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School of Natural and Social Sciences

The Anthropology BA Program | Academic Requirements | Student Learning Outcomes | Minor in Anthropology | Courses | Faculty

The Anthropology Program: Courses

1000–1999 (lower level, freshman)
2000–2999 (lower level, sophomore)
3000–3999 (upper level, junior)
4000–4999 (upper level, senior)


Nigerian/Hausa Language and Culture
ANT 1010
/ 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
Hausa is one of the most important African languages, spoken by more than 50 million people in Nigeria and numerous other countries. This course offers intensive first-year instruction in the Hausa language while introducing students to the customs, beliefs, and concerns of Nigerian Hausa speakers as expressed through various media.

Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology
ANT 1500
/ 3 credits / Fall
The major fields of interest and contributions of social and cultural anthropologists. Accounts of life in different societies are read to illustrate how institutions vary in different cultural settings and to explore what it means to be a member of a culture different from one’s own.


Language, Culture, and Society
ANT 2175
/ 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Explores the different roles that language plays in the lives of people, communities, and nations. Topics include language and thought, language and power, poetics and verbal art, bilingualism, African-American English (“Ebonics”), pidgin and creole languages, Native American language revitalization, “politically correct”; language, and the rise of English as a global language.

Sociology of Gender
SOC 2210
Refer to Sociology Courses for description.

Film and Anthropology
ANT 2250
/ 3 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
How useful a tool is film for the study of peoples who come from cultures entirely different from one’s own? Appropriate readings accompany the visual material, in addition to ethnographic accounts of the societies viewed in class and discussions of the problems encountered in filming non-Western peoples.

Performing Arts in Cross-Cultural Perspective
ANT 2320
/ 3 credits / Alternate years
An introductory survey of music, theatre, and dance in Western and non-Western cultures, including the relationships between music and religion, dance and weddings, theatre and curing. The course also explores the performing arts as aesthetic phenomena in their own right. Live performances by non-Western performers and optional field trips are planned.

First Peoples to European Contact: New World Archaeology
HIS 2320
Refer to History Courses (School of Humanities) for description.

Drugs, Bodies, Design
ANT 2340
/ 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Using texts and films, students analyze how street drugs and legitimated pharmaceuticals become entangled with the economic and aesthetic practices of marginal and mainstream social worlds. Topics include rural Midwestern methamphetamine production as a cottage industry; the ways that steroids and methamphetamine refashion the HIV+ body and identity; and the designs of “performance enhancers” like Adderall that make machines out of bodies.

Anthropology of South Asia
ANT 2400
/ 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Using ethnographic case studies, this course introduces students to a broad range of anthropological research on South Asia. Topics include colonial forms of knowledge and early descriptive accounts of the region; the caste system; constructions of transgender, feminine, and masculine identities and communities; postcolonial and diasporic identities and communities; and globalization and ethnoreligious conflict in India and Pakistan.

Anthropology for the Public: Social Justice and Advocacy
ANT 2460
/ 3 credits / Spring
Anthropological research, theory, and practice have a great deal to contribute to the central issues of our time. Students explore the relationship between anthropology as an academic field of study that builds on rigorous grounded research and broader, global questions of social justice and transformative action. This course also examines how the discipline’s holistic approach and global reach can be used to engage public debate, shape social policy, and advocate for social change.

Museum Anthropology
ANT 2470
/ 3 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
An introduction to the poetics of representation, display, and performance in museums. Students critically analyze museums as spaces of encounter and culture contact; consider the political economy of museums and their links to the education, tourism, and entertainment industries; and participate in and report on curatorial projects at the Neuberger Museum of Art.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500 or MSA 1050

Urban Sociology
SOC 2500
Refer to Sociology Courses for description.

