University of New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
SYLLABUSAre cities the vibrant, vital centers of all that is exciting, new and provocative in modern life or are they the decaying, decadent and dangerous remnants of an industrial age whose time has past? How do we link the lives of wealthy leaders of industry and the arts with crack dealers and shanty town dwellers? How, in fact, do we reconcile these stereotypical images of urban life with the realities of millions of urban lives lived in between these extremes?
This course will present an anthropological approach to the study of life in cities, providing students with tools to think critically about the meaning of urban life in the new century. We live in an urban age, one in which the majority of people in mos t countries live in or near cities. Yet we also live in an age in which the very idea of urban life provokes images of alienation, fear and danger. In this course we will attempt to make sense of this apparent paradox by looking closely at the ways in w hich people live in and think about urban life. We will show how an anthropological approach can provide unique - and uniquely useful - insights into life in contemporary cities.
Ranging over a wide variety of contexts, theoretical perspectives and research methods and drawing on readings that range from classic ethnographies to detective novels, we will question the meaning of "urban life" itself. How, we will ask, can we reconc ile theoretical perspectives developed to analyze ethnicity in Chicago with Marxist criticism aimed at Berlin and Paris? Can research into the cultures of Los Angeles help us make sense of life in Calcutta or Tokyo? What insights does analysis of the sh opping strategies of Londoners provide that might help us understand the lives of homeless New Yorkers? How can we use the critical tools developed in all these analyses to further our own engagement in the lives, policies and politics of New Orleans?
COURSE REQUIREMENTSEach reading assignment should be completed before the date it is to be discussed (see below).
You will be graded on:
Graduate students: a final project, worth 20% of your grade. This may be a research paper, critical review essay or other research (15-20 pages). Please arrange to meet with me to discuss this project.
Due dates for each project are included in the course schedule below. Late assignments will lose 1/3 a grade each day they are late.
All writing assignments must be typed, double spaced and, if you cite published work, must follow standard social science citation procedures.
NOTE: Regular attendance is necessary for this class to succeed and for you to succeed in it. Constructive class participation will improve your grades. While a few absences will be tolerated, failure to attend class regularly will result in a significantly lower grade.
The course will include an on-line discussion forum where we will extend classroom discussion, explore electronic resources and critically examine current events related to urban studies. Students must participate in the forum. While contributions will not be graded, failure to contribute to each discussion (or failure to contribute in a thoughtful manner) will result in a full grade reduction. The course web site can be found at http://www.uno.edu/~db eriss/urbananthro/.
REQUIRED TEXTSThe following books are available for purchase in the bookstore. All other listed readings will be available on reserve in the library or on the course web site, as indicated below.
Bestor, Theodore. 1990. Neighborhood Tokyo. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Gmelch, George and Walter Zenner. 1996. Urban Life: Readings in Urban Anthropology. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
Hutnyk, John. 1996. The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation. London: Zed Books.
Miller, Daniel. 1998. A Theory of Shopping. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Mosley, Walter. 1998. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. Pocket Books.
Passaro, Joanne. 1996. The Unequal Homeless: Men On The Streets, Women In Their Place. New York: Routledge.
Wiltz, Christine. 2000. The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld. New York: Faber & Faber. [OPTIONAL]
INTRODUCTION: ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE CITY OR ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE CITY?1/18 - 1/20
|What do we mean by "urban"? Is urban simply the opposite of rural? Is there some special quality to life in cities?|
Wirth, Louis. "Urbanism as a Way of Life." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 14-34.|
Milgram, Stanley. "The Urban Experience." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 35-46.
Rotenberg, Robert. "The Metropolis and Everyday Life." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 60-81.
1/25 - 1/27
|Do city types vary over time and place? What sort of connections do cities have to the wider society and world? What characterizes some of the historic approaches to urban research?|
Sjoberg, Gideon. "The Preindustrial City." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 82-93.|
Schell, Lawrence. "Cities and Human Health." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 104-127.
Abu-Lughod, Janet. "Territoriality and Social Organization in Islamic Cities." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 491-509.
