For the most current listing, see

Graduate students from any department on campus are encouraged to enroll in our courses. Indeed, we encourage students to consider the Graduate Specialization in Anthropologies of Medicine, Science, and Technology, which only requires taking four courses (three of which must be from our department).


The only exceptions to this policy are:

Courses limited to Ph.D. students in the Department of Anthropology: 202A (Proseminar A), 202B (Proseminar B), 202C (Proseminar C), 215B (Research Design) and 215C (Grant and Proposal Writing)

Courses limited to Ph.D. students and M.A. in MSTS students in the Department of Anthropology: 215A (Ethnographic Methods).

Please note this listing is only a tentative plan. It is subject to change.
Last updated August 7, 2018

Fall 2018 - Course Offerings
Proseminar in Anthro (Kim, E.)
Year-long intensive introduction to the history of anthropological thought and reading in classical and contemporary ethnography for first-year graduate students.
Proseminar in Medicine, Science & Technology (Zhan, M.)
Explores the phenomena studied by "medical anthropology" and "science and technology studies" are inextricably linked, and how understanding formations requires moving between disparate fields of inquiry. Required for students pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Anthropoligies of Medicine, Science, and Technology.
215A Ethnographic Methods (Fortun, K.)
Exposes students to diverse methods, both traditional and experimental, used in anthropological ethnographic research. Students gain experience practicing diverse methods, and learn to select methods appropriate to particular study designs and contexts.
Globalizing Social Theory (Darian-Smith, E.)
Developing critical, interdisciplinary, feminist, and postcolonial approaches to global issues. Review of European modern and postmodern schools of thought, and theories of globalization. Incorporating theories from the global south to develop a more global and inclusive system of knowledge production.
250A The Cultural Politics of Visual Representation (Chavez, L.)
Develops a theoretical framework for analyzing and reading visual images. Images, as cultural productions, are steeped in the values, ideologies, and taken-for-granted beliefs of the culture which produced them and a political economy that is class, race, and gender inflected.
Dissertation Writing (Nam, S.)
Intended for advanced, post-fieldwork Anthropology graduate students. Emphasis on the presentation of research design and results, problems of ethnographic writing, and qualitative and quantitative data and analysis. Prerequisites: post-fieldwork; graduate standing in Anthropology or consent of instructor.

Feminist Anthropology (Mahmud, L.)
This course examines feminist anthropology's rise as an interdisciplinary field. Paying special attention to issues of power, subjectivity, and authority in the research encounter, the course surveys feminist anthropologists' major contributions to ethnography, gender studies, queer studies, and cultural anthropology.

289 Colonialism in Latin America (OToole, R.)
This course tracks how colonial authorities and their supposed subjects both engaged in and destabilized racial, economic, and sexual logics. We will explore postcolonial, subaltern, African Diaspora, and indigenous theories of colonization and slavery amid what remains of the colonial Iberian empires.

Teaching Anthropology (Jenks, A.)
This course examines the teaching and learning of anthropology in higher education from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Topics include critical and decolonizing pedagogies, theories of learning, course design and instructional strategies, inclusive teaching, and teaching in academic careers.

Winter 2019 - Course Offerings

Proseminar in Anthropology (Fortun, M.)
Year-long intensive introduction to the history of anthropological thought and reading in classical and contemporary ethnography for first-year graduate students.


Research Design (Olson, V.)
Introduces research design for anthropology, including concept work and mapping, research topic and aims development, research question construction, and fieldwork planning.


Humanism and Posthumanism (Zhan, M.)
Examines alternative forms of human, humanisms, and posthumanisms to explore the inherent ambiguities and shifting boundaries of knowing and being human, and to venture into modes of analysis that problematize the universality and globality of liberal humanism.


Anthropology of Secrecy (Mahmud, L.). Course website
Secrecy is a universal sociological form." With this insight, Georg Simmel spearheaded a century of research on how the keeping, sharing, and revealing of secrets mediates all types of social relationships, whether between intimate partners or between citizens and the state. This seminar will examine secrecy as a mode of knowledge production and a world-making technique of power. Drawing from anthropology and related disciplines, including queer and feminist studies, political theory, and cultural studies, we will trace the centrality of secrecy to a wide range of contexts and problematics. Specific topics for discussion may include: political scandals and open secrets; betrayal, exposure, and publicity; hypervisibility, sexuality, and the closet; transparency, security, and the state; conspiracy theories, paranoia, and resistance; identity, belonging, and community formation. As we survey practices of concealment and revelation across various socio-political contexts, we will pay close attention to the fields of power that secrecy traverses and enables.


Imaginary Ethnographies (Schwab, G.)
This course facilitates encounters between science fiction and critical theories of the future. Beginning with theories that provide the grounding for a robust concept of "ethnographies of the future," (Strathern; Fischer; Rheinberger), we will explore conditions and possibilities of writing the future and then discuss a range of Science Fiction as imaginary ethnographies of the future. Rather than applying the theories in question to a reading of these literary texts, we will explore their implied theoretical potential as well as their challenges to anthropological or philosophical theories of the future. One of the goals is to discuss the contribution of literature as a form of writing culture, and particularly of future-oriented writing.  The course should also be helpful in thinking about issues of ethnography as design. Finally, to enhance the experimental form of this course, I am encouraging students to write their own "ethnography of the future" either in form of a "theory of the future" or in form of a SF short story. (Conventional papers are, of course, also an option.) We will end the course with a celebratory gathering with readings from the student projects.

