The immersion in Native American and indigenous studies enhances students’ knowledge of the unique heritage of Native Americans and indigenous peoples and their relationships with people from other communities and nations. This enhanced understanding is grounded in the study of the histories, collective memories, cultures, and languages of Native American and indigenous peoples, and the representations, stereotypes, and pertinent laws and policies governing their lives. Immersion courses emphasize indigenous ways of knowing and learning in the past and present in the Americas and across the globe.
Notes about this immersion:
This immersion is closed to students majoring in sociology and anthropology who have chosen the cultural anthropology track and to students majoring in international and global studies who have chosen the indigenous studies track.
Students are required to complete at least one course at the 300-level or above as part of the immersion.
Choose three of the following:
Culture and Globalization
By exploring critical issues of globalizing culture, we examine how ideas, attitudes, and values are exchanged or transmitted across conventional borders. How has the production, articulation, and dissemination of cultural forms (images, languages, practices, beliefs) been shaped by global capitalism, media industries, communication technologies, migration, and tourist travels? How are cultural imaginaries forged, exchanged, and circulated among a global consumer public? How has the internationalizing of news, computer technologies, video-sharing websites, blogging sites, and other permutations of instant messaging served to accelerate cultural globalization? Students will be introduced to anthropological perspectives on cultural globalization, the transmission of culture globally, and the subsequent effects on social worlds, peoples, communities, and nations.
Field Methods in Archaeology
This course introduces students to the methods of archaeological fieldwork. The course begins with the student’s development of a research question and design. We then explore the feasibility of this research through the examination of sampling techniques, site survey, and excavation. Field methods of recording, photography, and artifact conservation will also be discussed. Students will be able to analyze the usefulness of the field techniques in light of the archaeological scientific methods for dating, and organic and inorganic analyses. Students should emerge from the course understanding the values of the techniques necessary for proper archaeological excavation towards the reconstruction of the past and the development of an understanding of our present.
Ritual and Performance
The world’s cultural diversity is most vividly and dynamically displayed through ritual and festival. Ritual is anything but superfluous; rather, some of the most important work of culture is accomplished through the performance of ritual. Through cross-cultural comparison, by way of readings and films, we explore the following dimensions of ritual: symbols, embodiment, emotion, discipline, contestation of tradition and authenticity, and the orchestration of birth, childhood socialization, gender, maturation, marriage, community, hierarchy, world renewal, and death. Written expression is enhanced through drafting, revision, and peer review.
Native North Americans
This course examines the persistence and change in Native American cultures using archaeological, ethnohistorical, socioeconomic, ethnographic, linguistic, and autobiographical sources among others. In addition to broad regional and historical coverage, we will read about and discuss culture change, colonialism, federal law, gender, race, and places in Native American contexts. Our goal is to understand the lived experiences of Indian people and the many forces that shape Native American lives.
Native Americans in Film
This course will examine the parallels of anthropological works and resulting government policies in the late-19th and 20th centuries as they relate to the genre of Native Americans film, both popular and ethnographic works. In addition, an extensive regional and historical literature review will complement the possible films.
American Indian Languages
With a focus on the indigenous languages of the Americas, we explore language contact among peoples, study various writing systems, and the sociolinguistic and cultural contexts in which these languages are spoken. Students learn how indigenous languages have been studied and classified. In addition to providing an overview of the languages' structural and typological attributes, we will also discover their histories as well as present-day challenges.
Comparative and Historical Linguistics
All languages change through time, but how do they change? Where do these changes come from? In exploring traditional and contemporary approaches to historical linguistics, the study of language change, we compare different languages, different dialects of the same language, or different historical stages of a particular language, and investigate the history of languages and also language groups (or families). We investigate hypotheses about the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of languages long dead, and we explore how languages can give us insights to understanding human prehistory.
People Before Cities
More than half the global population today lives in densely populated urban areas, which are further surrounded by complex networks of smaller communities. Yet, the earliest cities appeared less than 6,000 years ago, a small fraction of time since our species’ first appearance. The characteristics that define us as human were forged in radically different social universes from those of today. We lived our lives among not much more than 20-30 other people at any one time, hunting and gathering our food, and occasionally moving from place to place. This lifestyle was so successful and adaptable it endured pressures from more complex societies well into the 20th century. Understanding what life was like in such these small-scale societies is important because the material and social world in which they lived is the foundation for societies where food production, social hierarchy, and occupational specialization are the norm. This course will examine both the ethnographic and archaeological record of hunter/foragers from around the globe in an attempt to understand how it proved to be such a versatile and resilient way of life and how its successes, in fact, laid the foundation for social inequality, complexity, and food production.
Culture and Politics in Latin America
This course introduces cultures of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped them. We examine Spanish and Portuguese colonialism and its modern-day legacies, including ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, and literature have engaged critically with the forces of fascism, revolution, socialism, dictatorship, and neo-colonialism. We consider indigenous activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion and revolution, impacts of and creative responses to globalization, and Latinos in the U.S.
