Anthropology

Chair: Jason Pribilsky

Eunice L. Blavascunas (on sabbatical, 2024-2025)

Rachel L. George (on sabbatical, 2024-2025)

Daniel Schultz

Özge Serin

Xiaobo Yuan

 

About the Department

Known as the 'holistic science of humankind', anthropology attempts to understand humanity in the broadest of comparative perspectives and in relationship with other animal species and the physical world. Among all the liberal arts disciplines, anthropology is unique in its goal of bridging the humanities, natural and social sciences, and in its long view of human time (from prehistory to the present). Together with their professors, anthropology students seek answers to the age-old question "what does it mean to be human?" through the detailed study and comparison of cultural traditions.

Learning Goals

Upon graduation, a student will be able to:

  • Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge
    • Understand how anthropological theory has developed over time and how this changes perception of human social and cultural diversity.
    • Have a familiarity with the sub-disciplines of anthropology and how each specialization contributes to an understanding of human social and cultural variability.
  • Critical Thinking
    • Critically assess issues involving human physical and cultural evolution and appreciate how these contributed to the development of contemporary diversity across the globe.
    • Analyze central aspects of cultures such as kinship, gender, ritual and religion, exchange, and language, and how such aspects vary across time and space.
  • Research
    • Organize in-depth research on anthropological issues based on collected field data or literature searches, and creatively, expressively, clearly, and soundly write reports.
  • After College
    • Develop a strong foundation for careers or acceptance into graduate schools that capitalize on qualitative methods and data analysis, understanding of cultural diversity, and critical assessment of normative value systems.
  • Citizenship
    • Bring broad perspectives to discussions outside of Whitman that deal with the state of the human condition, whether within the local community, the nation, or in global affairs.

Distribution

For students who started at Whitman College prior to Fall 2024, courses in Anthropology count toward the social sciences distribution area; selected courses count toward the social sciences or cultural pluralism distribution areas.

For students who start at Whitman College in Fall 2024 or later, please refer to the General Studies section for a full list of courses that count toward each distribution area.

Programs of Study

Courses

Credits 4

An introduction to foundational approaches in anthropology with an emphasis on understanding the human condition in broad historical, material, and cross-cultural contexts. Drawing on key ideas such as cultural relativism, human diversity, evolution, language, and “Othering,” case studies will explore the interplay between material and biological factors and particular social conditions for producing diverse ways of life. Open to first-year students and sophomores; juniors and seniors by consent only.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Studying the Past (STP)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

When Europeans first arrived in the Americas, they did not typically recognize Indigenous rituals, beliefs, and practices as “religion.” Over time, however, European Enlightenment categories such as “natural religion” were applied to Indigenous practices, with significant implications. This course will be both an excavation of the category of religion and a history of religion in Native America, including its contemporary setting. We will consider how religious, anthropological, and other Euroamerican categories have influenced and been involved in the production of “Indigenous religion” and Indigeneity in North America, as well as ways these categories have been co-constituted with/as/against race. The course will also focus on Native American engagement with Christianity, missionary work to Indigenous peoples, Native “conversion,” and U.S. reform efforts, such as federal boarding schools. We will consider how religion has functioned within the U.S. legal system, particularly in cases where Indigenous peoples have sought to protect their lands and practices under the rubric of religion. Particular attention will be given to religion in this region, with sections on Washat, or the Seven Drums religion of the Plateau peoples, First Salmon ceremonies of Pacific NW peoples, the missionary work of Myron Eells (son of Whitman Seminary founder Cushing Eells), and the missionary efforts of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman—namesakes of Whitman College—among the Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla people, and the complicated issue of memorializing and remembering the so-called “Whitman Massacre” and legacy. May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, And Ethnicity Studies major or minor. May be elected as Religion 153. Open only to first and second year students.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

An advanced introduction to cultural anthropology, the course will focus on ethnography as both the primary research method and the most common written genre of anthropology. Students will read both classic and contemporary ethnographies, engaging with in-depth studies of key concepts in cultural anthropology; topics may include social and political structures, nature/culture, kinship, race, gender and sexuality, medicine, migration, and more. Evaluation methods include exams, short essays, and ethnographic research and writing exercises. Open to sophomores and juniors; seniors by consent only.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

