Course Offerings

Fall 2019 NAIS Course Offerings

AMST 2220P Diaspora and Indigeneity

  • Kevin Escudero, Th 4-6:30pm

  • This graduate seminar explores the interrelated concepts of diaspora and indigeneity. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from American Studies, history, anthropology, and law, students will explore the relationship between diasporic and indigenous communities in the United States, Canada, Middle East, Caribbean and Pacific Ocean. In the process, conversations will focus on how struggles for migrant justice can take place while critically engaging with the settler colonial legacies of many nation-states moving towards a politics of collective liberation.

AMST 2694 Decolonizing Public Humanities: Intersectional Approaches to Curatorial Work + Community Organizing

  • Micah Salkind, T 4pm-630pm

  • This course will decenter experiences and cultural expectations attendant to whiteness, cis-maleness, able-bodiedness, heterosexuality, and middle/upper-classness in the public humanities,and thereby explore the contemporary problems and possibilities of intersectional approaches in the field. What do contemporary paradigms of “diversity,” “public engagement,” and “cultural organizing” have to teach us about effective and ethical public humanities approaches? Do different, multiply marginalized communities of affinity practice entirely different public humanities? How are cultural interventions changing to accommodate the demands of an increasingly segmented public sphere?

ANTH 1125 Indigenous Archaeologies 

  • Robert Preucel, TTh 10:30-11:50am

  • 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.

ETHN 1200B Contemporary Indigenous Education in North America

  • Adrienne Keene, Th 4-6:30pm

  • 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.

ETHN 1200I History and Resistance in Representations of Native Peoples 

  • Adrienne Keene, W 3-5:30pm

  • 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

  • Elizabeth Hoover, TTh 2:30-3:50pm

  • Introduces students to both historical and contemporary issues in North America, examining issues of sovereignty, representation and self-representation, culture, politics, and history. Because this course is inter-disciplinary, we will use texts from Indigenous studies, anthropology, cultural studies, history, film and literature as tools to understand and appreciate the ways in which American Indian cultures survive, flourish and shape the United States. No special background is required. All students are welcome. Enrollment limited to 30.

ETHN 1750B Treaty Rights and Food Fights: Eating Local in Indian Country

  • Elizabeth Hoover, TTh 1-2:20pm

  • In many Native American communities the push to "eat local" is often based on reviving a traditional food culture as well as a way of promoting better health. This class explores the disparate health conditions faced by Native communities, and the efforts by many groups to address these health problems through increasing community access to traditional foods, whether by gardening projects or a revival of hunting and fishing traditions. We will examine the ways in which Native food movements have converged and diverged from general American local food movements, and the struggles they often face in reviving treaty-guaranteed food ways.

HIAA 1882 Indigenous Art, Issues and Concepts 

  • Marina Tyquiengco, M 3-5:30pm

  • 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.

HISP 1331E Visions and Voices of Indigenous Mexico

  • Iris Montero, MWF 1-1:50pm

  • “In Mexico we are all mixed” goes a popular dictum, placing mestizaje at the core of what it means to be Mexican. One fifth of the population, however, self identifies as indigenous (pueblos originarios), and keeps experiencing various forms of discrimination for not abiding by the dominant national discourse. HISP 1331E explores three pilars of indigenous identity –land’s gifts, material culture and language– to inquire how indigeneity has been deployed and reclaimed by indigenous groups through time. Materials include pre-Hispanic and Colonial codices, murals and objects, and present day literary works, music and cinema, with one hour of Nahuatl basics per week.

HIST 1310 History of Brazil

  • James Green, TTh 2:30-3:50pm

  • This course charts the history of Brazil from Portuguese contact with the indigenous population in 1500 to the present. It examines the country's political, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural development to understand the causes, interactions, and consequences of conflict, change, and continuity within Brazilian society.

HIST 1331 The Rise and Fall of the Aztecs: Mexico, 1300-1600

  • Robert Cope, MWF 12-12:50pm

  • This course will chart the evolution of the Mexica (better known as the Aztecs) from nomads to the dominant people of central Mexico; examine their political, cultural, and religious practices (including human sacrifice); explore the structure and limitations of their empire; and analyze their defeat by Spanish conquistadors and their response to European colonization. We will draw upon a variety of pre- and post-conquest sources, treating the Aztecs as a case study in the challenges of ethnohistory. 

HIST 1340 History of the Andes from Incas to Evo Morales

  • Jeremy Mumford, TTh 9-10:20am

  • Before the Spanish invaded in the 1530s, western South America was the scene of the largest state the New World had ever known, Tawantinsuyu, the Inca empire. During almost 300 years of colonial rule, the Andean provinces were shared by the "Republic of Spaniards" and the "Republic of Indians" - two separate societies, one dominating and exploiting the other. Today the region remains in many ways colonial, as Quechua- and Aymara-speaking villagers face a Spanish-speaking state, as well as an ever-more-integrated world market, the pressures of neoliberal reform from international banks, and the melting of the Andean glaciers.

HIST 2981Q Histories of Empire and Decolonization

  • Jennifer Johnson, W 3-5:30pm

  • For most of history humans have not lived within neatly bound nation-states. Rather, empires often organized the political, economic and social lives of diverse peoples. But the age of empire came to a dramatic end by the middle of the twentieth century. How and why did this rapid transformation occur and how have the legacies of colonialism continued to shape former colonies and metropoles? This course, which examines theories and case studies of empire and decolonization throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, seeks to address these questions, through key concepts including racial difference, citizenship, self-determination, settler colonialism, nationalism, and decolonization.

