Anthropology with a justice-based focus
Environmental conflicts are always embedded within social justice issues. Environmental Justice began as a movement in the Unites States to document how and why marginalized communities bear the burdens of environmental hazards. Today, Environmental Justice has become a global concept; activists and researchers use this lens to unpack how race, class, gender, and other social structures condition how people experience the environment. This class will focus on the environmental aspects of contemporary issues such as migration, indigenous activism against pipelines and mining, and water conflicts. We will examine how power relations condition the different ways groups of people experience the environment. We will explore these issues locally and internationally, with guest speakers, readings, and documentaries, devoting a significant part of the course to learning from activists around the world about their proposals for change.
Introduction to Cultural Anthropolgoy
Anthropology is the study of human experience across time and space. Cultural anthropology is the study of how people understand and experience the world around them. Cultural anthropologists study groups’ worldviews and identities. We value understanding both large-scale social processes and local-level experience. Today, many cultural anthropologists focus on inequalities, particularly along major social boundaries such as race, nationality, class, gender, and sexuality. We study how these boundaries change with cultural, political, social, and economic shifts.
In this course, we will study the major concepts and methods in cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropologists’ primary research method is ethnography: focusing on a local group (or groups) of people by living alongside them. We use ethnography to understand people’s worldviews and how that group fits into society at large. Traditionally, cultural anthropologists were almost all white Western people who studied remote groups. Today, the scope of anthropology and anthropologists themselves are much more diverse. Ethnography, a close-up engagement with people, is an illuminating tool that helps us understand any society, including our own.