Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Chair

Department of Anthropology

University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

University of Pennsylvania

Teaching: Courses

Undergraduate Courses

Social Sciences 12100. Self, Culture, and Society I, Perspectives on Modernity: the Social Organization of Capitalist Production. (=Anthropology 12101) This course explores the nature and development of modern society through an examination of theories of capitalism. The classic social theories of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Max Weber, along with contemporary ethnographic and historical works, serve as points of departure for considering the characterizing features of the modern world, with particulay emphasis on its social-economic structure and issues of work, the division of labor, and the texture of time. Texts include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1987 [1754], The Basic Political Writings, Adam Smith, 1976 [1776], An Inquiry into the nature and causes of the Wealth of Nations, Tucker, ed.,1978, The Marx-Engels Reader, and Max Weber, 1992 [1905], The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism.

Anthropology 24002. Colonizations II (=Social Sciences 24002, Center for Race, Politics, and Culture 24002; History 18302) Must be taken in sequence.  This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.  Colonizations 2 is the second part of the three-course colonizations sequence which stresses the importance of colonialism in the making of the modern world. In this course we stress the complex and long-standing connections that joined the “Old World” of Eurasia, Africa, and Oceania both before and during colonial incorporation.  These links are as old as our species itself, but there have been patterns of connection and periods of significant change. In this course we adopt a primary focus on the Indian Ocean world, which stretched from the Mediterranean to East Asia, and within which religions, languages, objects of trade, plants and animals, and forms of cultural production circulated from the second millennium BCE onward.  This is a very long period of time, and we will thus have to be chronological tourists, checking in on events from time to time and place to place.
    Because we are thinking about ‘civilizational’ space in terms of connections, the course will place special emphasis on religion, trade, culture, and politics, factors that created both conflict and unity.  Connections between people, personal and institutional, are our primary focus, so we rely on social history, including personal accounts of rulers, travelers, pilgrims, and others.  In addition to ties of kinship, authority, and language, religious connections have been consistently important, creating communities of co-religionists and networks of pilgrimage and sacred geographies.  Among the more expansive religious traditions in this region we can count Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, though Hindus, Jains, Jews, Zoroastrians, Daoists, and others also play major roles.  Along with people, objects and organisms circulated across the Indian Ocean world, with major trade in metal items, spices and other specialized plant products, textiles, glass, ceramics, foodstuffs, and luxury goods.  Patterns of trade relied on locations and contexts of production, from cotton farming to manuscript illumination, and forms of consumption, elite and non-elite.  Structures of power and rule both created and responded to changes across this broad region; we consider both territorial states and empires such as the Han, Ottoman, and Mughal polities, as well as smaller trading states, confederations, and stateless zones.  The emergence of the European trading companies and, eventually, colonial possessions, after 1500 need to be understood against this background.  While the third course in this sequence explicitly deals with decolonization and challenges to colonialism, in this course we will discuss several major episodes of resistence, including the Boxer Rebellion and the Indian Revolt of 1857.   The histories of people, their products, and their movements also created distinctive physical landscapes. Environments were transformed by transported biota, from diseases to cultigens, cities and other locations were built and invested with meaning, and,  eventually, shifts toward new sources of power during the industrial revolution remade definitions of resources and distances and accelerated the transition to capitalism.

Anthropology 26201. The Logic and Practice of Archaeology.  This course offers an overview of the concepts and practice of anthropological archaeology.  We discuss the varied goals of archaeological research and consider the range of ways in which archaeologists build inferences about the past from the material record.  Throughout the quarter, the more general discussion of research logic and practice is situated in the context of detailed consideration of current archaeological projects from different parts of the world.

Environmental Studies 26510. Pollen Analysis & Paleoenvironments (Calumet Quarter). Long-term perspectives on environmental change are a necessary part of understanding contemporary patterns and processes, whether those relate to human-environment interactions, ecological relationships, or climate change. In this course we review a range of techniques used to reconstruct past environments – and consider why we might want to.
    The analysis of pollen and spores is one the best methods available for the reconstruction of past vegetation and, consequently, of patterns of climate change, plant evolution, and human impact on the environment. Pollen analysis has broad applications, ranging from geology to biology, medicine, archaeology, and environmental studies. In this class we will cover the basics of pollen analysis. The course has a dual focus, emphasizing both the conceptual basis of this method as well as the development of practical skills. Although we will be concerned with Holocene vegetation history and the impact of humans on that vegetation, concepts and lab skills learned in this class can be applied to a variety of disciplines. Initial lab exercises will prepare you for the primary focus of the course; the collection, processing, analysis, and interpretation of a wetland pollen core from the Calumet region.  I expect we’ll focus on vegetation change over the last several hundred years, but this will depend on our sample. All students will be involved in the analysis and interpretation of pollen from the samples we collect, which will culminate in an in-class research symposium.  Given the context of this year’s Calumet Quarter, we will make a special effort to examine the history of local prairies and define their pollen signatures.