Genocide and Post-Conflict Justice
The destruction and survival of societies often hinges upon the ideas and the social, cultural constructions of identity and belonging. When ideas fail to incorporate people, essentialist categories of identity, historical memory, and accounts of extreme violence become interrelated, potent sources of destruction. Slavery and exclusive ownership of resources leave people starving or living in perilously polluted environments. Globalizing cultural economies threaten local systems and self-representation. Group identities may be sites of crises within nation-states and global political, economic, and cultural processes. In this course, we will take critical, anthropological approaches to studies of ethnocide, genocide, and post-conflict justice. Students will use critical, anthropological approaches to assess ethnocides and genocides from the 19th century forced assimilation and slaughter of Native Americans and Amazonian Indians to more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Sudan, to understand the impact of globalization on techniques and technologies of genocides, the legal, moral/personal responsibility for genocides, media representations of genocides, and the affects of cultural, historical memory and social, global inequities upon future genocides. Students will use anthropological perspectives on genocide to assess post-conflict concepts of justice, reconstruction and reconciliation and local-global debates about their cultural resonance and effectiveness.
Humans and their Environment
Humans and their societies have always been shaped by their environment, but as human societies became more complex, their relationship with their environment changed from one of simple adaptation to one in which they had the power to change their environment. Often, the changes they have wrought have had unintended consequences, forcing societies to adapt to the changes that they themselves have brought about. Although we tend to think that this is a relatively recent phenomenon, humans have been altering their environment since the first human societies made the transition to agriculture over ten thousand years ago, if not longer. In this class, we will use the tools of environmental archaeology to explore the history of human interactions with their environments and to draw lessons on how we could manage that interaction today.
Native American Cultural Resources & Rights
Indian nations have substantial interests in access to and control of their cultural resources. In addition to land, those resources may include objects, traditions, and symbols. Many of those interests may be treated under tribal, federal, and/or international law as forms of property (including access to sacred sites, possession of funerary objects, masks), intangible resources (such as intellectual property of tribal names, symbols, stories), and/or liberty interests (including religious freedom, preservation of tribal languages, customs, Indian arts and crafts). Classroom lectures will be supplemented with roundtable discussions and instructions by museum professionals, guest speakers, and Native American representatives. At the conclusion of the course, students will comprehend the breadth of federal legislation regulating tribal cultural resources as well as the complex legal and social issues facing museums, academic institutions, and the community.
Archaeology is one of the few social sciences that lends itself well to the application of analytical techniques from the physical sciences. This is due to the fact that archaeology relies primarily on physical evidence, artifacts and features, whose origin, composition, age, and manner of production can be elucidated through application of the physical sciences. This course examines the application of physical science techniques to archaeological questions, including the age and origin of materials, how things are made, what people ate, their daily activities, and their state of health throughout their life. The course will include in-class labs in which students have the opportunity to apply some of these techniques and a final research project in which the student picks their own archaeological question to answer.
Exploring Ancient Technology
While it is commonplace to describe the present era as one dominated by technology, humans have always been critically dependent on technology. Many of today’s key technologies such as agriculture, writing, ceramics, woodworking, textiles, glass, and metals were invented before the dawn of recorded history. In this class, we will explore these ancient technologies, how they came to be invented, how they evolved, and how they were integrated into the social and economic life of ancient peoples to become the foundations of modern society. This course features lectures, readings, and hands-on laboratories and projects on ancient technology and experimental archaeology. Laboratories and projects will focus on how scientists create new knowledge about the past by testing hypotheses about ancient technology. The course concludes with either an individual project, such as replicating a particular artifact or process, or a class project, such as building and using a Mesopotamian glass furnace.
We see others as we imagine them to be, in terms of our values, not as they see themselves. This course examines ways in which we understand and represent the reality of others through visual media, across the boundaries of culture, gender, and race. It considers how and why visual media can be used to represent or to distort the world around us. Pictorial media, in particular ethnographic film and photography, are analyzed to document the ways in which indigenous and native peoples in different parts of the world have been represented and imagined by anthropologists and western popular culture.
Economics of Native America
Global Slavery and Human Trafficking
This course examines historical and contemporary dimensions of global slavery and human trafficking. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the world's largest forced migration between continents, but it was only one of many slave trades that shaped societies throughout the world. In order to understand the historical significance of global slave trades, we will compare it to other systems of slavery. In examining the historical significance and legacies of the slave trade, we will link different regional histories to the growth of market-based capitalist economies into the 20th century. The course will also examine the changing meaning of the term ‘slavery’ and examine some modern forms of forced labor, bondage, and slavery that persist to this day in all sectors of the global economy. We will explore the rise of human trafficking, and global anti-trafficking programs and campaigns.
Society, Environment, and Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The definition has evolved to recognize the importance of social factors in determining both individual and population health. This course uses the WHO’s 2008 Report “Closing the Gap in a Generation,” as an overarching theoretical framework in analyzing upstream and downstream factors that contribute to health outcomes. Using a sociological lens, this course explores diverse factors that have positive and negative impacts on individual and population health. These include macro-factors (climate change, environmental pollution, global and/or national economies) and micro-factors (the built environment- neighborhood conditions, green spaces, poor or low quality housing, and rest and leisure spaces). The course also integrates individual behavioral choices, educational attainment and the larger role of societal discrimination against subgroups within societies, the role of institutions and their impacts on population health. The course emphasizes that health is impacted by the social circumstances into which people are born, in which they grow up, live, work, and age; the distribution of power or unjust power relations; and the level of social exclusion or inclusion.
* At least one course must be taken at the 300-level or above.