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    The New School for Social Research
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    New York, NY 10011
    212.229.5600 or 800.523.5411
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    Department of Anthropology
    6 East 16th Street, 9th floor
    New York, NY 10003
    Tel: 212.229.5757 x3016
    Fax: 212.229.5595

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    79 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor
    New York, NY 10003

    Hugh Raffles

    Senior Secretary
    Charles Whitcroft

    Student Advisor
    Jack Jiang

    Anthropology Student Handbook

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  • Courses in the Department of Anthropology explore the entwined concepts of “knowing that” and “knowing how.” All courses in the department follow one of two tracks. The “Perspectives” track examines different viewpoints on the subject of anthropological research. The “Practices” track trains students in ethnographic fieldwork and other research methods.

  • Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Fall 2023 Anthropology courses include: 

    Critical Foundations of Anthropology: Key Concepts, GANT 6051
    Ann Stoler
    , Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and History

    The very title Critical Foundations of Anthropology calls for reflection. “Critical” may refer to one set of concerns, “Foundations” to another. Does the title Critical Foundations suggest a critical view on foundations? Is “critical foundations” an oxymoron, since the very purpose of critique is to question what we think we know, to question and destabilize received conventions of thought, to question one’s confidence in answers? Does it demand that we engage new questions? Not least, we will ask what is included and excluded from that which was commonly asserted (and protected) as “the canon,” and not least to confront the “common” in “common sense.” In this seminar, we will work neither to defend the principles, practices, and politics of an earlier anthropology nor reject and dismiss that work out of hand. The effort here is rather to situate what questions were being asked, why those questions were asked and not others, who was doing the asking, what constituted the proper domains of inquiry, and what did not. Can we make sense of our present by understanding better what was the political and global landscape in which anthropology developed as a discipline, as a form of knowledge, as a knowledge-producing machine, one whose "winnowing" practices filtered out its conditions of production and the politics, colonial and otherwise, that have allowed anthropologists to pursue what they once did and do today.

    Problems in Anthropology, GANT 6065
    Hugh Raffles
    Professor and Chair of Anthropology

    This seminar provides an introduction to contemporary anthropology as a broad field of inquiry and an academic discipline. Students get glimpses of both the discipline's past and its potential futures. We focus on ethnography as a practice of thinking, representation, and expression, reading books that offer a sense of anthropology's breadth and possibility. Depending on class size and student preferences, the course may also involve a practical component. This is a core course requirement for Anthropology MA students; interested students in other departments should contact the instructor for permission to register.

    The Moral Economy of Diversity, GANT 6088
    Nicolas Langlitz, Associate Professor of Anthropology

    Race, Culture and the Classification of People
    , GANT 6113
    Lawrence Hirschfeld
    , Professor of Anthropology and Psychology (CSD)

    Few ideas are as potent, as easy to learn, and as difficult to forget as race. This course explores issues about race by disrupting "common sense" and by identifying its psychological and cultural dimensions. The approach is comparative: to examine differences and similarities in racial thinking across cultures and across historical periods and to compare race with other important social categories, such as gender and class.

    Political Imagination, GANT 6265
    Barbara Adams
    , Assistant Professor of Design and Social Justice

    This course focuses on imagination as a mode of inquiry and as a site of political creativity. We build on long-standing work on the sensorium to expand conceptions of the political, providing students with the opportunity to generate new imaginative possibilities. Approaches include building a research practice that involves walking, archiving, mapping, multimedia, and sensory-oriented fieldwork; speculative storytelling; and the practice of material synaesthesia. Grounded in a series of site engagements, the course foregrounds sensorial literacies and methods of "observation" that include but go beyond the visual, developing mimetic capacities and embodied modes of understanding and relating. We center collaboration and cooperation as essential modes of inquiry and practice. Possible sites range from a sewer grate to local waterways and sidewalk trees to botanical gardens. We look at living systems, asking what the natural world can teach us about mutual aid, recovery, and restoration,while emphasizing traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), queer and non-binary perspectives, and multi-species cosmopolitics. We work collectively to develop alternative visions and approaches that challenge the myths, metaphors, practices, and narratives that make it difficult to shape the world and our futures in ways that center justice.

    Technopolitics, GANT 6614
    Antina von Schnitzler
    , Associate Professor of International Affairs

    This course explores the relationship between the political and the technical, with a particular focus on recent work on infrastructure and expertise in the humanities and social sciences. From railroads to communication networks, water pipes to electricity wires, infrastructures and technology have been central to mediating modernity. This course approaches infrastructures not as neutral means to more substantive ends but as networked systems that both shape and are shaped by social life and can thus open up a broader set of inquiries in relation to classical questions of political theory, from democracy and citizenship to protest and disagreement. Specifically, we are interested in how infrastructures and technical devices become central to the constitution of political terrains in a context in which the formal political sphere is often de facto inaccessible to many. The course begins by examining the historical relationship between infrastructure, technology, and power through studies of colonial infrastructures, Cold War technopolitics, and the centrality of infrastructure and technology in projects of development and modernization. We then explore contemporary instances of technopolitics, from climate change expertise and the protests surrounding extractive infrastructures to the technopolitical questions laid bare by COVID-19. Readings focus on theory that has influenced the “infrastructural turn” and draw on science and technology studies, anthropology, political theory, and geography. This course requires permission from the instructor to register. 


    PHD Proseminar II: Project Conceptualization, GANT 7006
    Abou Farman
    Associate Professor of Anthropology

    This doctoral seminar is designed to help students develop and formulate a dissertation project that can grapple with some of the theoretical questions of ethnographic research while keeping the project grounded in empirical inquiry. We inquire deeply into the nature and purpose of the project you hold in mind and, hopefully, also into the mind that holds the project in it. We address three basic sets of questions: 1) What is the project about? What questions are you asking, and how do they address what your project is about? What histories, what theories do you need to explore to make sense of the project? 2) Why does it matter, and to whom? What is at stake in the project but also for you as a researcher and a person in the world? 3) How do you imagine the field—the intellectual field and the ethnographic one? Where is your project, at what site and scale, in what imagined space? Where is the beauty of your project? What objects and subjects, what events and incidents, will you be examining? Grappling with? What senses, emotions, actions will inform your engagement? The seminar sessions alternate between reading, making, and writing exercises that develop your thoughts around these questions. The goal is to clarify your research problematic and the literature you will need to engage the field. Enrollment is limited to PhD students in the early stages of developing a research project. Students from any NSSR or Milano PhD program are welcome to apply. Please fill out the petition to join the seminar here.

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