological Theory
    • 312 Anthropology of Reproduction
    • 342 Middle Eastern Diasporas
    • 354 Identity, Ritual and Cultural Practices in Contemporary Vietnam
    • 185 Urban Culture and Society
    • 190 Form of the City
    • 209 Medical Anthropology
    • 335 Mass Media and the City
    • 360 Topics in Urban Culture and Society
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