Course Offerings

Spring 2021 NAIS Course Offerings

LANG 0100 Nahuatl for Beginners

  • Eduardo de la Cruz, T + Th 10:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.
  • Once the lingua franca of the Aztec Empire, today Nahuatl is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Mexico and North America. Join the growing community of Nahuatl speakers through this immersive course and develop your cultural sensibility and competence. Instruction is fully in modern Nahuatl (Huasteca Veracruzana variant) with some explanations in Spanish.

AMST 0192F Whose Land? Tracing History and Memory in the Native Northeast

  • Ally LaForge, Online Course (schedule TBD)
  • ​This course explores local histories of the Native Northeast to introduce relationships between land, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. Students will learn about the Native peoples of present-day New England through readings of origin stories, historical documents, material culture, documentaries, poetry, mapping projects, and academic texts. We will consider the ways history is produced and reiterated in historical writing, popular narratives, and the land itself. Students will gain proficiency in decolonizing historical research methods and learn strategies for interpreting primary and secondary source documents in multiple short writing assignments, with opportunities for revision throughout the semester. This course will be held online, with several optional in-person walking tours of Providence and surrounding areas taking place during class time throughout the semester. These sessions will be made accessible via livestream or recording to those studying remotely.

ANTH 1505 Vertical Civilization: South American Archaeology from Monte Verde to the Inkas

  • Parker VanValkenburgh, TTh 2:30 p.m. - 3:50 p.m. in Friedman Hall 108
  • ​This course offers an introduction to the archaeology of indigenous south American Civilizations, from the peopling of the continent around 13,000 years ago, to the Spanish Invasion of the 16th Century C.E. Throughout, we seek to understand the often unique solutions that South America indigenous peoples developed to deal with risk and to make sense of the world around them. Course lectures and discussions focus on recent research and major debates. Weekly sections draw on viewings of artifacts and manuscripts from the Haffenreffer Museum and the John Carter Brown Library.

ANTH 1624 Indians, Colonists, and Africans in New England

  • Patricia E Rubertone, TTh 10:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. Course offered online
  • The course explores the colonial and capitalist transformation of New England's social and cultural landscapes following European contact. Using archaeology as critical evidence, we will examine claims about conquest, Indian Extinction, and class, gender and race relations by studying the daily lives and interactions of the area's diverse Native American, African American, and European peoples.

ANTH 1650 Ancient Maya Writing

  • Stephen D Houston, MWF 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. Course offered online
  • ​Nature and content of Mayan hieroglyphic writing, from 100 to 1600 CE. Methods of decipherment, introduction to textual study, and application to interpretations of Mayan language, imagery, world view, and society. Literacy and Mesoamerican background of script.

CLPS 1392 Modern Mayan Languages

  • Scott H AnderBois, MWF 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m. in Friedman Hall 102
  • This course examines in detail the Mayan languages, a family of approximately 30 languages spoken by millions across Mexico, Guatemala, and in diasporic communities across the United States and elsewhere. While many may associate the Maya with ancient ruins and hieroglyphs, the focus of this course is on understanding and appreciating the modern Mayan languages in all their richness. The course's primary focus is on understanding the complexities of the grammars of Mayan languages, though we will also explore the sociocultural contexts in which these languages are spoken, their history and the ways they've changed over time, as well as investigating the implications that their grammatical properties may have for our understanding of human language and the ways in which languages may vary.

COLT 0610E Crisis and Identity in Mexico, 1519-1968

  • Stephanie Merrim, TTh 2:30 p.m. - 3:50 p.m. in Smith-Buonanno Hall G12
  • Examines four moments of crisis/critical moments for the forging of Mexican identity: the “Conquest” as viewed from both sides; the hegemonic 17th century; the Mexican Revolution as represented by diverse stakeholders; the "Mex-hippies" of the 1960s. We especially explore how key literary, historical, and essayistic writings have dealt with Mexico's past and present, with trauma and transformation. Readings include works by Carlos Fuentes, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, and the indigenous Nican Mopohua on the Virgin of Guadalupe. All in English. No prerequisites.

COLT 0710I New Worlds: Reading Spaces and Places in Colonial Latin America

  • Stephanie Merrim, F 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. in Friedman Hall 201
  • An interdisciplinary journey-combining history, literature, art, film, architecture, cartography-through representations of the many worlds that comprised the colonial Hispanic New World. We traverse the paradisiacal Antilles, the U.S. Southwest, Tenochtitlan/Mexico City, Lima, Potosí. We read European, indigenous, and Creole writers, including: Columbus, Las Casas, Bernal Díaz, Aztec poets, Guaman Poma, Sor Juana. In English. Excellent preparation for study abroad in Latin America. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.