Magic, Witchcraft, and Modernity
ANT 2555
/ 3 credits / Alternate years
Investigates magic and witchcraft in the shadow of technology, industrialization, and capitalism. Readings range from athletes who employ superstition to cope with uncertainty, to more challenging case studies on witchcraft, spirit possession, shamanism, and other forms of magic as healing. Alongside classical anthropological texts, concepts such as fetishism, fantasy, and enchantment are explored in contemporary contexts, including film, art, and literature.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500

Introduction to Ethnomusicology
ANT 2610
/ 3 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
A survey of theoretical orientations and methodologies for the study of musical production, performance, and consumption in particular cultural contexts and within global flows of materials, ideas, cultural forms, and people. Focuses on music as a communication medium and collective poetic process. Students attend and critically engage musical performances and/or engage directly in musical production and performances.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500 or MSA 1050

New Black Ethnographies
ANT 2730
/ 3 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
Begins with historical examples of ethnographic work on black diasporic cultures and then moves to contemporary anthropological work on black life from around the world. Underscores the history of anthropology in understanding race and racial politics and also draws on an array of topical issues, from mass incarceration to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Global Sexualities
ANT 2755
/ 3 credits / Alternate years
Explores and compares the diverse ways in which sexuality and gender are practiced, experienced, and regulated in different communities around the world. Particular attention is paid to how sexual identities and practices have influenced, and been influenced by, global political, economic, and cultural movements, including colonialism, capitalism, feminism, queer activism, and the spread of world religions.

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Myth and Ritual
ANT 3070
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
The social anthropology of myths and rituals in both simple and complex societies. Some attention is given to the approaches of Durkheim, Lévi-Strauss, Edmund Leach, Victor Turner, and Clifford Geertz, who have made contributions within the theoretical schools of structuralism and symbolic anthropology.
Prerequisite: ANT 1500

Classics in Anthropological Literature
ANT 3150
/ 4 credits / Spring
Theoretical concepts and their use in analyzing empirical data. Students read and critically analyze the work of some of the major thinkers in anthropology, including Benedict, Mead, Malinowski, Radcliffe-Brown, Geertz, Turner, and Lévi-Strauss. Limited to students majoring in anthropology.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500 and (a) in one of the following courses—ANT 1010, 2175, 2235, 2250, 2320, 2330, 2340, 2400, 2410, 2470, 2555, 2610, 2755; and (b) in one of the following courses—ANT 3070, 3175, 3185, 3190, 3215, 3255, 3275, 3345, 3350, 3380, 3390, 3410, 3415, 3540, 3600, 3610; ENV 3800; JST 3455, 3456, 3457

Global Media, Local Cultures
ANT 3185
/ 4 credits / Spring
Explores how media technologies and genres are produced, used, and interpreted in different cultural contexts around the world. Emphasis is placed on the effect of different media on people’s social identities and communities, including families, nations, and religions. Anthropological theories of media and performance are applied to ethnographic research projects in and around the Purchase College community.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500 or MSA 1050, or permission of instructor

Urban Anthropology
ANT 3190
/ 4 credits / Fall
The experiences and problems of city dwellers in the Third World and migrants from Third World countries to Western cities, including New York. Topics include urbanization and family life, adaptation of migrants, ethnicity and class, the culture of poverty, and methods of urban anthropologists.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500 or 2055

Anthropology of Religion
ANT 3215
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Examines both foundational and newer critical approaches to understanding religion from an anthropological perspective. Texts cover a diversity of topics from a variety of cultures, including the construction of religion as an analytical category; religion’s relation to secularism, law, and political ideology; religion and gender; and embodied religious experience. Not intended as a general survey of religious traditions.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500, and permission of instructor

Urban Life in Africa
ANT 3255
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Africa is home to some of the oldest and fastest-growing cities in the world. Rapid urbanization brings challenges, opportunities, and expectations. Topics include colonial and postcolonial urban planning; corruption and informal economies; violence and security; ethnicity, nationalism, and pan-Africanism; modernism and traditionalism; youth styles and subcultures; charismatic Christianity and Islamic reformism.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500

Media and Performance in Africa
ANT 3345
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Explores how African performing artists and audiences have responded to the cultural, political, and economic circumstances of the times and places in which they live. Performance media include music, song, dance, film/video, and the spoken word, with a special focus on western and southern Africa. Students draw on anthropological theories to produce, perform, and critique their own versions of African performance texts.
Prerequisite: ANT 1500 or MSA 1050, or permission of instructor

Myth, Ritual, and Performance
ANT 3350
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
How have myth, ritual, and performance functioned as ways to comprehend, organize, and even generate the world around us? What are the values and constraints of symbolic structures as they shape and influence bodies and environments? Students consider both structural and poststructural approaches to performance as a medium for exploring, but also transgressing, structures of everyday life.
Prerequisite: ANT 1500, MSA 1050, or THP 2020

