Daniel J Hoffman
Delineation and analysis of a specific problem or related problems in anthropology. Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty.
Anthropology of the City: The Past and Future of Urban Life
Today, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities. Urbanization may therefore be the most important factor in defining the contemporary human experience. But this is not new. The city is an ancient form of collective life, and throughout history cities have helped define what it means to be social and what it means to be human. But what exactly is a city? How do urban spaces evolve, and how do cities differ across cultural contexts? What social processes produce a city, and what social processes does a city produce? How do we represent the unique experiences of urban living? How do we research the lives of cities and those who inhabit them – past, present, and future? In this course we will answer these questions by drawing on both scholarly and popular treatments of life in the city. We will look to both the archeological record and contemporary ethnography for clues as to what drives people to build urban spaces and, in some cases, destroy them. We will explore what these various forms of evidence can tell us about how human beings inhabit urban zones through time and across space. We will look at novels, graphic art and film depictions of urban space to understand the way cities are imagined, and ask how these imaginings help us cope with the city as we find it and as we attempt to shape the cities of the future.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This course is a joint offering ANTH 469/ARCHY 469 and will be co-taught by Peter Lape (Archeology) and Danny Hoffman (SocioCultural Anthropology).
Class assignments and grading