What's New For 2020-21

ANTH 1140 6.0 What is it to be Human? Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 2020 6.0 (New Section) Race, Racism and Popular Culture                                                                                       ANTH 2130 6.0 Anthropology Through the Visual: Images of Resistance/Irresistible Images                                          ANTH 2210 6.0 Advocate and Educate for Change: Applying Anthropology                                                                            ANTH 2330 6.0 Outbreak: Contagion and Risk in Anthropological Context                                                                          ANTH 3230 6.0 Women, Culture and Society                                                                                                                                       ANTH 4130 6.0 The Professional Anthropologist: Work-Study Placement

ANTH 1140 6.0 What is to be Human? Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology

Anth 1140 6.0 What is it to be Human? Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology (PDF)

What is culture and how does it vary over time? What shapes people’s ideas and experiences of belonging and identity? How are people propelled to imagine who they are how they belong?  In this full-year course, students are introduced to key concepts, theories and debates in anthropology.  We will address topics covering the social construction of ‘race’, the relationship between sex and gender, and various kinds of social organization, such as family relations, political and economic partnerships, nation-building strategies, and citizenship. We will also attend to the role of language, belief systems, and affect in shaping human experiences, motivations, and actions. Through ethnographic readings, films, experiential learning, guest speakers, and virtual field trips, we will familiarize ourselves with the conceptual and practical tools of anthropology for analyzing, understanding and reflecting on power and systems of inequality.  In the Fall term, we will focus on anthropology’s big ideas and in the Winter term, we will learn how to apply and develop these ideas to the multicultural and multiracial context of the Greater Toronto Area. The aim of this course is to move beyond rote memorization and to sharpen our capacity to question taken-for-granted assumptions and common-sense beliefs and to help us realise the potential of anthropology to engage with the world around us.


ANTH 2020 6.0 A Race, Racism and Popular Culture

This course critically explores ideas of race and racist practice, both past and present. Through a range of readings and audio-visual materials, we will examine how race is produced and reproduced, as well as how racism is perpetuated and sustained, in multiple, shifting, and context-dependent ways. Of particular concern will be the ways in which various forms of popular culture are shaped by, and shape, race and racism.

The course will also look at how race and racisms intersect with, and in, the production of other identity categories and experiences, including gender, nation, class, ethnicity and sexuality. Overall, the course proceeds with the understanding that race is a social (often ideological) construction rather than a biological given. Attention will thus be given to histories of the idea of race and racist practice, and the social forces giving rise to these, both past and present.

The course will also try to illuminate some of the more subtle 'new racisms' characteristic of the contemporary period. A highlighting of Canadian context-specificities will be important in this regard, and throughout. We will also look at how (thinking about) conditions of globalization, diaspora and creolisation can complicate and help to enrich our understandings of race and the workings of racism in the contemporary period. Various strategies of resistance to racism will also be considered and debated in the process of exploring 'race from below'. A range of explanatory models and approaches will be examined from political economy and historical materialism, to discourse theory and performance theory.


ANTH 2130 6.0 Anthropology Through the Visual: Images of Resistance/Irresistible Images

How are images a form of communication?  How do photographs, political cartoons, and visual art embody verbal interaction? In this course, students are introduced to a variety of visual forms of representation including, but not limited to films, advertisements, public art, cartoons, graphic novels, and social media, to understand how the visual conveys cultural lives and experiences.  We will start with the politics of representation and authority, particularly who is made visible, who is rendered invisible, and who is occluded in visual representations. We will address anthropology’s role in othering and objectifying various groups of people. Then, we will untangle the relationship between public memory, “truth”,  and “cancel culture”  and the conditions that contextualize the production and defacement of national monuments and memorials. We will unpack how and why toys, movies and other visual technologies produce, and are produced by, meaning, fantasy, and desire of and for various publics. In the later section of the course, we will cover how certain groups, such as Idle No More and Black Lives Matter, are creating political interventions through social media, gaining traction as political social movements and consider the implications of these counter-narratives.


ANTH 2210 6.0 Advocate and Educate for Change: Applying Anthropology

In university, we come to better understand cultural problems. But how can this knowledge be adapted to reach wider audiences and help communities and organizations create change? This course is about applying anthropology; how to take the methods and insights of scholarship outside the walls of colleges and universities, and how anthropologists collaborate with others to effect change.