This introductory course in environmental anthropology explores how the field of anthropology, since its inception, has used natural and scientific concepts to explain human diversity and ecological relationships, while simultaneously addressing how culture shapes our understandings of landscapes and peoples' connection to them. Among the questions considered include: What are the relationships between culture and ecology? How does culture mediate relationships with land, water, soils, climate, plants, and animals? And how have these more-than-human beings had reciprocal and constraining relationships with humans?  This course also addresses ways scientific knowledge always reflects specific cultural features and historical contexts which shape understandings of concepts such as “nature,” ecology, and the environment. Formerly Anthropology/Environmental Studies 306-may not be taken if previously completed 306.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Faculty
Blavascunas

Europe exists as a category under constant negotiation and renegotiation. This course asks what the region of Europe has meant to the field of anthropology and how ethnography has both sustained and contested ideas of Europe as cultured, rational, a group of nations, and democratic. How is European geography lived, constructed and contested by a multitude of actors, institutions, and ideologies? Where has ethnography stood on matters of the far-right and notions of blood, roots, and soil. The course examines recent ethnographic debates within ethnographies that question the status of Europe as a category with an essential meaning.  Course draws examples from the politics of memory and forgetting, migration, ethnic conflict and war, and the metamorphosis of post-socialist societies in Eastern Europe, and the cultural politics of European integration within the European Union.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

Drawing from philosophy, history, literature, film, and various sub-disciplines of anthropology, this course will develop a robust theoretical framework for an anthropology of dead and dying bodies centered on the political, cultural, and scientific problematizations of the boundary between life and death. The course will introduce students to a substantial corpus of anthropological research on death-that-is-life of chronic disease and end-of-life care; biotechnologies and the ethics of remaking life and death; temporalities of death and dying; the necropolitical critique of the social abandonment and killing of racialized, ethnicized, and gendered Others; the management of human remains and relics; the corpse’s centrality to the shifting terrain of evidence and the implications of forensics for witnessing of trauma, violence, and loss; and spaces of death and dying as key sites of political mobilization and imaginaries of emancipation. May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Faculty
George

The course examines language as a system, cultural resource, and form of social action. Through an introduction to both linguistics and linguistic anthropology, students explore language's complex relation to cultural practices, ideologies, identities, and local/global hierarchies. Formerly Anthropology 317-may not be taken if previously completed 317.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

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 explores these transformations and their consequences for Chinese society and politics, national and regional cultures, and ordinary life. We will 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 ecological and environmental imaginations in 21st-century China. The class format will be mixed, lectures + discussion; assignments will include short paper assignments (4-6 pages), weekly forum posts, and a final presentation of a research topic. 

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

As global capitalism reaches into every corner of human life, what role does religion play in the reproduction of social inequalities, labor practices, and exploitative economies? Did religion sow the seeds of capitalism? How might religious traditions and practices be used to critique capitalism and reimagine the culture it created? In this course, we delve into the entanglements between religion and the dominant economic form of the modern world: capitalism. Areas covered include classical social theories of religion and capitalism (Marx, Weber, Tocqueville, Durkheim); contemporary examples of interactions between religious practice and capitalist processes; and the mobilization of religious traditions in critiquing and resisting capitalism. Topics may include the “Confucian ethic” and economic growth in East Asia; Islamic financial institutions; the effect of Pentecostalism’s explosive growth on the economic experiences of African and Latin American communities; the marketization and commodification of religion; and more. May be elected as Religion 223.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course explores lived religions through an anthropological lens. Through a wide range of ethnographic readings both classical and contemporary, we will delve into topics like myth, ritual, magic, witchcraft, ghosts, healing, religious experience and social movements, while examining how religion intersects with politics, race, gender/sexuality, and economics in diverse socio-cultural contexts. Through the course, we will also take stock of how theories of religion have been integral to the development of anthropological thought, contributing to comparative methodologies and cross-cultural ethnography. In addition to learning about global religious cultures, students will design a locally-focused research project to better understand our own region's religious landscape. May be elected as Religion 224.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course examines Christianity in its multiplicity and diversity, from its origins in a pluralistic ancient Mediterranean world to the spread of Christian practices and cultural forms throughout the globe. Through engagement with anthropology, history, theology, and literary texts, we will explore how various Christian texts, concepts, institutions, practices, and narratives have circulated among different populations in distinct socio-historical contexts. The course centers around two key questions: How has Christianity been formed and reformed through its global encounters? And how have these encounters in turn shaped the world as we know it?  May be elected as Religion 225.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

