Anthropology is the global and holistic study of human biology and behaviour, and includes four subfields: biological anthropology, archaeology, sociocultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology. The material covered is directed to answering the question: What makes us human? This course is a survey of biological anthropology and archaeology.
Anthropology is the global and holistic study of human biology and behaviour, and includes four subfields: biological anthropology, archaeology, sociocultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology. The material covered is directed to answering the question: What makes us human? This course is a survey of sociocultural and linguistic anthropology. In some years, students may have the option of participating in an international learning experience during Reading Week that will have an additional cost and application process.
Archaeological theory, method and technique. Principles of scientific research will be applied to archaeological information. The course will cover the following topics: how archaeology applies the scientific method; how archaeological projects are planned and organized; how archaeological data are recovered through survey, excavation and other means; how archaeological data are organized and analyzed to produce information about the human past; the major theoretical paradigms that archaeologists use to interpret the human past.
Archaeological survey of human cultural development from a global perspective, including: the elaboration of material culture; the expansion of social inequality; the development of diverse food procurement (hunter-gatherer-fisher) and food production (herding-agricultural) economies; and the changes in patterns of mobility over time and between world areas, with the growth of village and city life. Students will engage with the current state of archaeological research and some of the major issues archaeologists address in their recreations of archaeologically-based human history.
Biological anthropology deals with the diversity and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives, and how they have adapted to their environments. This course will introduce students to basic concepts of human genetics and Mendelian inheritance. The course will also describe the biological and evolutionary factors that have produced the fascinating diversity observed in human populations, and illustrate different ways in which humans have adapted to their environments.
Biological anthropology deals with the diversity and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives, and how they have adapted to their environments. This course will introduce students to the remarkable biological diversity of our taxonomic order: the primates. The course will also discuss the rich fossil evidence for human evolution and its interpretation.
A general introductory course emphasizing social and political organization, economics, and the development of theory. Specific cases of social dynamics are drawn from both traditional and contemporary societies.
Introduction to the field of forensic anthropology. Outlines the areas in which forensic anthropologists may contribute to a death investigation and introduces basic concepts relating to the recovery and analysis of human remains.
Introduction to linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics. This includes: the issue of meaning in language, the use of language in context, the role of language in the organization of human activity, language and identity, the sequential organization of talk-in-interaction.
The question of what it means to be human has been at the core of anthropology for over two centuries, and it remains as pressing now as it ever was. This course introduces students to some classic attempts at addressing this question with specific reference to the nature of personhood and social life. By engaging with the writings of Marx, Weber, Freud, and DeBeauvoir among other great thinkers of the modern age, students will develop deeper knowledge of the major theories guiding anthropological research. We will pay close attention to how arguments are constructed in these texts and focus on the methodologies that these pioneers of social thought developed in their inquiries. The course covers enduring topics ranging from the production of social inequality, what it means to be an individual, how collective life is shaped by economic markets, and the role of religion in shaping human experience, to develop an understanding of central issues facing the world today.
This course will introduce students to culture and social theory via the lens of popular culture. Commodities, advertising, and new technologies will be considered in light of their cultural content. The course may consider the marketing of identities, gender, sexualities, bodies, ethnicity, religion, and ideology, as well as resistance.
This course explores how anthropology approaches the study of various interventions into human life and society. These forms of intervention--nation building, human rights, and development--differ in the scale and scope of their projects and in what they hope to accomplish. They also have much in common. Each is explicitly concerned with improving the conditions under which people live, and yet each has also been criticized for making things worse rather than better. This course will explore why this might be the case by focusing on examples taken from around the world.
Have you ever wondered why television programs like Ancient Aliens are so popular or if they have any merit? Have you also wondered why outrageous ideas about the human past seem to be more popular than the message science presents? This course critically evaluates the anatomy of significant hoaxes, outrageous claims, and just plain old "bad archaeology" in popular culture. Students will develop the tools to critically evaluate potential hoaxes and fictional accounts of the past by investigating a wide variety of cases that range from attempts to rewrite history using fake discoveries, to the simply outrageous claims created in order to promote racist agendas, to make money, or just for the fun of duping an unsuspecting public.
