This advanced research seminar offers the opportunity for the student to implement an advanced study of a specific culture and issue as it is shaped by various social, political, religious and economic contexts. The course will begin with a discussion of contemporary issues in anthropological field research and the writing process, and will include issues such as ethics, the impact of research on public policy, the framing of data and matters of style in the presentation of work. The majority of the course is devoted to individual pursuit of a topic, as relevant to a specific peoples or culture. Students will build on the frame that they constructed in Cultural Localities I by analyzing field research data. Building on work from the previous term, the length of the final paper is expected to be 60+ pages. Students will also work collaboratively to comment on each other’s work.
Should boys be robust and ruddy? Should girls be wan, lithe and prone to vapors? Unlike the Western scientific, biomedical constructions of the body, a cultural constructionist approach accepts the body, the self, and the person as culturally shaped, constrained, and invented. In this course, we will explore how social values and hierarchies are written in, on, and through the body, the relationship between body and (gender) identity; and the experiences and images of the body cross culturally. Our bodies and our perception of them constitute an important part of our sociocultural heritage, and throughout life we undergo a process of collectively sanctioned bodily modification that serves as an important instrument for our socialization. Alternating between discussion and experiential classes, students will read and discuss texts that address the social construction of the body, and examine the basis for movement, our anatomical structure, and how this is socially modified.