ANTH 2210 introduces the history of engaged research in anthropology, teaches public engagement and media outreach skills, and explores numerous examples of advocacy, activism, collaboration and consulting through experiential learning methods.

Assessment will include:

  • Participation in an international online community action exercise;
  • Development of a public educational campaign

This full-year course does not have any prerequisites and can be taken as a complement to your program, or as a required course for a minor or certificate in advocacy and public engagement.


ANTH 2330 6.0 Outbreak: Contagion and Risk in Anthropological Context

We are living in a global pandemic. This moment has made the study of infectious disease, viruses, vaccines, and contagion more urgent as we grapple with COVID19 and the ways it has changed our lives. While many of our lives have been affected by COVID19 and subsequent restrictions such as physical distancing and mandatory masking, how each of us is impacted by the virus is not uniform. The same can be said about many viruses and infectious disease that humans have encountered before.

How we experience infectious diseases and viruses is informed by a host of factors which include race, geographical location, class/socio-economic status, sexuality, gender, privilege, etc. Additionally, how we understand and negotiate things like risk, public good, community well-being, and self-care as they relate to health and illness are also affected by who we are and where we come from. Simply said, no disease will impact two people in the exact same ways.

This course explores the social aspect of illness, viruses, and disease using local and global examples. The course will begin with an introduction to medical anthropology and concepts that are at its foundation which include biomedicine as cultural phenomenon, risk, and cross-cultural explorations of illness and health. We will engage with readings that explore diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARS, and COVID19 to illustrate the importance of understanding infectious diseases and viruses beyond biological pathogens. In the second term we will explore common approaches to interventions created for infectious diseases, and look at the contributions of anthropologists to improving human and environmental health.

In this course, you will be introduced to:

  1. The field of medical anthropology,
  2. The importance of ethnographic research for the study of health and disease,
  3. The relationship between culture, class/SES, gender, race, sexuality, politics, inequality, and disease phenomena, with specific attention to infectious diseases in local, national, and/or international contexts,
  4. Critical learning skills, including basic anthropological research methods, theories, academic integrity and applications of knowledge

ANTH 3230 6.0 Women, Culture and Society

This course examines a variety of theoretical and ethnographic approaches to the intersectionality of “womanism”, class, sexuality, and race that developed out of and/or intensified by settler, colonial, scientific, political, religious, and economic developments.  We will begin with the nature vs culture debate, questioning and critically assessing anthropological concerns over female bodies, sexualities, gender identities, statuses, and labour.  We will consider women in relation to structures of power and inequality, such as debates over women as agents and/or victims, and address contemporary discussions involving, but not limited to, migration, care work, sex work, reproductive technologies, beauty and fashion, and familial intimacies and responsibilities.  In the later section of the course, we will engage with current directions in feminist anthropology, such as decolonizing research methodologies, collaborations, community work, and social activism.


ANTH 4130 6.0 The Professional Anthropologist: Work-Study Placement

4130 6.0 The Professional Anthropologist: The Anthropologist as Practitioner (PDF)

Would you like to apply your anthropological skills and gain academic credit?

If so, then the fourth year ANTH 4130 6.0 The Professional Anthropologist: Work-Study Placement course is for you.

This year-long course offers you the opportunity to conduct research and/or volunteer with a range of host organizations such as NGOs, hospitals, immigration agencies, homeless shelters, corporations and other service organizations that are approved by the department of Anthropology.

You will engage in experiential learning and community-engaged research under the guidance of a course director. You are required to identify issues that you intend to explore during your placement before starting the experiential learning opportunity.

The placement must include at least 100 hours of work or volunteer activities over the academic year.

Assessment will include:

  • weekly communication via the blog site (shared journaling);
  • a research paper;
  • a final community report.

Registration for this course requires the permission of the instructor and an approved placement site. Spots will be reserved for students who are enrolled in the Advocacy and Public Engagement Minor or Certificate program. An open interview will be conducted before Fall online registration begins. This course is restricted to third and fourth-year Anthropology students who have completed ANTH 3110 6.0.

Please contact the Anthropology Department Chair for registration details: updanth@yorku.ca