Religion is deeply woven into the historical fabric of American life. From the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas (Cahokia) to the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony, from the emergence of new religions like Mormonism to movements for social justice such as abolitionism and civil rights, religion cuts across the American experience—its political, legal, social, and cultural formations. This course offers an archaeological, historical, and ethnographic survey of religion in the United States, examining not only the ways it has been encoded in the nation’s founding documents and institutional practices, but also in the diversity of its lived forms. The course will investigate the ways religion becomes a site of contestation and identity formation. It will explore how religion is entangled in the many contradictions of American life, its forms of national storytelling, and the practice and afterlives of slavery and settler colonialism. May be elected as Religion 226.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Studying the Past (STP)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

This course serves as an introduction to medical anthropology – addressing a wide range of topical, theoretical, and research aspects of this broad subfield. Medical anthropology begins by challenging and moving beyond the narrow, often clinical, focus of the biological dimension of illness and healing to consider how illness, disease, health, and healing are always embedded within distinct social, political, and cultural worlds. Through the application of ethnographic case studies, we’ll move and compare classic formulations of medical anthropology including sorcery, divination, and shamanism with more recent concerns with the impact and influence of scientific thinking and medical technologies, addressing the cultural implications of everything from epigenetics to CAT scans. Throughout the course, we will pay close attention to the intersections of biology and culture, including ongoing dialogues (and debates) between anthropology and biomedicine. Course activities will include reading ethnographies, small ethnographic research projects, and exams. May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)

This course focuses on Indigeneity as both an intellectual project and an in-the-world force shaping the lives of Indigenous peoples, including their cultural practices, resistance, and activism. The course will begin with an explanation of varied and often contested genealogies of Indigeneity and Indigenous identity across time, geography, political contexts, and different fields of study (e.g., anthropology, history, political philosophy and theory). Adopting a global perspective, topics will include Indigenous peoples' struggles for autonomy and survival; self-determination and political status under international law; the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; land struggles and the protection of natural resources; cultural resurgence and revival of select traditions; and varied forms of political resistance and decolonization. This course will also look at the parallels and intersections between Indigenous and Native Studies with wider movements against settler colonialism and anti-Blackness. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. May be elected as Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies 240.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Credits 1 Max Credits 4

See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of anthropological theory with a special emphasis on movements to “decolonize” the discipline starting in the 1960s. Organizationally, the course explores various “schools” of thought in anthropology and their differing conceptual and analytical tools for making sense of human social life and cultural experience. Emphasis will be placed on asking how key questions and approaches have taken form in anthropology and have changed over time. For instance, we will consider what constitutes “classical” theory and the composition of a canon of key works, asking what themes and thinkers get included and which do not, and how criteria of inclusion change.  The seminar format emphasizes close reading and active discussion of key texts and theorists.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Writing Across Contexts (WAC)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

At least one prior course in Anthropology.

Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course examines issues of gender and religion as they intersect with global political discourses about women’s rights and competing definitions of agency. The study of global religions have been transformed in important ways by encounters with postcolonial and feminist scholarship; similarly, the persistent interest in religious forms of life have shaped how scholars think about gender, sexuality, and feminism in transnational contexts. In this course, we will explore how these dialogues between feminism, postcolonial studies, and religious studies may inform and transform our understandings of categories like “women” and “religion.” Questions explored will include: why have women’s bodies and forms of religious dress become charged sites of these negotiations? What assumptions concerning moral agency, freedom, and public/private space invest these sites with meaning in the first place? Why does the sensibility of being modern and politically progressive depend so heavily on particular representations of the appropriate roles and behaviors of women and religion? May be elected as Religion 303. May be taken for credit towards the Gender Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Studying the Past (STP)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

This course will explore how anthropological ideas and theories, both traditional and contemporary, appear in genres of writing not usually associated with anthropology, such as novels and memoirs. We will consider the strengths and weaknesses of different genres of writing for communicating anthropological findings and ideas, discuss questions of truth and knowledge in ethnographic writing, and consider the implications of our discussions for so-called 'public' anthropology.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

Anthropology 101 or 201; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

This survey course on the history and theory of ethnographic film will approach cinematic imagination as an instrument of self-othering. How does ethnographic film expose and disrupt the sensory perceptions, common-sense conceptions, and dominant interpretations of social and cultural practice? What is its political potential as an aesthetic form and medium to construct new meanings, tell alternative (hi)stories, and create different worlds? The course will introduce students to seminal works in the genre from its beginnings at the turn of the 20th century to the present, including more recent, self-reflexive, and experimental productions. Requirements include weekly film screenings, film critiques, and a final exam. May be taken for credit toward the Film and Media Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

