Recent Courses

Offered in Spring 2022

ANTH 346: Anthropological Approaches to Capitalism [Sophomore Seminar]

Anthropologists study capitalism as a social and cultural phenomenon. Some of the topics we will touch on in this course include: farm and factory production; perceptions of time and space in capitalist societies; consumption and shopping; globalization; gender and capitalism; and the trading of stocks, bonds, and currencies on global financial markets. We will not approach these topics as elements of an abstract system called “capitalism” that we can know or define in advance. Rather, we will study them as historically situated social and cultural formations, inquiring first and foremost into peoples’ lives and experiences in specific times and places.

Through a variety of detailed case studies and our own research, we will gradually ask what, if anything, “capitalism” shares across different social, cultural, and historical contexts. Is it better to think of many individual capitalist societies or of a global capitalist system? What is capitalism after all? Is it as natural a way of organizing the world as it often appears to us?

This is a seminar-style class with a focus on discussion of assigned readings. In the latter two-thirds of the semester, students will work in small groups to complete their own original ethnographic study of capitalism, including interviews around Yale and/or the New Haven area.

This course is open to Yale College sophomores only, and does not assume any familiarity with Anthropology.

ANTH 642: Histories and Ethnographies of the Corporation

Graduate seminar.

Offered in Fall 2021

ANTH 438/638: Culture, Power, Oil

This advanced seminar applies recent developments in social and cultural theory to the general topic of oil. Topics to be considered include the multinational oil industry; production and local communities; consumption and “oil addiction,” “petrostates”; empire; cultural performance; conceptions of nature, money, and modernity; representations of oil in film; and discussions of “peak oil.” After some introductory reading, we will begin exploring theoretically informed case studies situated in various parts of the world. The case studies gradually become more open ended; instead of developed arguments, we will read more “raw” data (about the US Gulf Coast, for instance) and apply our knowledge from earlier cases.


Offered in Fall 2020

ANTH 140 / SOCY 138 / ER&M 241: The Corporation

This class introduces students to significant topics in the study of the modern capitalist corporation, using a variety of sources, methods, and case studies drawn from both humanistic and social science traditions of inquiry. By the end of the course, students should have an extensive toolkit of approaches with which to discuss and understand the role of corporations around the world and in historical and contemporary contexts. Topics covered include: colonial and post-colonial corporations; production, exchange, and consumption; corporations and gender, race, and indigeneity; anti-corporate critique and response; “corporate cultures;” and others.




Selected past (and possibly future) courses:

The Anthropology of the Material World (co-taught with archaeologist Anne Underhill)
The Production and Consumption of Culture
Anthropology and Classical Social Theory
Socialisms and Postsocialisms
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
The Anthropology of Religion and Secularism