Environmental Studies 27201.  Food Security and Urban Agriculture. (Calumet Quarter). Do you know where your next meal will come from? Many people around the world, and even close to home, do not. The Food and Agricultural Organization explains that food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.  Food security is thus a complex issue involving aspects of food production and distribution, poverty, buying power, and social networks, and cultural choice.  In this course we use the Calumet region as a case study to examine some aspects of the food security debate, especially the basic conceptual divide between the framework of food security, as defined by international organizations above, and the more grass-roots notion of food sovereignty.  Though we will aim for an overview of the issues, we focus this quarter more specifically on issues of agriculture and the food system, including urban agriculture, permaculture, and other challenges to the dominant industrial model.  In a region with significant economic distress and area of “food desert,” the Calumet presents examples of both challenge and response to this critical topic.

Social Sciences 23005. State and Society in India (South Asian Civilization in India  program).  This course is a wide ranging,  general introduction to Indian society, economy, culture, and politics from the early years of the British colonial period, roughly 1800 AD, to the present. Keeping in mind that there have been significant variations across time and space, and position, we will examine the contours of family life, class, caste, and gender in the colonial and postcolonial periods.  We will discuss the history of the independence movement and the major policy shifts and five-year plans of the Independence period, considering their contemporary social and political ramifications. We’ll also pay particular attention to the changing economies and politics of India, including such issues as gender, caste, communalism, and economic liberalization and globalization. The course will include lectures, structured discussions, guest lectures, and several field trips to places of interest related to the themes of the course.
    While the structure of the course is roughly chronological, we will also keep an eye on the parallel theme of place, a concept that should resonate with the final course of the sequences as well.  Using the readings and our experiences, we will consider the ongoing construction of colonial and postcolonial places such as globalized spaces, megacities (from slums to nightclubs), colonial cities (including cantonments, hill stations, and so on), towns and villages, fields and countrysides, and ‘wilderness.’  In no case are these categories without history or innocent of both power relations or material conditions; we’ll need a sense of both past and present to make sense of these changing landscapes.  The first two weeks of the course will take place in Pune, the third week in Mysore.

Anthropology 21301. Making the Natural World: the Anthropology of Ecology.  Humans have “made” the natural world both conceptually--through the creation of various ideas about nature, ecosystem, organism, and ecology--and materially, through millions of years of direct action in and on the landscape.  In this course we not only consider the conceptual underpinnings of contemporary western notions of ecology, environment, and balance, but will also examine several specific historical trajectories of anthropogenic landscape change.   Given that what we understand to be “natural,”  “cultural,” or even acceptable states or forms and rates of change can be contested, is it still possible to define the contours of a responsible environmentalism? How might an understanding of environmental history redefine the ways we view the present and the future? We approach these issues from the vantage of several different disciplinary traditions including environmental history, ecological anthropology, environmental ethics, and ecology.

Anthropology 29900. Preparation of Bachelor's Essay

Anthropology 29730. Readings: Anthropology

Combined Graduate/Undergraduate Courses

Anthropology 26505/46505. Non-Industrial Agriculture (=Environmental Studies 26505).  Agriculture is, fundamentally, a human manipulation of the environment, a deliberately maintained sucessional state designed to serve human needs and desires. In this course, we use the history of non-industrial agriculture to think through some contemporary concerns about environmental change and the sources of our food – including topics such as genetically  modified plants, fertilizers, sustainability, and invasive species.  Beginning with the origins of agriculture in the early Holocene, we examine several forms of so-called “traditional” agriculture in the tropics and elsewhere, from swidden to intensive cropping.  While the course is framed in terms of contemporary concerns, our focus is primarily historical and ethnographic, focusing on the experiences of agriculturalists over the last ten thousand years, including non-industrial farmers today.

