CEGU

Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

Autumn 2023

Insect Media

Thomas Lamarre

ARTH 34910, CDIN 24910, CMST 24910, CMST 34915, EALC 34910

description

How have insects affected ways of knowing and relating to the world? This course opens a dialogue between insects and Japanese audiovisual cultures, including fiction, poetry, visual art, manga, anime, and film. We aim to address the important and profound challenge that recent trends in animal studies, environmental humanities, and eco-criticism pose to received ways of studying human cultures and societies. The challenge lies in offering alternatives to the entrenched reliance on a nature-culture divide, which gives culture explanatory preference over nature. In the case of Japan and insects, for instance, there exists a fairly significant body of scholarship on how Japanese people respond to, interact with, and represent insects, and yet priority is generally given to culture, and Japan is treated monolithically. To offer alternatives to this monolithic culturalism, in this course we will (a) open dialogue between culture accounts of insects and scientific accounts and (b) explore different forms of media offering different milieus where human animals and more-than-human insects come into relation without assuming the ascendency of one over the other.

Ancient Landscapes I

Mehrnoush Soroush

ANTH 36710, GISC 30061, NEAA 30061

description

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI’s ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills.

During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Winter 2024

Social Theory of the City

Alan Kolata

ANTH 58600

description

This graduate seminar explores various historical, sociological and anthropological theories of cities. The course analyzes major theoretical frameworks concerned with urban forms, institutions and experience as well as particular instances of city development from pre-modern to contemporary periods. The seminar will consist of initial orienting lectures, discussion of selected texts concerned with social theories of the city, and presentation of research projects by class participants.

Global Health, Environment, and Indigenous Futures

Sanghamitra Das

CEGU 30700, ANTH 30700, CHDV 30750, RDIN 30700, SALC 32704

description

The global coronavirus pandemic has made evident the significance of ecological (im)balances for the well-being of societies. The relationship between structural inequalities, changing environments and health, especially for historically and socio-economically marginalized communities, is now well established. At the same time, a growing body of literature links the material conditions of marginalized communities-for instance, spaces of dwelling and conditions of labor-to health status, globally. Based on a set of interdisciplinary literature arranged through anthropological theories, this course will critically engage with notions of health and well-being for indigenous communities, tracing injustices that stem histories of racial, caste- and ethnicity-based, and environmental exclusions. The readings are organized around one central question: What does it mean to be indigenous in a changing planet where social, political, and economic systems are marked by enduring legacies of systemic violence? This graduate and undergraduate level course will introduce contexts within which structural exclusions lead to ill-health and loss of well-being among indigenous communities across the globe. The aim is to develop critical thinking on the political economy and political ecologies of indigenous health as imbricated with issues of social, economic, and environmental justice.

Britain 1760-1880: The Origins of Fossil Capitalism

Fredrik Albritton Jonsson

CEGU 31406, CHSS 31406, HIPS 21406, HIST 31406

description

Britain rose to global dominance after 1760 by pioneering the first fossil-fuel economy. This course explores the profound impact of coal and steam on every aspect of British society, from politics and religion to industrial capitalism and the pursuit of empire. Such historical investigation also serves a second purpose by helping us see our own fossil-fuel economy with fresh eyes through direct comparison with Victorian energy use. How much does the modern world owe to the fossil capitalism of the Victorians? Assignments include short essays that introduces students to primary sources (texts, artifacts, and images) and a longer paper that examines in greater depth a specific aspect of the age of steam.

Digital Geographies of Climate Justice 

Alexander Arroyo

CEGU 32301, GLST 29301, MAPH 32301

description

Struggles for climate and environmental justice are increasingly mediated by digital technologies and geospatial data, especially in the Global South. In Amazonia, for example, the plight of indigenous groups bearing the brunt of ecological dispossession and political violence by deforestation is frequently represented through remotely-sensed data showing time-series of canopy loss; in turn, these data are often prompted, groundtruthed, and mobilized by indigenous communities and affiliated activists in legal and political campaigns. In parallel, across the world ocean, countries across the Global South– from Papua New Guinea and Ecuador to Ghana– are partnering with watch-dog organizations using satellite imagery and GPS data to track illegal fishing and human rights abuses at sea, acting as an auxilliary ecological police force to identify and provide data to prosecute offending vessels. The proliferation of these digital geographic technologies and techniques pose a number of complex questions.

Drawing on contemporary cases, experimental projects in “forensic” approaches to activism, and recent work in critical geography, aesthetics, STS, and political theory, this seminar will attempt to map out these digital geographies of climate justice as they emerge. The course will also involve introduction to entry-level remote sensing + GIS workflows (no prior experience required) in a pair of intensive workshops led by guest lecturers/practitioners.

Ancient Landscapes II

Mehrnoush Soroush

NEAA 30062, ANTH 26711, ANTH 36711, GISC 20062, GISC 30062, NEAA 20062

description

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI’s ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills. During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Spring 2024

Material Histories of the Modern World, c. 1700 to the present

Fredrik Albritton Jonsson

CEGU 51601, HIST 51601, CHSS 51601

description

This seminar explores the changing relationship between people and things in modern and contemporary history and introduces students to major historical interpretations, methods and sources. In the seminar, we will read classic as well as recent texts. Case studies will include the debate about the “industrious” and “consumer revolutions”; commodity biographies (sugar, tea, cotton); histories of comfort; town planning and mobility in 20th century Britain and Japan; food and diet in the British empire; waste in Republican Beijing; the material culture of the home in the Eastern Bloc; energy transitions and everyday life.

Climate Ethics

Sarah Fredericks

CEGU 51802, RETH 51802, CHSS 51802, KNOW 51802

description

Anthropogenic climate change is the largest challenge facing human civilization. Its physical and temporal scale and unprecedented complexity at minimum require extensions of existing ethical systems, if not new ethical tools. This course will begin by examining natural and social-scientific studies of climate change and its current and predicted effects (e.g. the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Stern Review). Most of the course will examine how religious and philosophical ethical systems respond to the vast temporal and spatial scales of climate change and its inherent uncertainties. For instance, common principles of environmental ethics such as justice and responsibility are often reimagined in climate ethics. We will also explore the degree to which the assumptions of many modern Western ethical systems including linear causality, an emphasis on individuals, and purely rational decision-making foster or inhibit climate ethics. In the course, we will take a comparative approach to environmental ethics and may examine perspectives from secular Western philosophy, Christianity (Catholic and Protestant), Buddhist, and Islamic thought.