This course provides an introduction to the evolutionary significance of mating behaviours and sexual reproduction in modern humans. Students will explore human sexual behaviour with an emphasis on the evolutionary explanations for our mating strategies in relation to other primates. Through lectures, films and readings students will examine such topics as sexual selection, anatomy, sexual development, social organization, and mating patterns.
Who am I? This course gives a sociocultural anthropological answer to this question by focusing on culture as a fundamental means by which humans make society. In particular, it considers how the symbolic systems through which humans conceptualise the world and communicate with one another play a fundamental role in defining identity (who you are) and difference (who you aren't). Through cross-cultural comparison, the course shows how the identities and differences we often consider 'natural' - sex, gender, age, race, ethnicity and others - are in fact the product of culture and society. Thus, who you are is a question that must be answered in relation to categories others will recognise and allow you to be.
This course explores human food use and nutrition from a broad anthropological perspective. It examines archaeological evidence of dietary patterns of human ancestors and examines contemporary phenomena such as the preference for sweetness and lactase persistence that are the legacy of ancestral adaptations. It explores significant food revolutions, from the origins of agriculture to the relatively recent phenomenon of biotechnological food production and looks at both the positive and negative effects of these changes on patterns of human growth and health. The goal of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of nutrition science that is contextualized in contemporary anthropological debates about the costs of changing food systems.
Few questions are more obviously important than that which Socrates poses in Plato's Republic: "how should one live?" This course considers the various ways this question has been asked and the answers it has received across a range of very different contexts. It begins with Socrates' address to the Athenian assembly in The Apology and his conclusion that the examined life is the only one worth living. We then turn to the Greek past and the Homeric background against which the reflective life, that Socrates exemplified, stood in stark contrast. With this background in place we will proceed to consider the various ways in which the question of how one should live has been answered across of a range of social settings. Drawing on ethnography as well journalism and documentary film we will consider, for instance, Rastafarianism, Jainism, living "off-grid" in North America, deaf communities in the US, transgenderism, and non-binary gender identity.
This course will explore anthropological approaches to the study of various forms of illegal activities. Denaturalizing the state-imposed categories of legality and illegality, the course will examine how the legal-illegal divide is constructed contingently, and unpack moralities, inequalities, precarities, and forms of politics that illegal activities both rely on and make possible. The course will bring together recent ethnographies of racketeering, gang violence, piracy, human trafficking and contraband smuggling from different world regions.
The course is designed to introduce the key concepts, issues, and methods of legal anthropology as a specific field of study in relation to the larger history of the discipline. The course will explore how anthropological works understand and examine the legal and social orders, political and normative authorities, frames of rights, regimes of crime and punishment, and forms of justice-seeking. Accounting for different understandings of law and everyday legal practices, the course readings include canonical texts of legal anthropology as well as recent ethnographies of law.
This course is a quest for the secret of human uniqueness. The success of Homo sapiens, has been described as "a spectacular evolutionary anomaly" that has resulted in human domination of the Earth's biosphere. We will use the comparative method to journey through the Animal Kingdom in hopes of discovering the preadaptive elements that enabled such incredible evolutionary success. On our way we will survey chimpanzee warfare, tool using octopuses, eusocial ants, and night-time hunter-gatherer sentinels - all of which will allow us to better understand the forces that shaped unparalleled cooperative networks in humans. Finally, we will investigate the cognitive and behavioural blessings and curses associated with the drive to belong to a group. The goal of the course is to equip students with a greater understanding of the human condition - and how to leverage this understanding to improve their lives.
“How do we know what we know?” is a question that has long concerned anthropologists. And in a world like ours – where “fake news,” religious credos and conspiracy theories coexist with common sense, mainstream media and scientific truth(s) – the question seems more important than ever. This course explore anthropological insights into knowledge and the question of how we know. To do so we will examine a range of contemporary knowledge-making activities which may include surveillance, witchcraft, conspiracy, governance, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.