Anthropology 201; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

What can we learn from the history, ideology and practice of socialism, anarchism, and communism when thinking ecologically? Was communism uniformly destructive, marked by catastrophes like the Chernobyl meltdown or Mao’s war on nature? What are the unexpected environmental surprises or sustainable aspects of socialist experiments, including those in state socialism as well as external to the state? This course provides both political theory and case studies to examine what is/was state socialism, anarchism, and the Communist Party in a global context and with special emphasis on peasants, their agricultural practices, revolutionary inclinations, and obstinacy against the state.  The course draws on materials from environmental history, post-socialist anthropology, and political ecology to explore lived realities and utopian projections of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

Video poker machines, water pumps in developing countries, everyday office furniture, the ubiquitous smartphone: our worlds are shaped by intentional objects and their power to inform our habits, actions, and sensations. Anthropologists have studied how the things humans make – from a stone tool to cooking pot to a bicycle – are more than their function and utility This course is an introduction to the anthropology of design – a recent, loosely articulated field of study that bridges academic and commercial ventures in a pursuit to understand how people make, circulate, and use made objects and products. Fusing standard approaches and concerns of cultural anthropology with the eclectic field of Science and Technology Studies (STS), this class will explore diverse historical and cultural forms of how things humans make come to embody complex social trajectories. In other words, we’ll look at how technologies, broadly defined, come to take on “a life of their own.” We’ll begin class by considering how technology shapes and is shaped by political and cultural contexts. Next, we’ll move to philosophical investigations into the relationship between materials, form, and craft and finally proceed to read ethnographic case studies of design as both an expertise and an ordinary practice. All along, we will assess ways “design thinking,” as an open-ended and often unpredictable process of creativity, shares affinities with anthropology’s core method of ethnography. This class is a seminar with discussion (including student-directed discussion) as the primary activity. Assignments will include a short analytical essay, a mini research project on a designed object, and a semester-long group project developing a design intervention.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

Anthropology 101 or 201; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

This course explores various cultural, political, and historical understandings of the connections between language and group identity, particularly national identity. In particular, it traces the histories and theoretical foundations of - and debates around - the idea of 'one language, one people' and uses ethnographic examples to consider how that idea has played out in contemporary social and political movements. May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

What is the state? What’s special about state power and state institutions? How do we understand and experience bureaucracy, state violence, policing, state secrecy, and transparency? How do state structures produce and intersect with constructions of race, gender, class, and other social distinctions? How do we live within and without the state? This course challenges notions of “the state” as a monolithic entity and examines the state as an ensemble of institutions and practices. We will interrogate the foundations of the state and its manifestations in contexts of cultural and social difference. And we will think in novel ways about what it means to approach the state anthropologically — by centering systems of meaning and belief, everyday practices, structures of power, and emergent forms of resistance. Closely engaging with theories of the nation-state, colonialism, hegemony, governmentality, and other concepts, this course will incorporate materials from social theory, ethnography, documentary films, and other genres to examine representations of the state across a variety of socio-historical contexts. Topics may include bureaucratic regimes, policing and incarceration, conditions of “statelessness,” crisis management, conspiracy theories and paranoia, and the national security state.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

At least four credits of prior coursework in Anthropology.

Credits 4

In this course we will explore anthropological approaches to the ways in which people use new media to interact, play with language, and construct various identities in a wide range of political and cultural contexts.  We will compare popular and scholarly discussions of media to each other and to our own observations of how real people behave online and in other digitally-mediated spaces. May be taken for credit toward the Film and Media Studies major.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

At least four credits of prior coursework in Anthropology or Film Studies; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

What does it mean to push back against power? Since the 1970s, resistance has been a dominant framework for cultural anthropologists. Emerging out of interests in social inequality, hegemony, and power, anthropologists have sought to analyze practices of "resistance" at multiple scales, from mass political movements to the "hidden transcripts" of everyday life. This focus on resistance has also met its own resistances, most recently from scholars who have theorized "refusal" as an alternative framework for understanding counter-hegemonic practices. In this seminar, we will engage with texts on a variety of issues -- including civil disobedience, peasant uprisings, postcolonial and indigenous protests, religious "piety" movements, non-sovereign politics, and ethnographic refusal -- to explore the following questions: What is the difference between resisting and refusing -- and why does it matter? How do acts of resistance and refusal generate new structures of power? And what might the future of resistance and refusal look like? Class format is seminar (discussion-based) and assignments include short papers (4-6 pages), oral presentations on readings, and a final exploratory paper on a research topic. 

