Jessica A. Johnson
Critical examination of the intersections between anthropology, research on gender issues, and feminism. Readings and class discussions examine the ways women have been represented in the field of anthropology and the repercussions of these anthropological images of women on contemporary understandings of gender. Offered: jointly with GWSS 353.
The primary aim of this course is to investigate intersections between anthropology, gender studies, and feminist interventions in these fields. To explore these relationships, students will critically examine ethnographic representations of women published during the last three decades to consider how feminist anthropologists have inspired methodological shifts in the discipline. During this inquiry, students will use critical race, feminist, and queer theory to analyze ethnographic narratives, exploring how 'woman' as an identity category is constructed and contested by accounts of the experiences of women in various geographic, political, and cultural contexts. Throughout this course, we will ask how empirical studies of women are shaped by research questions and methods. Concurrently, we will analyze how anthropologists depict gender as negotiated in relation to racial, national, and sexual identifications; processes of political economy; religious beliefs and practices; social activism; motherhood; notions of femininity and masculinity.
Student learning goals
Students will examine how cultural understandings and representations of women are produced and destabilized in ethnographic studies. During this investigation students will: 1) gain an understanding of ethnographic methods as a tool for considering the formation and narration of identities; 2) learn how to apply these methods through a critical lens, including considerations of ethics, representations of subjects, and interpretations of stories; 3) cultivate dialogue about the diversity of experiences in local communities.
General method of instruction
This class is a reading intensive seminar. Thoughtful contributions to discussion are vital to understanding the material and will greatly enhance everyone's learning experience.
Class assignments and grading
Students will write 4 response papers of 2-3 pages in length on our key ethnographic texts using the following prompts: 1) what is the anthropologist's primary research question and thesis? 2) What are the general arguments of her study? 3) What are her research methods? How does she use these methods to shape her examination? 4) What presuppositions are at work in the book, what are its weaknesses and strengths? In these papers, students will use concepts and theoretical discussions from supplementary articles to further their analysis.
For their final research paper, students will conduct an interview and discuss its process (e.g., devising questions, ethical considerations, their relationship with their interview partner before and during their conversation, setting) in addition to analyzing their data using a grounded theory approach.
Class Participation 20% Response Papers 40% Final Paper 40%