Activist Anthropology: Toward Antiracism, Decolonization, and Anti-Oppression – Fall 2021

Course Description

How can we use anthropology, both its tools and theories, to actively work towards a better world? In this class, we will collectively address this question in order to construct a framework of anthropology that explicitly aims to bring positive social change to this world through the dismantling of systems of oppression. Although our thematic focus will be on antiracism and decolonization, the theories and practices we will discuss can be used to both further understand and find ways to counteract social injustices in general. Together, we will: look at the basics of the concepts of race and intersectionality, including critical race theory; address the historical and contemporary development of the role of activism in anthropology, focusing on feminist, antiracist, and decolonial critiques and practices; discover and develop our own vision of an anthropology that works towards anti-oppression; and create a framework for applying this vision to a real-world case study that students will select. BIPOC anthropologists, and especially women of color, will be centrally featured in this course. Assignments will include a short essay on an activist ethnography; a manifesto of activist anthropology; and a final project applying your manifesto and developing strategies to challenge a particular system of oppression of your choosing. Students would not be expected to execute this activist research for this class, but it will provide you a well-developed framework for a future project.

Course Outline (Click on the Week for Listed Resources!)