ANTH5045W: Urban Anthropology

3 CreditsEnvironmentWriting Intensive

This class explores anthropological approaches to urban life. On one hand, the course examines the ontological nature of the city by looking into the relation between cities and their environment, and asking whether and how people differentiate "urban" and "non-urban" spaces. It uncovers the social practices and behaviors that define urban life; urban-rural distinctions; the material and ecological processes that constitute cities; and popular representations of city and/or countryside. On the other hand, the course investigates the spatial and social divisions of the city, seeking to understand the historical struggles and ongoing processes that both draw together and differentiate the people of an urban environment. It studies how cities influence political decision-making, contributing to the uneven distribution of power and resources. It considers: industrialization; urban class conflict; gendered and racialized spaces; and suburbanization. Both of these approaches will also critically consider the city as a social object that we encounter and learn about through our engagement with kinds of media, such as novels and film. Hence, reading for the class will include literature from the social sciences and humanities, as well as critical works of fiction.Students will engage with these broader anthropological issues through an investigation of several global cities, especially Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Paris, Mexico City, Brasilia, and New Delhi. The class mixes lecture, discussion, and guided research. Lectures will introduce the history of urbanism and urban anthropology. Discussions will critically evaluate the readings, and offer insights and examples to better understand them. By participating in a guided research project, students will uncover hidden aspects of their own city, using ethnography or archaeology to shed light on the urban environment, social struggles over space, or other themes.

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All Instructors

B+ Average (3.444)Most Common: B (38%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

13 students
  • 4.73


  • 4.33


  • 4.74


  • 4.74


  • 4.83



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