Results for: 2023-24 Winter
When Cultures Collide: The Multicultural Challenge
Coming to terms with diversity in an increasingly multicultural world has become one of the most pressing public policy projects for liberal democracies in the early 21st century. One way to come to terms with diversity is to try to understand the scope and limits of toleration for variety at different national sites where immigration from foreign lands has complicated the cultural landscape. This seminar examines a series of legal and moral questions about the proper response to norm conflict between mainstream populations and cultural minority groups (including old and new immigrants), with special reference to court cases that have arisen in the recent history of the United States.
Law and Citizenship in Latin America
This course will examine law and citizenship in Latin America from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. We will explore the development of Latin American legal systems in both theory and practice, examine the ways in which the operation of these systems has shaped the nature of citizenship in the region, discuss the relationship between legal and other inequalities, and analyze some of the ways in which legal documents and practices have been studied by scholars in order to gain insight into questions of culture, nationalism, family, violence, gender, and race.
More Than Human Ethnography
In this course we explore the growing fields of more-than-human and 'multispecies' ethnography. We will examine theoretical antecedents promoting the inclusion of non-human social actors in ethnographic analysis and read many examples of such work, including foundational texts on interspecies engagements, exploitations, and dependencies by Deborah Bird Rose, Kim Tallbear, Eduardo Kohn, Anna Tsing, and Augustin Fuéntes among many others. We will consider the role other species and 'actants' played in early social science work and contemplate recent studies of "becoming with" other animals, plants, fungi, bacteria-encountering complex ecological kin relationships, examining naturalcultural borders, and querying decolonial legacies and the role of ecofeminist thought and queer ecologies in the 'more-than' turn. Multispecies and posthumanist approaches encourage a decentering of traditional methodologies; we will thus couple ethnographic examples with literature by geographers, biologists, and philosophers. The course is a discussion-based seminar, with significant time devoted to understanding the logistical or methodological aspects of 'more than' work-to querying how such studies have been conducted in practice. The final paper in the course will take the form of an exploratory essay (ethnographic, historical, or theoretical) based on data and observations collected during previous weeks.
Introduction to Science Studies
This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of science, medicine, and technology. During the twentieth century, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and anthropologists raised original, interesting, and consequential questions about the sciences. Often their work drew on and responded to each other, and, taken together, their various approaches came to constitute a field, "science studies." The course furnishes an initial guide to this field. Students will not only encounter some of its principal concepts, approaches and findings, but will also get a chance to apply science-studies perspectives themselves by performing a fieldwork project. Among the topics we may examine are: the sociology of scientific knowledge and its applications; actor-network theories of science; constructivism and the history of science; and efforts to apply science studies approaches beyond the sciences themselves.
Black Social Thought
This course will familiarize students with social science academic and lay intellectual theorists who speak to and about the political, economic, and gender ways of being within the African Diaspora. Most of the course will highlight the voices of Western scholars, pan-African international scholars and thought will be discussed as well.
Conspiracy Theories and the Social Sciences
This course combines readings from the empirical social scientific literature on conspiracy theories with readings dealing with philosophical and conceptual questions of interest to social scientists seeking to understand those who believe them. What kinds of claims count as conspiracy theories? Are conspiracy theories, as a category, epistemically deficient or problematic in some other way? How should social scientists deal with the fact that some conspiracy theories seem true or plausible, while others seem patently ridiculous? We will also give conspiracy theorists a chance to "talk back," reading diverse texts authored by conspiracy theorists themselves, ranging from the satirical to the deadly serious. How can we take conspiracy theorists seriously without overstating the coherence of many of their arguments? And, how can we best respond to the effects of genuinely harmful or prejudicial conspiracy theories in a way that does not uncritically affirm the authority of expertise or close off the possibility of external critique? It is recommended, but not required, that students enrolling in this class have taken one or more courses in the Social Sciences Core.
Bodies, Objects, Cognition
This course explores the differences between objects and embodiment as examined in varied historical periods and artistic genres. We will probe the ontological indeterminacy of embodied beings versus machines in terms of agency, autonomy, subjectivity, and artificiality. Our main operative mode is a visual-verbal comparison and its perception. Through discussions of such visual strategies as pareidolia, abstraction, bodyscape, as well as the scientific phenomena of cloning and humanoid robotics, the course will destabilize once fundamental epistemologies to present a cognitive moment when the traditionally stable object-body dichotomy is understood anew as a dynamic site of affective, biological, representational, and mechanical relations. Visual artists, writers and critics studied will include Leonardo da Vinci, Hans Holbein, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Tadeusz Borowski, Stanislaw Lem, Allan Teger, Magdalena Abakanowicz, W.T.J. Mitchell and others. All readings are in English.
Tolerance and Intolerance in South Asia
Few places in the world are as embroiled in the problem of diversity as South Asia, where sectarian violence-fought mainly along religious lines, but also along caste, gender, and linguistic lines-is at the center of political maneuvering. South Asia offers important lessons in how people manage to live together despite histories of mutual strife and conflict about communities and castes. Focusing on the period of British colonial rule, this class explores different instances and ideologies of toleration and conflict. How were South Asian discourses of toleration by such leaders as Gandhi and Nehru different from their European counterparts (e.g., John Locke and John Rawls)? How did their ideologies differ from those articulated by their minority peers such as Ambedkar, Azad, and Madani? We will analyze constitutive precepts, namely secularism, syncretism, toleration. Our attention here will be on the universal connotations of these ideas and their South Asian expression. Fifth week onward, we will turn our attention to select thinkers: Gandhi, Ambedkar, Azad, Madani. Our focus here will be on the ways that each intellectual negotiated the thorny issues of toleration, difference, ethnicity, and belonging. All the thinkers covered in this class had an active presence in nationalist era politics. Finally, we will read historical accounts of some of the most frequent causes of intolerance, namely cow slaughter, music played before the mosque, and desecration of sacred objects.
Are We Doomed? Confronting the End of the World
We may be at a pivotal point in human history, with civilization facing unprecedented threats including nuclear Armageddon, climate change, and pandemics. This class will explore our potential for self-inflicted catastrophe, as well as approaches for mitigating these perils. We will consider this through readings and engagement with a range of speakers focused on various imminent perils, from the perspective of a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, including sociology, philosophy, theology, anthropology, statistics, physics, astrophysics, economics, law, business, and the arts.
Making Sense of Lived Experience: In-Depth Interviewing
How do people make sense of everyday experiences of daily life, injustice, crisis,
happiness, success, and suffering? How do researchers understand and connect lived experiences to sociohistorical context? In this undergraduate seminar, students develop qualitative research skills critical to understanding the social world. Social science researchers employ a wide range of research methodologies to learn about the social world, including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Qualitative approaches often explore the questions that deepen our understanding of people, institutions, and social processes, attending to questions of meaning and practice. In particular, in-depth interviewing allows for the possibility of learning deeply about people's motivations,
actions, attitudes, feelings, and how they make sense of our lived experiences more generally. This course teaches students how to develop qualitative, humanistic interview-based research studies. Students will learn how to craft inductive research questions, identify and recruit participants, prepare a comprehensive set of interview questions, conduct interviews (and address issues that can arise while interviewing), analyze interview data, consider limitations, and present one's findings. The course culminates in a written interview analysis and presentation using data that gathered for this class. Students will collect primary data, by conducting at least 4-5 interviews for a class project.