Amazonia is a vital nexus for planetary survival. This course focuses on the world's largest tropical forest and the ancestral home of over one million indigenous peoples, now threatened by deforestation and megafires. Further degradation will have disastrous consequences for its peoples, biodiversity, rainfall and agriculture, and global climate change. Combining perspectives from the social sciences and the humanities, we will critically examine projects to colonize, develop, and conserve the Amazon over time and reflect on the agency of indigenous peoples, maroon and riverbank communities and their creative modes of existence.
Archives shape the stories we tell about the past. Blending fiction and fact, history conditions how archives are constructed and read. This course thinks past conventional modes of knowledge production to reimagine the use and interpretation of archival documents at Firestone Library, the Princeton University Art Museum and elsewhere. Students acquire their own methods by attending to questions of Indigenous sovereignty, access, archival silences, and traces of what Marisa Fuentes calls "dispossessed lives." We expand sites of knowledge production beyond the archive to the land itself. Archival reimagining shifts understanding of the past.
This course is designed to explore how centering Black and Native/Indigenous feminist epistemologies (ways of knowing), theories, methods, themes, cultural production, and decolonial and abolitionist struggle reorient the field of American Studies. If we orient American Studies around and through Black and Native/Indigenous gendered, sexualized, feminist and queer modes of survival and ingenuity; what themes, debates, and questions rise to the surface and become salient?
Students study the agency of media and data in human cultural and social life with an emphasis on the generation of differences and inequalities. We excavate assumptions beneath representations of reality in documentary film, track the circulation of mass media across cultures, watch indigenous filmmakers as cultural producers, and explore the datafication of media and experience. We carry out our analyses by using the tools for making media and data to break them apart. Looking closely at their individual elements, we can view media and data as cultural constructions as well as use them to produce alternative images and counter-narratives.
From the US-backed dictatorships of the Cold War, to contemporary examples of state violence, many Latin Americans have experienced grave human rights violations. At the same time however, activists in the region have propelled significant international human rights advances. Examining concepts and cases from the anthropology of human rights, this course explores questions of rights as they affect Indigenous peoples, women, gay and lesbian populations, migrants, the urban poor, and children. By analyzing these cases, we will gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and risks facing the future of human rights in the Latin America.
How can literature and film bring to life ideals of environmental justice and the lived experience of environmental injustice? This seminar will explore how diverse communities across the globe are unequally exposed to risks like climate change and toxicity and how communities have unequal access to the resources vital to sustaining life. Issues we will address include: climate justice, the Anthropocene, water security, deforestation, the commons, indigenous movements, the environmentalism of the poor, the gendered and racial dimensions of environmental justice, and the imaginative role of film makers and writer-activists.
Do plants think? Do forests have a language? Are our bodies separate from the environment? Are we substantially different from what we once called "nature"? Such questions have been emerging in philosophy and literature, bringing to light new forms of knowledge that are both integrative and holistic. This seminar will discuss the visual arts, literature and musical experiments produced by thinkers (Indigenous or otherwise) who can help us imagine a planet where, differently from our current world, we may still be able to survive.
This course invites students to study Teotihuacan, Mexico, the largest urban development of American antiquity. It considers this city's art history and archaeology over six weeks, to culminate in a 1-week fieldtrip to view the city's ruins, if possible. We will then examine those major pre-Hispanic polities with which Teotihuacan interacted, including Tikal, Guatemala, or upon which it exerted historical influence, such as Tenochtitlan, Mexico City. The final two weeks will consider comparative settlement and architectural data from the Mississippian, Puebloan, and Inka cultures of Indigenous North and South America.
This seminar addresses the field of "indigenous art" to unsettle current understandings of self and alter representation. Focusing on South America and drawing parallels with the Americas and Oceania, it investigates studies of material and immaterial culture from the perspective of indigenous world-makings. Attention will be paid to how indigenous arts speak to the dilemmas of self-governance, biocultural diversity, and conservation. We will also address forms of decolonization of Amerindian arts that are at play in museums, festivals, and environmental storytelling, with indigenous artists and intellectuals as their protagonists.