List of texts:

Science Fiction:
Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water
Frank Schatzing, The Swarm
Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, (The Camille SF parables)
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (Volume One)
Marge Piercey, He, She, and It
Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis (Volume One: Dawn)
Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics
Samuel Beckett, The Lost Ones
Documentary film: Michael Madsen, Into Eternity.

Marilyn Strathern's Ethnographies of the Future (Selections)
Michael Fischer's Emergent Forms of Life (Selections)
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger's Experimental Systems (Intro)
Gabriele Schwab, Imaginary Ethnographies (Intro and chapters on Octavia Butler and Beckett)
Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble (Selections)
Bruno Latour, Faing Gaia (Selections)
Deborah Danowski/Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, The Ends of the World (Selections)
Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life (Selections)


Visual Anthropology (Varzi, R.)
This course will focus on the construction of culture through visuality. We will look at ethnographic films, film theory and anthropological texts in order to analyze ideas about: ethics, "reality" and fiction; propaganda and documentary, the construction of a frame and the responsibility of the filmmaker, photographer and anthropologist.


Kinship and Relatedness (Kim, E.)

What analytical purchase does "kinship" have in contemporary anthropology and our theorizations of social life? What has "relatedness" accomplished in moving away from the problematic roots of kinship in classic anthropological accounts of non-Western societies? This course will offer a theoretical investigation of kinship and relatedness in Anglo-American anthropology, asking how feminist and post-structuralist interventions into classic kinship studies crucially inform and intersect with more au courant frameworks like "belonging," "networks," "sociality," and "intimacy," as well as enduring questions of economies, reproduction, personhood, life and death, embodiment, and technology.


Law and Modernity (Richland, J.)
"Between facts and norms," is both the title of Jürgen Habermas's 1992 treatise announcing his deliberative politics and jurisprudence, but also the way in which he argues legal and political authority work in our late capital, neoliberal moment, at least for now. That is, he explains, where social power is generated in law and politics not just by power, but legitimacy, it must work in a way that sutures norm to fact, giving the imprimatur of reasoned, deliberative coordination and communication to the exercise of official acts and their social consequences. In describing it as such, Habermas's approach to law and politics is susceptible to charges that in aiming to explain the inner workings of law's rationalizing discourses, he seems to offer an apology for them, at once descrying the practices of modern legal meaning, knowing, and relating but then, curiously, also seeming to make them sound, well, reasonable. Alternatively, and from another vantage, Habermas's deliberative jurisprudence seem to so echo the operative logics of other modern authorizing discourses – natural science, economics, bureaucracy, for example – that it can be hard to discern what, if anything, distinguishes law from these other ways of contemporary human doing. This class asks after these questions, taking Habermas' theory as a convenient (though neither exhaustive nor essential) foil for evaluating law's operative premises and effects in our current moment. After exploring readings that evaluate different contemporary theories for understanding what law is and does, and does not do, we will spend the remainder of the quarter comparing law's modes of meaning, knowing and relating to those of other authoritative discourses, including those of science and technology, finance, property, and religious traditions.


Spring 2019 - Course Offerings

Proseminar in Anthropology (Sojoyner, D.)
Year-long intensive introduction to the history of anthropological thought and reading in classical and contemporary ethnography for first-year graduate students.


Grant & Proposal Writing (Boellstorff, T.)
Focuses on production, critique, and revision of student research proposals. A practical seminar designed to improve student proposals, help students through the application processes, and increase students' chances of obtaining support for their research.


Ethnography and its Collaborative Futures (Marcus, G.)

This course looks at the cultural contact between Europeans and peoples of the Pacific, and the sailing that made it possible. It covers important issues in anthropology of culture contact, history of science, culture concept in the west, and given the nature of oceanic settlement and life on islands, issues of key importance to recent concerns with human adaptation to climate change.


Capital Empire (Peterson, K.)
Examines theories of capital and empire via anthropological theory, post/colonial critique, feminist theory, and Black political thought. Moreover, it examines social movements, geo/political trajectories and formations, and political economic trends that have emerged after the 2008 financial crisis.


Digital Anthropology (Boellstorff, T.)
Examines "the digital" from an anthropological perspective by exploring ethnographic research on digital culture and using anthropological frameworks to approach the digital and the human. Readings are interdisciplinary, including work from history and communications.


 Multimodal Anthropology (Varzi, R.)
This past year anthropologists Collins, Durington, and Gill published an important call to arms in their manifesto "Multimodality: An Invitation." The call coincided with the inauguration of a multimodal section in the journal of American Anthropology – but in no way does this imply that this process or practice is a new one. Anthropologists have been doing multi-modal anthropology since Franz Boas began working with wax cylinder recording and his star student Zora Neale Hurston started experimenting with text. Anthropology has always been an inter-disciplinary field lending its methods to fields as diverse as Science and Technology Studies and Studio Art, and being influenced by these fields in turn. This course will explore the history and contemporary practices of multimodal anthropology, from sound to sensory studies, (to give a small example), allowing students to engage their research data while experimenting with new forms. It will allow a space for process, the time and the permission to play, to move material in and out of various forms until it finds its home, which may entail a form or function wholly unexpected even by its own author. The course encourages multi-disciplinary and to that end is open and encourages graduate students in any field to join us.


 Open Anthropology (Fortun, M.)






© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766