Course Offerings

Courses that contribute towards the Critical Native American and Indigenous Studies concentration or that include significant content focused on Native and Indigenous peoples are listed each semester here on the NAISI website. We invite you to explore these interdisciplinary courses, counting towards the CNAIS concentration, or to learn more about a topic of interest if you are concentrating in other subject areas.

Fall 2023 NAIS Course Offerings

ANTH 1125/ARCH 1056 Indigenous Archaeologies (RPP)

Robert Preucel, F 3-5:30pm

This is an intro. to Indigenous archaeology, sometimes defined as archaeology "by, for and with Indigenous peoples." These approaches combine the study of the past with contemporary social justice concerns. However, they are more than this. In addition to seeking to make archaeology more inclusive of and responsible to Indigenous peoples, they seek to contribute a more accurate understanding of archaeological record. They thus do not reject science, but attempt to broaden it through a consideration of Indigenous epistemologies. This course covers topics as the history of anthropological archaeology, Indigenous knowledge and science, decolonizing methodologies, representational practices and NAGPRA.

ANTH 1622 Archaeology of Settler Colonialism (RPP)

Patricia Rubertone, TTh 10:30-11:50am

The course uses settler colonialism as a framework for understanding how European colonists attempted to displace and eliminate Indigenous peoples beginning in the 15th century and its historical implications for structural inequalities of race and gender. We will look at how settler colonialism is different from colonialism, and more importantly, at resistances challenging its ambitions. Case studies from North America mostly, but also Australia, South Africa, and other settler colonial societies will focus on historical archaeology’s contributions to illuminating settler colonialist strategies for establishing and maintaining settler sovereignty in light of concerns for decolonizing archaeological practices. We will give special attention to the insights gained about the experiences of dispossessed, enslaved, and marginalized peoples and their descendants, and the many ways their actions critiqued settler colonialism and imagined different futures.

EEPS 1615/ENVS 1615 Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process (RPP, WRIT)

Amanda Lynch, TTh 2:30-3:50pm 

The diminishing quality of Earth’s systems and resources carries profound implications for the fulfillment of human rights and aspirations. But even as Western knowledge systems understand better the intrinsic interdependencies between humans and the non-human, policy gridlock persists. Indeed, scientific findings are regularly contested on political grounds. The purpose of this course is to learn how to apply diverse knowledges from Indigenous to Modern to map the relevant policy in problems at the intersection of human rights and environmental integrity, and to develop approaches to address them in ways that are creative, effective, responsible and just. Students are admitted in the following order: capstone fulfillment, core requirements, EEPS or ENVS concentrator, and others, in the order received in each category.

ENVS 1905 Thinking with the Elements: Environmental Theories and Praxis (RPP)

Bathsheba Demuth & Macarena Gomez-Barris, M 3-5:30pm

Structured around critical “elements” in the contemporary relationship between people and the environments they inhabit—from water and carbon to forests and phosphorus—this course offers a tour through debates and conversations about environmental politics, knowledge production, and action. Through readings in decolonial, Black and Indigenous theory; fiction; films; and visits from scholars and practitioners, the goal of the class is to offer students fresh methods for understanding the origins of environmental inequalities based on racial, gendered and other forms of hierarchical thinking; how communities have and are living otherwise; and ways to imagine the kinds of social and ecological worlds we hope to build. Individual and group writing and other creative work are integral to this senior capstone course.

ETHN 1200K Introduction to American Indian Studies (RPP)

Adrienne Keene, TTh 1-2:20pm

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 1750X: Native American Language Loss, Revitalization, and Resiliency

Nitana Hicks Greendeer, Th 4-6:30pm

This class examines the issues of Native languages, primarily in the United States. The course will study the variety of languages in North America, the factors that have negatively affected the strength and use of native languages in many tribes, the impact of such loss on communities, and the ways in which those communities have worked hard to maintain, revitalize, or reclaim their languages.   