This course introduces students to the many strategies anthropologists use to understand patterns of health and disease in human populations through time. It will serve as an entry point into the Anthropology of Health focus and will be a prerequisite for later courses in Growth and Development, Infectious Disease, and the Advanced Seminar in the Anthropology of Health. In this course, the concept of health is examined using bioarchaeology, biomedicine, medical anthropology, and epidemiology. The course examines evolutionary, epigenetic, and life history approaches to understanding chronic disease risk in human populations, culminating in an investigation of the role of poverty and social inequality on disease burden. Although the course is designed as an introduction to the Health focus, it is suitable for students seeking training in pre-health disciplines and is open to all students possessing the necessary prerequisites.
The ultimate question that all life is bound to ask is: how do I survive? Our species, evolved a uniquely human answer, which led to our ascendance as the most dominant on the planet but at what cost? This course explores a central human paradox: how altruism, community, kindness, and war and genocide are all driven by the same core adaptation. We'll call this the Trust Paradox and the evolution of this suite of traits, best described as coalitionary cognition, is one of the most complex and ancient in our species. We will explore how this, often imperceptible drive, is responsible for our capacity for both cooperation and competition, and allowed us to navigate increasingly complex social landscapes. But in our vast modern world, has this blessing become a curse?
This course will examine the relationship between the field of anthropology and Indigenous people of Turtle Island. We will examine the past, present, and future manifestations of this relationship. This course will emphasize Indigenous, decolonial, and community scholars. Students will be encouraged to think critically and reflect on their own world views.
This courses provides a richly rewarding opportunity for students in their second year to work in the research project of a professor in return for 299H5 course credit. Students enrolled have an opportunity to become involved in original research, learn research methods and share in the excitement and discovery of acquiring new knowledge. Based on the nature of the project, projects may satisfy the Sciences or Social Sciences distribution requirement. Participating faculty members post their project descriptions for the following summer and fall/winter sessions in early February and students are invited to apply in early March. See Experiential and International Opportunities for more details.
This courses provides a richly rewarding opportunity for students in their second year to work in the research project of a professor in return for 299Y course credit. Students enrolled have an opportunity to become involved in original research, learn research methods and share in the excitement and discovery of acquiring new knowledge. Based on the nature of the project, projects may satisfy the Sciences or Social Sciences distribution requirement. Participating faculty members post their project descriptions for the following summer and fall/winter sessions in early February and students are invited to apply in early March. See Experiential and International Opportunities for more details.
Cultural Heritage Management, also known as cultural resource management or applied archaeology, aims to protect traces of the past such as artifacts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes, that have meaning for people in the present. This course takes a broad look at cultural heritage, why it matters in the present, and why we need to preserve aspects of it for the future. Topics may include stakeholders and the politics of the past, mechanisms for the protection of heritage and archaeological sites, the heritage management industry, and the methods used to identify, document, and mitigate impacts to archaeological sites, and to preserve the materials recovered.
Introduction to the field of forensic anthropological field techniques and scene interpretation. A 2-week field school will be held on the U of T Mississauga campus (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., two weeks in August). Weekly 2-hour classes will be held during the fall term. In these classes, students will examine casts, maps, photos and other evidence collected in the field, for the purposes of scene reconstruction and presentation in court. Limited Enrolment and Application Process: see Anthropology department website for more details.
Today most people live in state-level societies. But 8,000 years ago, no one did. Why such a dramatic change? This comparative analysis of ancient, complexly organized societies is focused on understanding the processes involved in the functioning of states, examining how various political, social, economic, and religious orientations affected state information, cohesion, maintenance and dissolution. What were the range of alternatives explored in the earliest and later complexly organized societies that developed around the world?
This course will introduce the process of archaeological research, from project design through report write-up. The student will create a project proposal, choose methods of survey and excavation, describe and organize data for analysis, and summarize findings in a project report.