ETHN 0190H Indigenous Resurgence: Roots, Reclamations, and Relations

  • Makana Kushi, Online Course (schedule TBD)
  • ​This interdisciplinary survey course in Native American and Indigenous Studies will prepare students to identify, contextualize, and complicate contemporary Indigenous movements for justice. Three organizing sections of readings and writing assignments: roots, reclamations, and relations, make up the thematic trajectory of the course. Students will think through Indigenous projects to recover lost knowledges and ways of being (roots), reclaim self-determination from settler institutions (reclamations), and reorient social movements in solidarity with other struggles for justice (relations). This course is designed for first and second year students.

ETHN 1200I History and Resistance in Representations of Native Peoples

  • Adrienne Keene, Th 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. in Friedman Hall 101
  • Throughout history, Native peoples have been portrayed through a stock set of stereotypes such as savage warriors, Indian princesses, or mystical shamans. These images surround us in advertising, news media, Hollywood, sports mascots, and Halloween costumes. This course will examine the foundations of these representations and their connections to colonization, with a focus on contemporary and ongoing examples, from Johnny Depp’s Tonto, Urban Outfitters’ “Navajo” products, to JK Rowlings’ “History of Magic in North America,” with a focus on the ways Native peoples are taking back and reshaping Native representations through activism, social media, art, design, film, and more.

ETHN 1200K Introduction to American Indian Studies

  • Nitana Hicks-Greendeer, MWF 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. Course offered online
  • This class examines the politics, cultures, histories, representations, and study of the Native peoples of North America, with a primary focus on the United States. Although broad in cultural and geographic scope, the course does not attempt to summarize the diverse cultures of the several hundred Native groups of the continent. Instead, we will focus on several key issues in the lives of, and scholarship about, American Indian/Native American/First Nations/Indigenous peoples in the US. The course will consist of lecture on Monday and Wednesday, and once a week section meetings for discussion.

ETHN 1751A   Indigenous Laws, Environmental Racism, and #LandBack 

  • Honor Keeler, Tuesday 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Course offered online
  • This class is an introductory course about the laws that affect Indigenous Peoples (federal, state, tribal, traditional, and international). It will center around historic and current cases involving the extension of jurisdiction into Indigenous lands, property, and ways of life, and further discuss the normalization of environmental racism and environmental injustice against Indigenous Peoples. The class will be in regular communication with Indigenous Peoples around the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand about Indigenous Movements to protect sacred lands, obtain #LandBack, and assert cultural, individual, and civil rights.

HIST 0577B The US-Mexico Border and Borderlands

  • Evelyn Hu-Dehart, M 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. in Salomon Center 001
  • In this First Year seminar, we will examine the historical formation, contemporary reality and popular representation of the U.S.-Mexico border from bilingual (English-Spanish), multicultural (U.S., Mexican, Mexican-American, indigenous and Asian immigrant), and transnational perspectives within the framework of globalization, and pay particular attention to the movement of peoples—workers, families, women and children--in both directions.

HIST 1960H Colonization and Southern Africa's First Peoples

  • Nancy J Jacobs, W 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Course offered online
  • This seminar focuses on the Cape Colony's subjugation of the Khoe-San people of southern Africa, once known pejoratively as "Bushmen" and "Hottentots," as an early and extreme example of the devastations of settler colonialism. Conquest, coupled with environmental, economic, and epidemiological trauma, undercut indigenous lifeways. Virulent rascism justified inhumane treatment. Survival was possible beyond the frontier, but 18th century genocide decimated the Khoe-San. Cape society assimilated their remnants into the creole "Coloured" underclass, who were relatively privileged under apartheid. The seminar concludes by considering assertions of indigeneity among contemporary descendants of the Khoe-San, asserting their belonging in decolonizing South Africa.

HIST 2971T Colonial Latin America

  • Jeremy R Mumford, Th 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. in Sayles Hall 005
  • This seminar focuses on the historiography of colonial Latin America since the 1960s. Topics include the explosive growth of indigenous-language sources for Mesoamerican history, the histories of childhood and sexuality, the spatial turn and GIS, connections between Latin America and Asia, and the impact of anthropology's ontological turn on environmental history and the history of animals. Requirements include short essays and a literature review.

RELS 1610 Sacred Sites: Law, Politics, Religion

  • Nathaniel A Berman, W 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Course offered online
  • Sacred sites have long been flashpoints for inter-communal conflict the world over, as well as posing challenges to sovereign State authority. Such sites range from natural landscapes to architectural masterpieces. They often come to symbolize the perennial clash between the religious and the secular, the sacred and the political, tradition and modernity. We will discuss a diverse array of specific disputes and ask whether one may even speak of “sacred sites” cross-culturally. Can legal frameworks embrace different notions of the sacred? We will also examine the historical contexts that provoke such disputes, particularly the aftermath of colonialism.