ETHN 1750Y Native Pacific Islander Movements for Decolonization

Kevin Escudero, M 3-5:30pm

What does a decolonized present and future for the Indigenous peoples of Oceania entail? Relatedly, what strategies and approaches have Native Pacific peoples utilized in advocating for Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination? In what ways has this work centered Native Pacific epistemologies and world views and how does taking these knowledges into account allow for the contestation of colonial narratives of Oceania and its peoples? Focusing on Native Pacific peoples' efforts to promote political status referendums, language education, food sovereignty, and cultural preservation as well as activism contesting the ongoing effects of nuclear imperialism, militarism, and settler colonialism, this seminar provides an overview of historical and contemporary movements for decolonization in the region. Students will also be invited to contribute to a collaborative digital humanities project which will serve as a resource for K-12 educators, scholars, and activists interested in these topics.

HIST 0150J The Ocean in Global History (RPP)

Gabriel Rocha, TTh 9-10:20am

This course examines how the ocean and its denizens have influenced and been shaped by diverse social, material, political, and cultural factors across different spaces and chronologies. We will consider how historical actors across global history have approached the ocean and its creatures as sources of sustenance and power, cosmology and knowledge, conveyance and death. We will weigh, too, how adopting an oceanic perspective can open new ways of understanding the past, present, and future of our planet and its inhabitants. Topics considered include contemporary and historic Indigenous seafaring traditions and maritime subjectivities across Moana/Pacific and other oceanic basins; Atlantic seaborne empires, piracy, human trafficking in the age of sail; the establishment of oceanography as a scholarly discipline; the evolution of maritime transportation infrastructure under global capitalism; the political ecology of a warming ocean in the era of climate crisis.

HIST 0233 Colonial Latin America (WRIT)

Jeremy Mumford, TTh 9-10:20am

Colonial Latin America, from Columbus's voyage in 1492 to Independence in the nineteenth century, was the creation of three peoples: Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans. Spanish and Portuguese conquerors brought with them the world of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Renaissance. Native Americans lived there already, in rich empires and hunter-gatherer bands. Africans came as slaves from Senegal, Nigeria, Congo and Angola, bringing old traditions and creating new ones. These diverse peoples blended together to form a new people. This was a place of violence, slavery and oppression -- but also of art, faith, new societies, new ideas.

HIST 1360 Amazonia from the Prehuman to the Present 

Neil Safier, MWF 2-2:50pm

This course merging lecture and discussions will examine the fascinating and contested history of one of the world’s most complex fluvial ecosystems: Amazonia, in equatorial South America, from its pre-human history to the present day. The course will include readings and discussions on the region’s ecological origins; the social history of its diverse Indigenous and immigrant populations, including African-descended peoples; exploration myths and European colonial projects; and more recent efforts to exploit and protect Amazonia’s extraordinary natural and human resources. The course will use tools and resources from archaeology, anthropology, biology, and social and cultural history, and will also examine popular representations of the Amazon through novels, newspapers, podcasts, and film.

NAHU 0100 Beginning Nahuatl (RPP)

Eduardo de la Cruz Cruz, TTh 10am-12pm

Once the lingua franca of the Aztec Empire, Nahuatl is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Mexico and in North America as a whole, with 1.7 million speakers and 30 variants. As the vehicle of centuries-old knowledge transmitted orally, Nahuatl offers an entry point into the cultures and worldviews of various indigenous communities today, both in Mexico and its diaspora. This online course offers an introduction to Nahuatl (Huasteca variant) through an immersive methodology focused on developing your speaking, listening comprehension, reading and writing, while fostering your cultural sensibility and competence. Ability to understand Spanish is desirable. Language of instruction is Nahuatl and Spanish.

