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    Vassar College
  Nov 24, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ANTH 240 - Cultural Localities

Semester Offered: Fall and Spring
1 unit(s)

Detailed study of the cultures of people living in a particular area of the world, including their politics, economy, worldview, religion, expressive practices, and historical transformations. Included is a critical assessment of different approaches to the study of culture. Areas covered vary from year to year and may include Europe, Africa, North America, India and the Pacific.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2017/18a: China, Now: Perspectives on Post-Socialist Life. (Same as ASIA 240 ) Since the end of the Maoist era and the beginning of “Reform and Opening Up” (beginning in 1978), China has experienced staggering social changes, from transitioning to a market economy to re-entering the global political theater as an increasingly influential superpower. This course surveys how anthropological and sociological scholarship has taken stock of this dynamic time. How has China’s rapid economic and political development been represented in contemporary scholarship? To what extent is the present-day People’s Republic seen as a “post-Socialist” state, and in what ways do socialist and revolutionary legacies of the Maoist era still resonate? Incorporating scholarly monographs and articles, films, and fiction, we examine topics including the history and politics of “Reform and Opening Up”; urbanization, migration, and the division of labor in cities and countryside; shifts in mass consumption and mediated desire; the social reproduction of traditional concepts like “guanxi” and “face”; religion and ethics; and media landscapes in 21st-century China. Students develop a final research paper on a topic of their own choice. Knowledge of Chinese not required. Xiaobo Yuan. 

Topic for 2017/18b: Atlantic World(s). (Same as AFRS 240 ) To speak of the Atlantic World is to speak of the peoples who inhabit the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and its marginal seas, and who are interconnected by histories of imperial expansion, enslavement, commerce, and migration. Imperial conquest led to the displacement and decimation of indigenous peoples, while slavery, indenture, and trade led and the creation of African, European, and Asian Diasporas in the Americas. These processes gave rise to the very idea of globalization, as well as the ideals of freedom, decolonization, and universal rights. This course introduces the diasporas, networks, and economic flows that integrate the Caribbean, Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Using ethnographies, histories, narratives, music, and film, we explore the processes of migration, imperial expansion, and economic integration that continue to shape the peoples, languages, and cultures of the Atlantic World. We also critically examine the strengths and limitations of concepts and theoretical frameworks used to produce knowledge about the peoples and histories of the Atlantic world. Topics include imperialism and its legacies, (de)colonization, capitalism, slavery, indenture, marronage, piracy, revolution, abolition, creolization, race, class, and gender. Louis Römer.

Two 75-minute periods.

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