HISP1371O Mexican and Peruvian Modern Narratives

  • Julio Ortega, Th 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Course offered online 
  • This course will trace the interactions of tradition and modernity in Mexico and Peru, based on the modern and new representations shaped by major and younger literary authors exploring issues of migration, women rights, violence, and historical memory and new writing and visions. In Spanish. 

Fall 2020 NAISI Course Offerings

LANG 0100 Nahuatl for Beginners

  • Eduardo de la Cruz, T + Th 10:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.
  • Once the lingua franca of the Aztec Empire, today Nahuatl is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Mexico and North America. Join the growing community of Nahuatl speakers through this immersive course and develop your cultural sensibility and competence. Instruction is fully in modern Nahuatl (Huasteca Veracruzana variant) with some explanations in Spanish.

ANTH 1901 Anthropology in/of the Museum

  • Robert Preucel, F 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • ​This course provides an introduction to museums from an anthropological perspective. Topics include politics of representation and the construction of the “Other”; objects, identity, and meaning; collecting and cultural property; and collaboration, community engagement, and indigenous self-representation. Assignments involve work with the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology’s exhibitions and collections. The course focuses on museums dedicated to natural and cultural history, but establishes theoretical and practical grounding for thinking about and working in other disciplines and other kinds of display institutions. It is suitable for both undergraduate and graduate students. There are no prerequisites; but familiarity with anthropology is presumed.

ETHN 1200B Contemporary Indigenous Education in North America

  • Adrienne Keene, W 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • ​In the past, formalized schooling in Indigenous communities was a tool of colonization and cultural genocide, forcing Native peoples to assimilate to western norms, values, and knowledge. However, contemporary Indigenous communities have managed to reclaim and reshape education for Native youth, utilizing innovative methods and technologies, as well as drawing upon generations of traditional and indigenous knowledges to create environments that promote academic achievement alongside culture. In this course we will focus on the ways Native communities are asserting their educational sovereignty, through culturally-relevant/responsive curriculums, language immersion schools, indigenous charter schools, traditional ecological and scientific knowledges, and more.

IAPA 1403 Development's Visual Imaginaries: Still and Moving Images That Shaped the Field

  • Geri Augusto, T 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • ​A junior seminar in Development Studies exploring the visual imaginaries that were created and circulated between 18th and early 20th centuries  in the colonial and later independent Americas, which underpinned the most prominent 19th century and early 20th-century development theories, and shaped public perception regarding the resultant policies.  Think Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Removal and Allotment, Black Codes,  Reconstruction and Lost Cause, Exclusion and National Origin Acts, all the way to Truman’s inauguration of “aid to underdeveloped countries,” and the notions of progress, modernity, production, land use, technology, nature, sovereignty,  and hierarchies of the human which underlay all these. (The course will argue whether or not the two sets of policies—at home and abroad--drew from similar ideas and practices.) We will juxtapose to the USA instances some development policies constructed in Brazil--a similarly large, racially and ethnically diverse American society founded on appropriation of indigenous lands, colonization and slavery, and notions of limitless expansion--as well as some utilized by multilateral development projects in Southern Africa. Visuals include paintings, advertisements, brochures, films and early television shows. Experiential sessions in collaboration with John Hay library. Registrants from other concentrations welcome. DIAP and WRIT-designated.

HIAA 1882 Indigenous Art, Issues, and Concepts 

  • Marina Tyquiengco, T 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • ​This seminar will map out the field of indigenous art with an emphasis on artworks from English-speaking settler colonial countries, concentrating on Native North American and Aboriginal Australian artists. We will approach indigenous art theoretically, outlining major issues and concepts of this global topic. Units will include defining indigeneity and indigenous art terms, anthropology in relation to art, and curatorial practice. We will begin by addressing the concept of indigeneity through legal and sociopolitical frameworks, continuing with museological display of indigenous art across time, and seeing how museums are working to better contextualize their anthropological collections.

TAPS 1280W Native American Indigenous Theatre Performance

  • Sarah D'Angelo, W 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
  • ​Investigates Native American Theatre Indigenous performance through the study of new contemporary plays. Diverse storytelling styles, Indigenous ways of being and knowing intersected by history, law, sociology and their impact on language, land and identity distinguishes Native American Indigenous Theatre apart from western forms. Text based inquiry, research and critical essays combined with place-making and embodied practice contextualize how Indigenous values and their applications to decolonize performance spaces create a methodology unique to Indigenous performance aesthetics. Open to 2nd year students and up-Brown/RISD graduate/undergraduates. Instructor permission and course override required. Interested students should come to first class meeting.