NAHU 0300 Intermediate Nahuatl (RPP)

Eduardo de la Cruz Cruz, TTh 1-3pm

Intermediate Nahuatl offers students the opportunity to learn new themes and cultural practices of the Nahua communities of Chicontepec after NAHU 0100 and NAHU 0200. The approach is geared towards developing communication skills at an intermediate level. These skills will also allow students to explore colonial documents written in classical Nahuatl. The teaching method employs a communicative and cultural approach designed to develop both language proficiency and cultural competence. This is achieved through activities related to specific functions, contexts, grammar, and vocabulary relevant to everyday life situations in an indigenous community. Sessions are highly participatory and interactive, and small group work is often used. The course is mostly taught in Nahuatl to encourage its use and practice in classes.

NAHU 0500 Advanced Nahuatl (RPP)

Eduardo de la Cruz Cruz, TTh 8-10am

Nahuatl III or advanced is a course that offers students the opportunity to learn new themes and cultural practices of the Nahua communities of Chicontepec after NAHU 0100, NAHU 0200, NAHU 0300 and NAHU 0400. The approach is geared towards developing communication skills at an advanced level. These skills will also allow students to explore colonial documents written in classical Nahuatl. The teaching method employs a communicative and cultural approach designed to develop both language proficiency and cultural competence. This is achieved through activities related to specific functions, contexts, grammar, and vocabulary relevant to everyday life situations in an indigenous community. Sessions are highly participatory and interactive, and small group work is often used. The Nahuatl III course is mostly taught in Nahuatl, to encourage its use and practice in classes.

POBS 0630D A Luta Continua: African, Asian, & Indigenous Responses to Coloniality in the Lusophone World (RPP, WRIT)

Instructor TBD, TTh 2:30-3:50pm

In this course we will examine the reverberations of anticolonial movements in Portuguese-speaking African and Asian territories, as well as in Indigenous movements in Brazil. Focusing on political, social, and cultural dimensions of emancipation, we will ask: How have African, Asian, and Indigenous writers and artists imagined emancipatory endeavors for their peoples, their countries, and their worlds? What is the role of cultural expression in world-sharing and world-building in response to centuries of colonialism and its legacies? We will broach these questions by reading a broad range of texts, watching films and documentaries, and looking at works of art that respond to manifestations of colonial power. This course also aims to build written and oral proficiency in Portuguese and develop knowledge of the diverse cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world. Conducted in Portuguese.

POBS 2500C Brazilian Landscapes of Crisis and Hope

Leila Lehnen, W 3-5:30pm

How do we imagine human and more than human actors and landscapes marked/marred by coloniality, predatory extractivism, slavery and epistemicide, and their contemporary fallouts? Is it possible to think of alternate futures in light of human-generated environmental crisis? This course focuses on Brazilian literary and cultural production that confronts what Aníbal Quijano termed the “colonial matrix of power” as well as how this framework has sparked multiple forms of resistances that have contributed to a creative de-colonialization of knowledge and the imaginations of other possible futures that confront colonial power in its various iterations. In particular, we will examine the creative relation between decoloniality and nature through works by Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian authors, visual artists, filmmakers, and other cultural agents and activists that reimagine the interactions between and possible common futures of humans and more than humans.

RELS 0090B Indigenous Ecologies (FYS)

Mark Cladis, W 3-5:30pm

A collaborative exploration of (mainly North American) Indigenous traditions, practices, and beliefs in relation to ecology. We will learn about a variety of Indigenous environmental perspectives and practices as expressed by Indigenous authors, elders, film producers, and community members. Topics will include: Indigenous knowledge systems, environmental activism, sacred lands, the importance of place, kinship relations to the human and more-than-human, climate change adaptation, storytelling, tribal and food sovereignty, and how settler colonialism and dispossession have affected Indigenous populations in their relation to the environment. Additionally, we will learn about Brown University’s relation to local Indigenous lands and populations, and how Indigenous research methods can inform the Brown community of scholars. Our community of learning will discuss broad topics that relate to life and learning at the University, and will offer guidance and support for students’ first year experience at Brown.