Simmel, Georg. 1969 (1950). "The Metropolis and Mental Life" in Sennett, Richard, ed. Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. pp. 47-60. (Reserve)
Recommended: Redfield, Robert and Milton Singer. 1969 (1954). "The Cultural Role of Cities." Sennett Richard, ed. Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. pp. 206-233. (Reserve)
URBAN RESEARCH2/1 - 2/3
|What is specific about anthropological research in cities? What particular methodological problems do urban anthropologists face? What are some of the historical approaches to research in cities? Should research be focused on neighborhoods? Urban processes? Associations?|
Foster, G.M. and R.V. Kemper. "Anthropological Fieldwork in Cities." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 135-150.|
Whiteford, Michael. "Doing It: Urban Research in Popayán, Colombia." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 151-168.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. "Ordinary People/Everyday Life." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 548-562.
Passaro, Joanne. 1997. "'You Can't Take the Subway to the Field!': 'Village' Epistemologies in the Global Village." Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson, eds. Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp.147-162. (Reserve)
Recommended: Park, Robert. 1969 (1916). "The City: Suggestions for the investigation of human behavior in the urban environment." Sennett, Richard, ed. Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. pp. 91-130. (Reserve)
NEIGHBORHOOD, COMMUNITY, URBAN VILLAGE2/8 - 2/10
|What makes a place into a "neighborhood"? Are viable neighborhoods survivals of a happier, pre-industrial past? What cultural and historic processes contribute to neighborhood development in Tokyo? How do political processes help define Tokyo neighborhoods? Is the creation of community essentially a political process imposed from the outside?|
Bestor, Introduction - Chapter 3, pp. 1-121.|
2/15 - 2/17
|What practices frame community life in Tokyo? Are social relations within neighborhoods egalitarian or hierarchical? How do festivals and other rituals work to develop a sense of community? What are the central terms and concepts used by Japanese people to discuss neighborhoods and communities? What is the meaning of“tradition in contemporary Japan?|
Bestor, Chapter 4 - Conclusion, pp. 122-268.|
Recommended: Pollan, Michael. 1997. "Town-Building is No Mickey Mouse Operation." The New York Times Magazine. December 14: 56-88. (Web)
CAPITALISM, FAMILY AND (POST?) MODERNITY IN THE CITY2/22 - 2/24
|How are social relations constructed in cities? What is specific (if anything) about those relations in capitalist cities? Under modernism? Post-modernism? Is there something culturally particular about the link between shopping and social relationships in modern societies? How are ideas about “the family,” savings and pleasure constructed in contemporary cities?|
Miller, Introduction and Chapter 1, pp. 1-72.|
Simpson, Bob. 1997. "On Gifts, Payments and Disputes: Divorce and Changing Family Structures in Contemporary Britain." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 3:731-745. (Web)
2/29 - 3/2
|Is shopping for others really a form of sacrifice? What insights do theories about sacrifice and exchange give us into shopping and consumption? What role do commodities play in modern social relations? How can love be made material? Does the theory of shopping provide insights beyond London?|
Critical reading review due in class, 3/2.|
Miller, Chapters 2-3, pp. 73-155.
Recommended: Zukin, Sharon. 1998. "Urban lifestyles: diversity and standardization in spaces of consumption." Urban Studies. 35(5-6):825-839. (Web)
SHAPING URBAN SPACE: NATION, ETHNICITY, CLASS AND GENDER3/9, 3/14, 3/16
|How does urban public space become cultural space? What and who gives a place identity and meaning? How can the meaning of place be contested? How can researchers usefully compare spaces and how should planners take the culture of place into account? TD>|
Mid-term examination due in class, 3/16.|
McDonogh, Gary Wray. 1992. "Bars, Gender, and Virtue: Myth and Practice in Barcelona’s Barrio Chino." Anthropological Quarterly. 65(1):19-33. (Reserve)
Regis, Helen A. 1999. "Second Lines, Minstrelsy, and the Contested Landscapes of New Orleans Afro-Creole Festivals." Cultural Anthropology. 14(4):472-504. (Reserve)
Caldeira, Teresa. 1996. "Fortified Enclaves: The New Urban Segregation." Public Culture. 8:303-328. (Reserve)
Recommended: Low, Setha M. 1997. "Urban public spaces as representations of culture: the plaza in Costa Rica." Environment and Behavior. 29(1):3-33. (Web)
Recommended: Wiltz, Chapters 1-7, pp. 3-76.