Anthropology 28500/48200. Political Ecology (=Environmental Studies 28500). What is political ecology? Does it just add ‘nature’ and resources to politics and politics to ‘nature’ or is it, as some would argue, a fundamentally a new way of seeing? What claims does political ecology make on concepts such as nature, culture, agency, and history and why might that matter? In this course we consider these and other topics  with a particular focus on historical political ecology. Our chief concern, however, will be not what this large and diverse field claims to be, but what it actually does and potentially could do. We will consider some  conceptual underpinnings of contemporary western notions of ecology, environment, and balance, and  will also examine several specific trajectories of anthropogenic landscape change, environmental conflicts, and discourses of conservation, resource contestation, and development.

Anthropology 259/459.  South Asia Before the Buddha. This course addresses some major issues of social science and history through the experience of the prehistory and early history of South Asia.  These issues include the early cultural development of our species, the reasons for and the consequences of the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, the inception of social inequality and stratification, the transition to urbanism and the development of supraregional polities, and the institutionalization of religious traditions.  Throughout the course we wrestle with the problem of learning about the past and the construction of historical knowledge.
    In the South Asian region we can explore a rich archaeological record spanning more than a hundred thousand years.  Although it is not possible to do justice to this record in a single quarter, we will consider, in the context of South Asia, some of the major issues faced by all archaeologists.  South Asia covers a vast area that includes the present-day countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and India.  We will, of necessity, focus on what is now India and Pakistan.  The course ends with the Early Historic period, the time of early Buddhism.

Anthropology 28700/48300. The State in  India. (=Ancient Studies 26300, South Asian Languages and Civilizations 28700)  From the “classics” of the social sciences to contemporary public policy, ideas about South Asian states have often helped shape scholarly and popular understandings about the origins, roles, and forms of state power more generally. Indian states have played a role in discussions as diverse as those about “primary state origins” to notions such as “oriental despotism,” “the segmentary state,” “feudalism,” and “patrimonial states,” among others. We will examine some of these concepts in the context of a nonsystematic survey of precolonial South Asia , looking at the degree to which classic and contemporary views of state origins, operation, and definition help us to understand actual historical and archaeological information. The course will range widely from the Harappan Civilization of the third millennium BCE to the seventeenth century CE and will combine information and approaches from both archaeology and history. The course will be divided between lecture and discussion; no prior knowledge of South Asia is presumed.

Anthropology 29105. Pollen Analysis. Although this course is concerned with Holocene vegetation history and the impact of humans on that vegetation, concepts and lab skills presented can be applied to a variety of disciplines. Initial lab exercises prepare students for the primary focus of the course: the collection, processing, analysis, and interpretation of a pollen core from a local wetland. We take one weekend field trip to collect the core and observe local vegetation. Students then analyze and interpret pollen from the core, culminating in an in-class research symposium.

Anthropology 28210/48210. Colonial Ecologies (=Environmental Studies 28210). This seminar explores the historical ecology of European colonial expansion in a comparative framework, concentrating on the production of periphery and the transformation of incorporated societies and environments. In the first half of the quarter, we consider the theoretical frameworks, sources of evidence, and analytical strategies employed by researchers to address the conjunction of environmental and human history in colonial contexts. During the second half of the course, we explore the uses of these varied approaches and lines of evidence in relation to specific cases and trajectories of transformation since the sixteenth century.

Anthropology 281/381. Archaeobotanical Analysis. This class introduces the theory, method, and technique of a range of archaeobotanical analyses.  We discuss field methods in archaeobotany, sampling, presentation and interpretation of data, and specific applications such as crop processing studies, vegetation reconstruction, and fire history.  You will combine lectures and written work with lab exercises in macrobotanical (seeds, wood) and microbotanical (pollen, charcoal) analysis.   Because interpretations of archaeobotanical data are always grounded in specific contexts, we will focus throughout the quarter on material from one region, the Middle Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico, and on samples of plant material from one site, L.A. 162 or Pa’ako, a large prehistoric and contact period pueblo.  Laboratory exercises and lectures will help you to explore what can be learned from specific kinds of plant remains and, in general, how to carry out specific analyses.  However, these exercises will also be directed toward the more general goal of interpreting one aspect of the archaeobotanical record of L.A 162, which will constitute your final written effort of the term. [also taught as Anthropology 366. Advanced Analytical Methods: Archaeobotanical Analysis, a more intensive iteration taught in conjunction with the summer archaeological field school in New Mexico].

