Courses Taught

Spring 2020 courses that I’m teaching.  Please contact me with questions!

  • NELC 5204, “Culture & Politics in Central Asia”
    • Central Asia. Explore an understudied but globally significant region at the nexus of Islamic revival, post-communist democratization, Eurasian geopolitics & security, vast energy reserves, and millennia of historical connection with world markets and culture.
    • About the size of Western Europe, Central Asia sits at the juncture of the Turkic, Persian, Russian, Chinese, and Indian worlds, but was almost unseen by outsiders before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is the land of the “stans”: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, and northwest China (Xinjiang).
    • We will look at Central Asia under and after Soviet-Russian rule, focusing on 20thcentury through recent developments in culture, society, politics, and everyday life.  Topics include its rapid modernization, experience under communism, changing role of women, the state creation of ethnicity, distinctiveness of its Islam, and recent post-Soviet trends in the region after 9/11 and the emergence of neighbor China.
    • The format is seminar, with lecturing.  Course materials center around in-depth analyses of a few books, articles, and in-class films. Course requirements include: writing 2 drafts of a term paper, presenting your paper to the class, leading class discussion once, writing a short book review, and activeparticipation throughout the course.


Autumn 2020

  • Anthropology 2241 / NELC 2241, “The Middle East Close-Up: People, Societies, Cultures” (GE)  

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    • What is life in the Middle East today like? How are deep traditions and religious faith lived out in places like Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Turkey? How does family & community life give us insight into big questions of politics, societal problems, global trends, and terrorism? Can Middle Eastern values co-exist with ideals of human rights, freedoms, & democracy?
    • This is an introduction to the Muslims of Middle East from the ground level. It’s about how ordinary people live, think, and act. We’ll get acquainted with the region through ethnographic (cultural anthropology) articles, one book, newspaper articles, and films that provide fascinating windows on different life worlds. Students of all majors welcome. Open to ALL undergraduate students!

Autumn 2020

  • Comparative Studies 7360, “Theorizing Culture”     

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    • What is “culture” and is the concept useful to understanding what people do, say, and think? Is it to be located in ideas, in materiality, in discourse, or in practice/performance? We will think about how the cultural dimensions of human existence are variously involved with tactics of power; with conflations of race, nation, and territoriality; with shaping agency and articulating voice; with universalistic claims and particular politics. Readings are centered on ethnographies that plumb specific cases and simultaneously theorize subjectivity, knowledge, representation, gender, identity, embodiment, space, networks, colonialism, complexity, the state, the global, etc.
    • We will consider these case studies with respect to perspectives from cultural anthropology, human geography, linguistic anthropology, urban studies, cultural studies, science studies, history, political science, and sociology. Students from all disciplines are very welcome in this course. The central position of the class is your semester-long essay on a topic of your choice (perhaps a piece for your future thesis) in light of perspectives of the course. The course’s seminar/lecture format involves close engagement among students and with me. There will be a mini-conference where students present their own work to the class for feedback.  Prereq: Grad standing or permission of instructor. 




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