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

What are the histories of domestication and what forms has the wild taken?  Are home and the wild antithetical ideas? Are agriculture and hunting/gathering really all that different culturally? What power is summoned or rejected by the domestic and the wild in anthropological thought and practice?  Topics include the archaeology of domestication, rewilding, multi-species relations, social stratification and hierarchy, nature conservation and intimacy.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

This course, run as a workshop-seminar, introduces students to the ins and outs of ethnographic research, from research design to ethics and writing. Focused around a different research topic or problem in eastern Washington chosen each year the course is taught (e.g., housing, health care for the poor and uninsured, food security), students will devise an ethnographic research project amendable to the employment of a variety of ethnographic methods. Methods may include mapping, linguistic/discourse analysis, focused observation, ethnographic interviewing, and focus groups. Technical readings on ethnographic methods, ethics, and writing will be supplemented with critical readings from anthropology and related fields germane to the particular year’s topic of study. Assignments will include short papers and a final ethnographic report.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

Anthropology 201; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

This course is a hands-on workshop in how to conduct ethnographic research and present findings in the genre of ethnographic writing. We will look at how cultural anthropologists and other ethnographers propose research questions and designs and execute ethnographic projects. Readings will combine straightforward discussions of the technical aspects of specific methods with reflections on the ethnographic process drawn from ethnographic writings themselves, fieldwork reflections, and fictionalized accounts of the fieldwork experience.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Prerequisites

At least one prior course in Anthropology; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” asks Jane Austen’s heroine Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. This class takes up this question and extends it to address a variety of cross-cultural, historical, and comparative entanglements between mountains and humans. Beginning with the comparative study of mountain ecologies, we’ll look at similarities in deep time adaptation to mountainscapes (e.g., the Andes and Himalayas) focusing on ways the environment shapes biological and cultural formations. Additionally, the impact of various contemporary environmental concerns (including climate change, deglaciation, and mining) will be understood in the context of adaptation, resistance and activism. We’ll supplement work in anthropology and related fields with the meanings of mountains found in literature, poetry, film, and philosophy. From definitions of the sublime to endless pursuits to reach ever higher and more elusive summits, this course will explore the many ways mountains have shaped and been shaped by human imagination. The class will be run as a reading seminar and writing workshop. In addition to short analytic papers, over the course of the semester students will craft their own “mountain essay” using ethnographic and creative nonfiction writing approaches. May be elected as Environmental Studies 345, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 345 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 1 Max Credits 4

See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

An upper-level introduction to the subfield of urban anthropology using ethnographic examples that explore the form and quality of urban life in the United States, Europe, and selected non-Western cultures. Case studies will be read to assess the varying theories and methods applied in anthropological analyses of cities, their significance in the broader field of urban studies, and the provocative themes that emerge such as social networks, violence, health and disease, and homelessness. The course examines contemporary U.S. “inner city” problems, rapidly urbanizing cities in the developing world, and trends in today’s emerging “global cities.” May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major or minor. 

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

Missionaries have often been understood or depicted as proto-anthropologists, as early ethnographers, or as a foil against which the field of anthropology has defined itself. Some critics have situated missionaries as anthropology’s repressed other. In this class we will explore the long encounter between Europe and the so-called New World through writings describing that encounter--writings by explorers, missionaries, naturalist-ethnologists, “Natives,” and, eventually, by professional anthropologists. We will consider material resemblances, collaborations and antagonisms, and the ways in which anthropology is both heir to and a departure from missionary practice. Special attention will be given to the anthropological missionary work of Myron Eells, son of the founder of Whitman Seminary. The course will be interdisciplinary, drawing on scholarship and methods from Anthropology and Religious Studies and works on secularism. May be elected as Religion 350.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

Sex and gender have been framing, analytical categories throughout the history of anthropology. This course explores why sex and gender are invaluable to understanding the human condition. Yet, “sex” and “gender” are not stagnant categories. Instead, they vary across time, place and researcher. Thus, while considering cross-cultural expressions of sex and gender in the ethnographic record, this course is also designed to examine theoretical developments in the field. May be elected as Gender Studies 358.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)

