SOAN 291 - Special Topics in Anthropology
A discussion of a series of topics of anthropological concern. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Winter 2019, SOAN 291A-01: Anthropology of Disability (3). To what extent is disability culturally defined? How do understandings of being “dis-” or “differently” abled vary across time and space? In what ways is impairment “not simply lodged in the body, but created by the social and material conditions that ‘dis-able’ the full participation of those considered atypical” (Ginsburg and Rapp)? This course explores these issues through a trio of lenses: Virginia (c. 1830-1980), the contemporary United States, and case studies from diverse cultures around the world. Virginia offers powerful insight into cultural constructions of disability as it was an epicenter of the eugenics movement: the compulsory sterilization of at least 8,000 citizens whom authorities considered “defective” and “unfit” to reproduce because of their “criminality, pauperism, degeneracy, idiocy, insanity, and various forms of maladjustment.” How are perceptions of disability currently changing in the United States? Can deafness or autism be considered cultures? How do framings of disability articulate with race, gender, and sexuality? How do people around the world conceptualize relationships between different abilities, cultural norms, religion and spirituality? Bell.
Spring 2019, SOAN 291-01: Cults (3). An exploration of the phenomenon of cults (also known as new religious movements [NRMs]). We examine the development of cults, how they operate, and the experiences of those who participate in them. Topics of discussion include brainwashing, gender, violence, sexuality, child rearing, and the possibility of objectivity on the part of the researcher. We structure the term around a visit from Marsha Goluboff Low (Professor Goluboff’s aunt), who will talk about the 18 years she spent in Ánanda Márga. Goluboff.
Spring 2019, SOAN 291-02: Land in O’odham Culture Economics and History (4). A seminar on the cultural, economic, and historical dimensions of the O’odham Indians’ ties to their lands as expressed in their pre- and post-reservation lifeways. Students address three major themes: 1) O’odham land and cosmology; 2) land and economy in O’odham history; and 3) contemporary cultural and economic issues among O’odham peoples. The class spends 8 days in the Sonoran Desert region of Southern Arizona to visit sites and meet with speakers in and around the Tohono O’odham Nation. (SS4) Markowitz and Guse.
Fall 2018, SOAN 291A-01: Anthropology of Death (3). An overview of death practices from prehistory to the present. Death is, of course, universal - “it is appointed for all once to die” - but cultural understandings of death vary enormously. We consider such questions as whether Neanderthals intentionally buried their dead, why early farmers built houses over the deceased, and how monumental works like pyramids and mounds express relationships between the living and the dead. Discussion includes diverse beliefs about the afterlife, the nature of the soul, and proper dispositions of the body. We pay special attention to contemporary changing death ways in the United States with the rise in cremation, green burials, celebratory funerals, idiosyncratic gravestones, and online memorials. Bell.
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