Anthropology of the Environment. Duke University. Spring 2018.
Given the mounting threats posed by global climate change, nature itself has become the subject of heated political debate. In this class we will interrogate what it is that we call “nature” and who gets to decide. We will explore the question: How, when, and for whom does nature come to matter, and why? Using both classical and contemporary anthropological texts, students will problematize the ways individuals, communities, governments, and international institutions have come to imagine, produce, and protect the environment. From the swampy waters of the Florida Everglades to the dense forests of the Amazon jungle; from the front lawn to the industrial mine, in this course you will explore the ways in which environments comes to have culture and the ways nature itself is imagined and constructed by diverse peoples around the world. Course materials will include scholarly articles, ethnographic monographs, as well as film, podcasts, and more. Students will have the opportunity to think about the ethics of environmental activism today and how their newly acquired knowledge about the social construction of nature can help address the threats posed by climate change.
Culture and Politics of Latin America: Duke University. Spring 2017.
In this course, students will learn about the rich, yet often violent, historical processes that have and continue to shape life across Latin America. Through an attention to representation, power, knowledge, and historical processes, we will ask, how is it that what “we” think of as Latin America today came into being in the first place? This class is not a survey course of the entirety of Latin America and its history. Rather, students will acquire a set of tools for asking questions about this region. For example, we will discuss the power of the geographic imagination through the lens of 19th century Mexican map-makers and 21st century soy bean farmers in rural Paraguay. In this class, we will look at many different sources, including scholarly texts, short-stories, films, visual art, and poetry, to ask questions about how ways of thinking about the region have changed over time. Through a focus on how knowledge and power have operated, and continue to operate, on the natures, bodies, and stories told about “Latin America,” students will leave this class with a lens that will allow them to think about the range of factors affecting the peoples who call Latin America home.