Anthropology 369. Commerce and Culture: Indian Ocean Trade in Archaeological Perspective (=Ancient Studies 246).  The Indian Ocean has been host to extensive networks of exchange and cultural interaction for at least the last 4,000 years.  These far-flung connections both grew out of and partly transformed local societies and economies; we thus need to address these networks of 'commerce and culture' in order to understand such processes as urbanism, the emergence of money, markets, and commercial production and the development and expansion of structures of state power and their interpenetration with local and regional economies.  In this course we focus primarily on the South Asian subcontinent, but will also consider to some extent its relationships with the Mediterranean, East Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and island Southeast Asia.  We will follow several strands of economic and social/political change from the period of the 'second urbanization' of the Early Historic (c. 500 BC-AD 500) up to the 11th c. AD, with a brief look ahead to the pivotal 16th c.  Although much of the source material is historical, we will place special emphasis on archaeological data and its integration/opposition with other sources of information.  Students should be willing both to work across disciplines in bringing together perspectives and to tackle primary archaeological reports.

Anthropology 299/399. Informal Course: South Asia (=South Asian Languages and Civilization 299/399). Demand-driven course based on student interest.

Anthropology 299/399. Topics in Botanical Analysis. Demand-driven course based on student interest.

Graduate Courses

Anthropology 568.  Power, Gender, Archaeology.  In this course we address some basic epistomological and methodological problems in historical enquiry, specifically what archaeologists and others interested in material culture can learn about power and gender in the past and how we do (and should) go about addressing them.  Although we discuss conceptual parameters of notions of power and gender and review their treatment in the archaeological literature, in the seminar we focus most particularly on method, critically assessing archaeological conventions and systematics, and evaluating the potential for new approaches. 

Anthropology 564. Intensification of Production. The intensification of production, as a process, has been implicated in virtually every economic ‘transition’ of interest to anthropologists, and notions about the causes, courses, and implications of the intensification of production are closely tied to a number of contemporary policy issues.  In this seminar, we will consider the following questions: What constitutes production, anyway? Can production legitimately be separated from other economic and non-economic activities (what is economic?)? How is production organized and how can it change? What is intensification, how is it manifest, how does it occur, and why? Does (how does) intensification implicate other changes such as social stratification, specialization, changing power relations, and environmental degradation? Are there consistent patterns of cause and/or process, or is each situation idiosyncratic? We will tackle these question using literature from economic anthropology and archaeology, with brief excursions into economics and the literature of agricultural development.  Although we will cover craft production, the primary emphasis in the readings will be on agriculture, the ‘poster child’ of the intensification process. Our investigation will led us into a number of related debates about the notion of ‘peasant’ and ‘household’ economies, social stratification and inequality, irrigation and power, and population pressure.  Coverage is eclectic rather than systematic

Anthropology 563. The Archaeology of Empires. In this course we will be concerned with conceptions of expansive polities, with their dynamics, variety, operation, structure, and with the consequences for those incorporated into or otherwise affected by preindustrial empires.  Although we focus on the materiality of empires as it is manifest in architecture, art, and other archaeological remains, our perspective is necessarily broadly anthropological and historical.  We consider both “ancient” and “Early Modern” empires (and examine the ways in which such a distinction has been constructed) and explore whether or not processual and comparative understandings of imperialism and colonialism are possible.

Anthropology 561. Holocene Hunting and Gathering: Colonial, Anthropological, and Conservationist Constructions. This seminar examines the histories of groups living at the economic and political margins of complex political economies and investigates the construction of those histories in terms of archaeological and anthropological systematics as well as colonial and postcolonial law. We ask how people classified as foragers, hunter-gatherers, indigenous people, or ‘tribals’ come to be so classified and what roles they may play in the structure and logic of local, national and international societies. Peoples who hunt and gather, whatever else they may do have had a special salience in the construction of neoevolutionary theories, colonial governance, and contemporary environmental and human rights movements.
Anthropology 39001-02. Archaeological Theory/Method. PQ: Required for first-and second-year graduate students in archaeology; open to undergraduates only with consent of instructor; this course carries 200 units of credit. This course provides an intensive critical orientation to the logics of archaeological interpretation and aesthetics of archaeographic representation from the 19th century to the present. Students will engage in close readings of canonical theoretical texts in order to track the major philosophical shifts in the discipline from its antiquarian origins through postmodernity. Simultaneously, we will examine the reports from a group of landmark research projects in order to document how theory was put into practice. In addition to lectures and discussion sessions, students will conduct a series of debates intended to expose the central tenets underlying the primary paradigm shifts of the last century.