An introduction to Latin American cultures and artistic and literary traditions through a wide spectrum of materials. We will discuss relevant issues in Latin American cultural, political, and social history, including the legacy of colonialism and indigenous resistance, the African diaspora, national fictions, popular and mass culture, gender and racial politics. Materials: essays by Ángel Rama, short stories by Julio Cortázar and Samanta Schweblin, poems by Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén and period Cuban son music; paintings by Mexican muralists, films by Patricio Guzmán and Jayro Bustamante, writings by indigenous activist Ailton Krenak.
The course deals with philosophy as practiced in Latin America from the Spanish Conquest until the contemporary period. Unifying themes are race, identity, and the relationship between European influences and the specific circumstances of Latin America. We will explore these themes by examining the following topics among others: the use of Aristotelian ideas in debates about the appropriate treatment of the indigenous populations of the Americas; and ways in which Latin American thinkers employed ideas of the French enlightenment, Comte's positivism and Marxist concepts to articulate programs for political and cultural change.
The pre-European history of Amerind cultures and their associated environments in the New World tropics will be studied. Topics to be covered include the peopling of tropical America; development of hunting/gathering and agricultural economies; neotropical climate and vegetation history; and the material culture and social organization of native Americans. Field and laboratory experiences will incorporate methods and problems in field archaeology, paleoenthnobotany and paleoecology, and archaeozoology.
In this class we will trouble the idea of "The Northern Triangle" by prying apart that grouping, examining each country's unique stories, and taking a nuanced look at shared phenomena. We will cover: the history and legacy of US intervention, the evolution of state and criminal violence, resistance struggles and Indigenous movements, and the varied and complex reality of drug cartels and street gangs. The course will touch on themes of transparency, impunity, and corruption in the democratic, post-war present and also focus on the emergence of and challenges to attempts to hold the post-dictatorial governments to account.
Why was there an American Revolution? How revolutionary was it, and for whom? Why did it end with the creation of a fractious independent republic, an "empire of liberty" rooted in slavery? This class explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Revolution, from the Seven Years War through the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Lectures, readings, and precepts will trace the ideas and experiences of the many peoples whose lives intersected with the United States' struggle for independence: female and male, Black and white and Native American, free and enslaved, American and British, Loyalist and Patriot.
The three cities that we "visit" were major population centers in their own right prior to the arrival of the European invaders in the 16th century. We ask ourselves, both how they became colonial cities and how might we, as readers in the 21st century, see the traces of these transformations in the cultural artifacts produced by Spanish, Criollo, Indigenous, and Afro-Peruvian authors. The palimpsest as metaphor for the city would imply that many layers of writing, traces and erasures may be observed on the urban surface.
Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor notes the word "indian" is a "colonial enactment" that "has no referent in tribal languages or cultures." But as a trope it has long provided Western culture with a vision of romantic primitivism, of savage cruelty, or of the doomed victims of colonial expansion. This course will examine eighteenth-century transatlantic representations of North American Indigenous people and consider the cultural functions of these representations and their role in settler colonialism. In addition to literary texts, we will also examine art and visual culture, collected objects, and philosophical writing from the period.
'Revolution knows no compromise,' Malcolm X said in a 1963 speech. 'You haven't got a revolution that doesn't involve bloodshed.' This course investigates the concepts of revolution and counterrevolution by centering the race question. We will explore the strategies that liberation movements used to achieve revolution and conversely, how imperial states aimed to subvert these movements through counterrevolutionary warfare. Our class will highlight Black, Indigenous, and Third World liberation struggles, and we will look at cases in Haiti, the U.S., Russia, Algeria, Cuba, and Iran.
This course draws on anthropology, history, critical theory, films and documentaries, fictive and journalistic writing to explore violence, its power and meaning. We will explore conquest and colonialism, genocidal violence, state violence and political resistance, everyday violence, gendered violence, racialization, torture, as well as witnessing and repair. Building across disciplines and working with heterodox theoretical frameworks (post-colonial/decolonial, non-Western, feminist, and indigenous approaches), this course invites us to understand violence in its multifaceted physical, symbolic, social, political and cultural manifestations.