LACA 1503Q Politics of Indigeneity in Brazil

  • Estevao Rafael Fernandes, W 3-5:30pm

  • This course examines the politics of indigeneity in Brazil. First, it examines the relationship between native peoples and settlers, especially the Jesuits, Portuguese colonists, and the Portuguese Crown. Our purpose is to understand images of savagery and innocence as part of colonial imaginary in Brazilian’s imaginary about natives. Next, we will explore how indigenous peoples were understand by scientists and naturalists, and how these discussions are important in understanding notions about race in Brazil. Finally, we examine the relationships between native peoples and the State during the Republic, with a focus on contemporary issues, such as development, the environment, and social movements.

MUSC 0640 Ghanaian Drumming and Dancing Ensemble

  • Martin Obend, W 5-7:20pm

  • A dynamic introductory course on drumming, dancing, and singing of Ghana and the diaspora. Students learn to perform diverse types of African music, including Ewe, Akan, Ga, and Dagomba pieces on drums, bells, and shakers. No prerequisites. May be repeated for credit. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission required.

POLS 1820I Indigenous Politics in Hawai'i: Resurgence and Decolonization

  • Mary Tuti Baker, T 4-6:30pm

  • Because kinship relationships to land and all existents of that land are fundamental to Indigenous Peoples, resurgence and decolonization must be studied in the context of specific Indigenous Peoples and the ways they resist colonial violence and build resurgent practices. This course then focuses on these issues with respect to Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians). We will read works from Kanaka Maoli scholar/activists in order to understand the genealogy of Kanaka Maoli resistance and resurgent practices. We also engage with critical Indigenous thinkers in order to understand Indigenous political praxis that is shared across difference and those that are not.


Spring 2020 NAIS Course Offerings

    AMST 2220J Introduction to Critical Race Theory

    • Adrienne Keene, W 3-5:30pm

    • This graduate seminar will explore the foundations and central tenets of Critical Race Theory, from its origins in Critical Legal Studies, to current applications, debates, and evolutions, with particular attention to CRT’s intersections with the field of American Studies. We will also bring in CRT “offshoots” such as TribalCrit, LatCrit, AsianCrit, and DisCrit. CRT posits that racism is endemic to society, but that we must also remain committed to social justice and praxis. How do we navigate these tensions, use CRT to provide a toolkit for navigating scholarship, and work toward social change in the realms of race and racism?

    ANTH 2520 Mesoamerican Archaeology and Ethnohistory

    • Stephen Houston, Th 4-6:30pm

    • Seminar focusing on current issues in the archaeology and history of Mesoamerica, including Mexico and Northern Central America. Draws on rich resources at Brown, including the John Carter Brown Library.

    ETHN 1650E Food Justice and Public Humanities

    • Elizabeth Hoover, Th 4-6:30pm

    • What would food justice look like, and how can this vision best be brought to the general public? This course explores how activists and academics have defined food justice in various communities, the structural challenges that have led to a lack of access to sufficient, healthy, culturally appropriate food, and will culminate in exhibit work exploring how to communicate these issues to a broader public.

    HISP 1330X The Nature of Conquest: Scientific Literatures of the Americas

    • Iris Montero, MWF 1-1:50pm

    • Throughout history, conquest and colonization have implied different kinds of appropriations: control over new lands, new bodies, new languages. With the appropriation of new languages came the confrontation between different ways of organizing the world and, in particular, alternative ways of understanding humankind's relationship to nature. This course explores the scientific literatures that emerged in the wake of Spanish conquest and colonization of the Americas (1500-1800). These hybrid scientific literatures, written in Spanish but also in Nahuatl, Maya, Quechua and graphic forms, illustrate the lasting cross-pollination between Old and New World notions about American nature.

    HIST 0233 Colonial Latin America

    • Jeremy R. Mumford, TTh 10:30-11:50am

    • 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.

    POLS 0920B Introduction to Indigenous Politics with Pacific Islander Focus

    • Mary Tuti Baker, T 4-6:30pm

    • This introductory course in Indigenous political thought engages with critical Indigenous thinkers in order to understand Indigenous political praxis, resurgence and decolonization. Because Indigenous study is place-based and kinship relationships to land and all existents of that land are fundamental to understanding Indigenous political thought, Indigenous politics must be studied in the context of particular indigenous peoples. To that end this course focuses on political movements of contemporary Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian). In addition to developing a fuller understanding of Indigenous political thought, this class also explores what it means to move beyond colonial relationships with the State.

    RELS 02060: Religion Gone Wild: Spirituality and the Environment

    • Mark Cladis, TTh 1-2:20pm

    • A study of the dynamic relation between religion and nature. Religion, in this course, includes forms of spirituality within and outside the bounds of conventional religious traditions (for example, Buddhism and Christianity, on the one hand; ecofeminism and nature writing on the other). Topics in this study of religion, philosophy, and ecology will include environmental justice, environmental degradation, and depictions of humans in relation to the natural world. Of special interest is North American and Australian indigenous spiritual/cultural perspectives on the nexus between the human and the more-than-human. Enrollment limited to 20.

    RELS 1610 Sacred Sites: Law, Politics, and Religion

    • Nathaniel Berman, T 4-6:30pm

    • 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.