Avant-Garde Cultures and Everyday Life
ANT 3380
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Examines the avant-garde from historical and cultural perspectives, as both a lens and object of social critique. How the avant-garde engages with everyday life through various forms of artistic and technological mediation is also explored. Covers such topics as shock and aesthetics, collage, manifestos, found objects, and commodification, and examines various types of experimental music and performance.
Prerequisite: ANT 1500 or MSA 1050, and permission of instructor

Critical Perspectives on Language and Culture
ANT 3390
/ 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Students perform close readings and engage in in-depth discussions of theoretical texts, illustrative ethnographic works, and audio/video recordings on the relationships between language and culture. Questions explored include: What assumptions about culture are implicit in any given method of analyzing language practices? What lies beyond the reach of language? Topics covered include affect, gesture, semiotics, and symbolic violence.
Prerequisite: ANT 1500

Anthropology of Art and Aesthetics
ANT 3410
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An exploration of the arts of a variety of cultures, both Western and non-Western. Topics include the relationship of art to other social institutions; the role of the artist in society; the ways that people make aesthetic judgments; and the evolutionary significance of art.

Anthropology of Sound and Listening
ANT 3415
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An anthropological and ethnomusicological approach to sound, listening, and modernity, with emphasis on recent scholarship concerning aural/audio cultures. Topics include avant-garde sound poetry, noise and war, soundscapes and urban noise, silence and deafness, listening practices and mobility in urban space, background music (Muzak), and sound art and installations.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500 or MSA 1050; a minimum grade of C in one additional anthropology course or in MSA 4100 or 4160; and permission of instructor

Archaeological Issues in the Southern Levant
HIS 3455
Refer to History Courses (School of Humanities) for description.

Methods and Techniques in Field Archaeology
HIS 3456
Refer to History Courses (School of Humanities) for description.

Sensing and Knowing in Anthropology, Psychology, and the Arts
ANT 3540
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
What theories of embodiment, mind, and matter must be adopted to adequately grasp experiences of time, space, color, emotion, and attention? How can people conceptualize forms of experience without purging them of poetic resonance? Students explore this interdisciplinary field in connection with the arts. Includes readings in cognitive science, anthropology, and poetry, plus collaborative art projects, sensory experiments, and excursions.
Prerequisite: ANT 1500 and PSY 1530

Fieldwork: Qualitative Methods
ANT 3560
/ 4 credits / Fall
The methodological, political, and ethical issues of participant observation. Students read and discuss classical examples of participant-observation research. Each student conducts a participant-observation field research study and presents a preliminary version of the results to the seminar before submitting the written report. Limited to anthropology majors.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C in ANT 1500, and permission of instructor

Archaeology of Empires: The Ancient World
HIS 3585
Refer to History Courses (School of Humanities) for description.

Japan: Aesthetics, Politics, Modernity
ANT 3600
/ 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
Drawing on scholarly texts, novels, films, and music, this course critically examines the aesthetics and politics of modernity in Japan. Topics include fascism and aesthetics in interwar Japan; folk art and Japanese imperialism; criminality and the everyday in postwar Japan; public spectacles (Tokyo Olympics, Osaka Expo); postwar avant-garde movements; consumer culture and department stores.
Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C+ in ANT 1500 and one anthropology elective (2000 or 3000 level)

Human Ecology
ENV 3800
Refer to Environmental Studies Courses for description.

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Current Anthropological Literature
ANT 4070
/ 4 credits / Fall
Students focus on recent theoretical texts in cultural anthropology and are expected to present short oral reports on these texts and to lead class discussion. Limited to anthropology majors in their senior year.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Alternative Economies
MSA 4100
Refer to Media, Society, and the Arts Courses (School of Film and Media Studies) for description.

Lively Geographies
MSA 4110
Refer to Media, Society, and the Arts Courses (School of Film and Media Studies) for description.

Material Cultures
MSA 4160
Refer to Media, Society, and the Arts Courses (School of Film and Media Studies) for description.

Special Topic: Geographic Area
ANT 4860
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Special anthropological topics by geographic area.

Senior Project I and II
SPJ 4990
and 4991 / 4 credits (per semester) / Every year
Students are required to submit a senior project in order to complete the major in anthropology. Students work with individual faculty members to develop a project design that focuses on some substantive problem in anthropology. The project may be based on fieldwork or library research. Must be taken for two semesters (8 credits total).

Updated Mar. 29, 2016

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