3/21 - 3/23
|How are cities such as New York structured by the existence of ethnic groups? What processes and structures work to make some differences, such as race, more salient than others? Is ethnicity less "authentic" when it is used to self-consciously achieve political objectives? How do factors such as gender, generation or class shape the meaning people attribute to race or ethnicity?|
Gregory, Steven. 1993. "Race, Rubbish and Resistance: Empowering Difference in Community Politics." Cultural Anthropology. 8(1):24-48. (Reserve)|
Stoller, Paul. 1996. "Spaces, Places, and Fields: The Politics of West African Trading in New York City’s Informal Economy." American Anthropologist. 98(4):776-788. (Reserve)
Brown, Jacqueline Nassy. 1998. "Black Liverpool, Black America, and the Gendering of Diasporic Space." Cultural Anthropology. 13(3):291-325. (Reserve)
Recommended: Wiltz, Chapters 8-14, pp. 77-150.
THE DESERVING AND UNDESERVING: POVERTY AND CRIME IN URBAN LIFE3/28 - 3/30
|Is the persistence of urban poverty best explained through economic structures or cultural factors? What cultural assumptions help determine social policy toward poor people? Is the culture of poverty the culture of poor people or part of the culture of policy makers? Can crime be rational?|
Stack, Carol B. "The Kindred of Viola Jackson." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 323-334.|
Lewis, Oscar. "The Culture of Poverty." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 393-404.
Goode, Judith and Edwin Eames. "An Anthropological Critique of the Culture of Poverty." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 405-417.
Bourgois, Philippe. "Office Work and the Crack Alternative Among Puerto Rican Drug Dealers in East Harlem." Gmelch and Zenner, pp. 418-431.
Hyatt, Susan Brin. 1997. "Poverty in a 'post-welfare' landscape: Tenant management policies, self-governance and the democratization of knowledge in Great Britain." Shore, Cris and Susan Wright, eds. Anthropology of Policy. New York: Routledge. pp. 217-238. (Reserve)
Recommended: Wacquant, Loďc. 1997. "Three pernicious premises in the study of the American ghetto." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 21(2):341-53. (Web)
Recommended: Wiltz, Chapters 15-22, pp. 151-238.
4/4 - 4/6
|How does homelessness reflect cultural ideas about gender and the nuclear family? How do ideas about blackness contribute to the persistence of homelessness among black men? Why do homeless men epitomize the “undeserving” poor? How does social policy contribute to the persistence of homelessness? How do the concepts through which we think about poverty serve to increase, rather than alleviate, poverty?|
Passaro, Chapters 1-6, pp. 1-108.|
4/11 - 4/13
|What can make a novel seem like a good ethnography? What does this novel suggest about race, gender and class in Los Angeles (or in the United States in general)? Is this a book about race or gender? Why has the very word "urban" come to signify "black " in the United States? What kind of impact, if any, would exposure to this sort of novel - or to ethnographic data of the same type - have an impact on public policy?|
Mosley. The whole darn book. It is a novel, enjoy!|
TOURISM, TRAVEL AND THE URBAN IMAGINARY4/25 - 4/27
|How do travel and travel writing shape our understanding of cities? Is tourism central to contemporary urban life? What kinds of cultural concerns are reflected in the way travel writers describe cities such as Calcutta? How does the representation of a city shape life in that city?|
Field Analysis due in class, 4/25.|
Hutnyk, Chapters 2-4, pp. 40-142.
Recommended: Argyrou, Vassos. 1997. "“Keep Cyprus Clean”: Littering, Pollution, and Otherness." Cultural Anthropology. 12(2):159-178. (Reserve)
5/2 - 5/4
|What is the connection between tourism, photography and the global circulation of ideas about poverty, the Third World and, especially, Third World cities? What kinds of ideas, people, structures does tourist photography promote? What does it hide? Who has the power to shape the way we think about urban life, in India and elsewhere? Is there a real city behind the images?|
Hutnyk, Chapters 5-7, pp. 143-223.|
|Final examination/project due in my office (LA 281) before noon.|
Syllabus prepared 9 January 2001 for H-Urban Teaching
Syllabus copyright 2000 David Beriss. All rights reserved.