How have plants shaped human lives over time? How, in turn, have people shaped the lives of plants over the course of humanity’s existence on this planet? In this class, we will delve into human-plant relationships, examining how humans have relied on plants to meet our most basic needs, from our sustenance to security. In the process, we will look at how plants have become objects of techno-scientific manipulation and inquiry, resulting in a wide array of consumptive goods as well as thorny ethical questions and quandaries. In the second half of the course, we will consider how plants can be understood as subjects in their own right with distinctive capabilities and communicative forms that have allowed them to adapt to a range of conditions. Toward the end of the course, we will speculate about what might come next for botanical beings and our socio-cultural relationships to them, particularly in this era of human-induced environmental change. Finally, we will share our individual reflections on specific plants or human-plant relationships in an end-of-the-semester ethnobotanical exhibition that will showcase both student essays and art. By the conclusion of the course, each student should:
1. Discuss how culture shapes human perceptions of and relationships to plants.
2. Develop anthropological research questions about human-plant relations.
3. Produce creative reflections on one’s own personal relationships to plants through an anthropological lens.
4. Employ ethnographic and ethnobotanical methods to collect information about human-plant relations.
ANTH4525 History of Anthropological Theory
This course serves as an overview of the history of anthropological thought and the study of anthropological theory in general. The organization of the course is chronological, tracing the early history of anthropology up to the present while highlighting major thinkers and theoretical perspectives that have defined the discipline. Throughout the course, we will apply these theories to contemporary cultural phenomena, including social media use, emerging digital languages, and transnational online activism. By the end of the course, each student should be able to:
1. Recognize major thinkers and schools of thought in anthropology in the 19th and 20th centuries.
2. Identify principal themes and topics of inquiry in the history of the discipline.
3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical orientations.
4. Assess biases in anthropological theory throughout its history
5. Apply theoretical concepts of anthropology’s past to contemporary socio-cultural phenomena.
6. Engage in debates of contemporary theory and relate them to the history of anthropological thought.
Past Courses and Syllabi:
ANTH2202H Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Ohio State U.)
ANTH3623 Environmental Anthropology (Ohio State U.)
ANTH3416 Peoples and Cultures of Latin America (Ohio State U.)
ANTH8891 Ethnography in the Anthropocene (Ohio State U.)
ANTH111 Anthropology, Culture, and Globalization (Ball State U.)