An upper-level introduction to the widening field known as science and technology studies (STS). Interdisciplinary in scope, this course primarily draws on ethnographic attempts to understand how science and technology shape human lives and livelihoods and how society and culture, in turn, shape the development of science and technology. Throughout the course we will be particularly concerned with ways that scientific visions and projects, broad in scope, articulate, mirror, distort, and shape hierarchies based on such categories as gender, race, class, development, definitions of citizenship, understandings of nature, the production of knowledge, and global capitalism. Topics may include race-based pharmaceuticals, climate debates and “natural” disasters, genomics, politicized archaeology, science in postcolonial contexts, DNA fingerprinting, clinical trials, cyborgs, nuclear weapons production, and human/nonhuman relationships. May be elected as Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies 360.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

What kinds of queer possibilities, spaces, and practices do we find internal to religious traditions? How do religious imaginations, narratives, bodily disciplines, and ritual practices open onto what Ashon Crawley has termed “otherwise possibilities”? How might queer religion offer visions of social and political transformation? Paying close attention to the boundaries that structure sexual, gender, and religious discourse — for instance, boundaries between nature and culture, immanence and transcendence, and modernity and tradition — this course takes up the question and status of “queerness” in relation to religion. Topics to be discussed include (but are not limited to) queer ecology, queer theologies, queer ethnographies across different cultural and historical settings, and queer methodologies/reading strategies. May be elected as Religion 365.  

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

How do people talk with god(s)? What marks language as “religious”? What elements of power, identity, and agency are enacted through linguistic interactions between humans and the sacred? In this course, we explore these questions by looking at the role of language in diverse forms of religious life. Readings will examine how different genres of speech, text, and communicative practice mediate relationships between humans and the divine or otherworldly, with topics including ritual and sacramental language, prayer and confession, conversion narratives, shamanism and spirit possession, speaking in tongues, translation, and other linguistic phenomena. We will also consider how religion shapes popular language ideologies — that is, how religious beliefs structure the way we understand the authority, intentionality, or function of language itself. In addition to reading texts drawing from anthropological theory, religious studies, and ethnographic analyses of religious language in action, students will engage with films and primary source materials to contribute their own analyses of “religious language.” Classes will be discussion-centered, with assignments a mixture of short written responses, analytical essays, and a culminating research-driven assignment. May be elected as Religion 366.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

Affect is notoriously difficult to define. Often associated with bodily intensities, potentials, sensations, and capacities, the concept of affect contrasts with cognition and rationality, and challenges formal structures of meaning and representation. Emotions, on the other hand, are culturally meaningful feelings, with regularized patterns and normative expressions. In this course, we bring these two concepts together by exploring how both affect and emotion shape our social world. How are political commitments viscerally felt? What sensations attach people to religious beliefs? How are emotions (like anger or grief) strategically mobilized in social movements? More broadly, we ask: how do experiences of affect, emotion, passion, and sensation inform how people navigate the world? Focusing on scholars of the “affective turn” in anthropology and religious studies, this course introduces students to theoretical and ethnographic scholarship that bring attention to how feelings, sensations, and embodied energies reside in and transform the world, as well as how feelings become meaningful in different cultural and religious contexts. Topics include the role of affect in political and religious movements; the cultural significance of emotions (and the limits of representation); collective effervescence and spiritual ecstasy; eco-anxiety and the embodied atmospherics of climate catastrophe; the circulation of “bad feelings” in mass media; and other examples of the affective dimensions of social life. Classes will be discussion-centered, with assignments a mixture of short written responses, analytical essays, and a culminating research-driven assignment. May be elected as Religion 367.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 1 Max Credits 4

For advanced students only. The student will undertake readings in depth in an area of theory or content of his or her own choice.

Prerequisites

Consent of instructor.

Credits 4

The goal of this course is to help students further explore the role of social theory and its relevance to the development of anthropological research. In a seminar setting, students will read and critically discuss a number of contemporary anthropological monographs possessing exemplary theoretical, methodological, and empirical sophistication. Short written assignments will supplement in-class discussion. As a secondary goal, students will craft and workshop a proposal for their own capstone research project. Required of, and only open to, senior anthropology majors.

Credits 2

Senior major students create a substantial original capstone project based on the previous semester plan.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 2

Designed to further independent research leading to the preparation of an undergraduate honors thesis/project in anthropology. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in anthropology.

Prerequisites

Admission to honors candidacy.