Anthropology of the City: The Past and Future of Urban Life
ANTH/ARCHY 469; Autumn 2011
M, W 1:30-3:20; ARC G070

Course Overview

Weekly Schedule

Danny Hoffman:, Denny 243, office hours Tuesday 11:30-12:30
Peter Lape:, Denny 140, office hours Thursday 9:30-10:30

Today, for the first time in history, the majority of the worlds 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? When and why did cities appear in human history? 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.

Assignments and Grading
This is a discussion-oriented course with minimal instructor lectures. For this format to work well, students need to do the assigned reading and be prepared to participate in discussion. We will have in-class written assignments at each class meeting that will be collected at the end of class. Your peers will review the two longer assigned papers, and only the final revised version will be graded. Late submissions will not be accepted and missed exams cannot be made up unless you make alternate arrangements prior to the due date. We ask that you notify an instructor in advance if you have to miss a class meeting, two in-class assignments can be excused without affecting your participation grade. Electronic devices (laptops, cell phones, etc.) may not be used in class without instructor permission.

      What is a City? definition paper, 1-2 pages double spaced (10%), due 10/5
      Quiz on anthropological/archaeological theories and definitions (15%), on 10/19
      Opinion Paper, 2-3 pages double spaced (15%), draft due 10/26, final due 11/9
      Research Paper: 8-12 pages double spaced (30%), draft due 11/21, final due 12/8
      Participation in class discussion, in-class writing and peer reviews: 30%

      Miville, China.
2009. The City & the City. New York: Ballantine.
                (Available at the UW Bookstore, Amazon, and most other booksellers, or on reserve at Odegaard)

       All other readings available online, see weekly schedule to access.