Special Topics & Advanced Seminars

Special Topics Courses for *2021-22* Register Now!

ANTC88: Special Topics 

"Education, Power, and Potential: Anthropological Perspectives and Ethnographic Insights" (Instructor: M. Cummings)

What does it mean to get an education?  What are the consequences of getting (or not getting) a “good education”? What counts as a good education, anyway? For whom? Who decides? Why does it matter? How are different kinds of education oriented toward different visions of the future? What might we learn about a particular cultural context if we explore education and learning as social processes and cultural products linked to specific cultural values, beliefs, and power dynamics?  These are just some of the questions we will explore in this course.  Overall, students will gain a familiarity with the anthropology of education through an exploration of ethnographic cases studies from a variety of historical and cultural contexts.  

This will be an online, asynchronous course.  For each week of the course, there will be a list of required tasks to be completed: including watching a lecture and/or other relevant media, completing readings, and participating in a discussion forum. There will also be an OPTIONAL weekly “live” meeting (not a lecture; just to “touch base” and ask questions) as well (day and time to be determined). Students will submit all assessments, including exams, online. 


ANTD07H3: Advanced Regional Seminar

"The Mediterranean: Cultures, Histories, and Mobilities"  (Instructor: A. Sorge)

This course examines the societies of the Mediterranean region from a comparative perspective, and will be structured around the review of some central themes in study of culture within the region. We will consider cultural patterns characteristic of the Mediterranean as manifested within family structures, settlement and land use, economic production, worldviews, and belief systems. Our survey will focus on a number of case studies, but will do so with particular attention to the Mediterranean Sea as such; that is, the region will be examined as a site of historical commonalities born of shared ecological adaptations as well as a history of encounters and communication across spaces of cultural and religious difference. We counterpoise this approach with commonplace assumptions about continental boundedness, offering a critique of the contemporary European border regime, and in so doing engage a postcolonial vision of the Mediterranean Sea as composed of intertwined cultural and civilizational identities forged across millennia.


ANTC69H3: Ideas That Matter: Key Themes and Thinkers in Anthropology

"Deception, Deceit, and Dishonesty: The Anthropology of Things that are Not as They Seem"  (Instructor: A. Sorge)

This course examines the oft-noted distinction in social life between appearance and reality, and between the way people ought to behave with the way they really do. Deception, deceit, lying, fraud, fakery, concealment, hypocrisy, and corruption: “Truth” has many inversions, all of them speaking to the complexity of human behaviour as we go about creating and sustaining the fictions of day-to-day life. Via a comparative exploration of ethnographic case studies, this course assesses the insights that Anthropology has offered into the dynamics of rule-bending, duplicity, and trickery – objects of frequent disapprobation that manifest in countless ways across space and time. The course begins with an overview of some foundational perspectives on human behaviour, onto which we shine the light of ethnographic evidence on the way to coming to terms with the methodological implications of our propensity to rule breaking, especially as it relates to the distinction between theory and practice in social life and thus to the paradoxes and contradictions of culture. We conclude with a reflection on the proliferation in our contemporary political landscape of various forms of deception that offend normative conceptions of “truth,” and seek to shed some light on recent debates about our “post-truth” culture that is marked by frequent talk of “fake news” and “alternative facts.”


Previous Academic Years:

ANTD40H3 Topics in Emerging Scholarship in Evolutionary Anthropology

"Human, Animal, Pathogen and Heritage: Anthropological Perspectives on Physical, Cultural and Social Distancing (Instructor: A. Alaica)"

This course will explore anthropological perspectives on the processes that impact social, cultural and physical distancing. With our recent circumstances of isolation, the class will provide opportunities for students to explore processes that push human populations together and those that pull them apart. Along with course readings and class discussion, the course will provide an intellectual and cathartic setting for students to deconstruct how human societies have transformed in the past and continue to develop in the present.


ANTD15H3 Frontiers of Socio-Cultural Anthropology

“Engaging the Archive” (Instructor: K. Kilroy-Marac)

What kinds of things – stories and narratives, art objects and installations, historical accounts, speculative future radical imaginaries – do scholars, writer, and artists create from archives (and their silences)? What methodologies do they follow, and what kinds of ethical commitments guide their work? In this course, we will center feminist, queer POC, Black, and indigenous archival and archive-making practices that challenge archival power in order to reimagine past, present and future. Alongside our readings, discussion and speaker presentations, students will themselves engage in processes of creative production, both by consulting and building their own archive.


ANTD41H3 Topics in Emerging Scholarship in Socio-Cultural Anthropology

“Madness and Badness: Anthropology of Insanity, Criminality, and Confinement” (Instructor: L. Beech)

Who determines what insanity looks like? How do societies deal with crime? How is the line between normal and abnormal imagines, articulated and (re)produced? Anthropological studies reveal that what constitutes “abnormality” is far from universal. Deviance is conceptualized, experience, and addressed differently in communities around the world. In this course, we will unsettle the often taken-for-granted categories of “madness” (insanity) and “badness” (criminality), critically assessing ideas of mental illness, irrationality, illegality and moral corruption.

Link to Calendar



Summer 2020

ANTC88H3 S - Topics in Popular Hinduism
Vincent Brillant-Giroux - vincent.brillant.giroux@utoronto.ca

Course Abstract

This course explores the diversity of religioius experiences and daily life practices of popular Hinduism, as they relate to ritual, ancestors, pilgrimage, possession, and new religious movements, and by taking into account issues of castes, politics and globalization.