Anthropology 52210.  Archaeological Research Design. This is an intensive and practical introduction to designing archaeological research projects including project design, grant proposals, budgeting, analysis and publication.  Here archaeological research includes work on textual materials, ethnography, oral history, and/or anthropogenic landscapes alongside the study of material culture. While we will structure the course around mastering the genre and craft of proposal-writing, this exercise is simply one aspect of designing significant,  interesting, and achievable research. Students who have not yet passed their qualifying exams will be admitted only with permission.

Anthropology 6130. Reading/Research Anthropology

Courses in Development
Archaeologies of Food and Cuisine. (undergraduate).  Food is fundamental to both human production and reproduction but not everything that is edible is considered to be food.  What is defined as food is the outcome of a set of practices at once quotidian and ceremonial, both biologically necessary and culturally elaborated. Food is both a cultural and a physical substance, essential to life. Studies of food production generally focus on agriculture, animal husbandry, foraging, and even marketing and shopping, while eliding the transformative process of cooking itself. The difference between the potentially edible and food is very often created through the act of cooking, the vital, yet archaeologically and historically neglected process of rendering potential foodstuffs edible, accessible, and appropriate. Cuisines represent formalized and codified modes of food production and, as such, allow us to consider the ways in which food practices index difference in terms of social position, political power, gender, age, and ethnicity. Using a range of archaeological and historical case studies, we will investigate how scholars have studied food and food practices in the past, what foodways tell us about larger social situations, and examine the role of inequality, nationalism, globalization, migration, and other processes on the historical development and elaboration of cusine. 

Environmental Conflict in South Asia. (mixed graduate/undergraduate) Contemporary environmental conflicts in South Asia can be difficult to understand without historical framing in terms of colonial and postcolonial governance, regional ecological regimes, and social configurations.  In this course we examine three potent arenas of conflict today: (1) the construction of big dam systems for power and irrigation, (2) flooding, displacement, and land tenure on South Asia’s massive river deltas, and (3) forest rights, human-wildlife conflicts, and the problems of South Asia’s ‘tribal’ populations. Although we need to understand both politics and ecologies, these conflicts also require us to examine histories, cultures, and imaginations surrounding concepts of risk, livelihood, equity, and what it means to be human.

Industrial Agriculture.  (mixed graduate/undergraduate).  Although agriculture has always been an arena of genetic manipulation of other species, from grasses to caprines, from the ‘Green Revolution’ onwards the nature of this intervention as well as its pace of change has changed rapidly.  Now, some 70 years since dwarf wheat was first planted in Mexico, industrialized forms of have come to be seen as “conventional” agriculture.  In this course we consider how the industrial production of plants and animals is organized and the role these industries play in contemporary food systems, politics, international aid, and the environment. Finally, we consider some recent challenges to industrial agriculture in the form of animal rights movements, alternative farming, and anti-GMO agitations. Non-industrial Agriculture is a recommended companion course.

Isotopes in Archaeology. (graduate). Archaeologists rely on both radioactive and stable isotope analysis without, however, usually understanding how either works in much detail.  While this is not an analysis course, we will briefly discuss how analysts measure both kinds of isotopic ratios and go over the basics of isotope chemistry. No special preparation is required.  Most of the course focused on archaeological applications. Radioactive isotopes are important for dating; we will discuss the limits of different techniques (such as 14C, 210Pb) and learn how to carry out the newer forms of Bayesian and stratigraphically-constrained analysis of radiocarbon and other dates. Stable isotope ecology presents a wide range of possibilities for archaeology, including studies of diet and trophic levels, migration and movement, climate and vegetation change, trade and exchange, and analysis of agriculture, irrigation and crop practice. We will explore the recent concept of ‘isoscapes’ and consider how archaeology might make better use of the rich range of possibilities presented by isotopic analysi