Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
ams masthead
Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2010

AMS 321 • Urban Anthropology

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29765 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM

Course Description

Over the thirty years in which urban anthropology has developed into an identifiable subfield, it has moved towards a cohesive paradigm, linking together anthropology's interests in meaning and agency to political and economic models of urban structure. The goal of this course is to look at the ways in which urban anthropologists work—theoretically and methodologically—in order to uncover the interaction between significant structural forces and culturally produced meaning and action on the ground in a variety of cities across the globe.

With these goals in mind, the course is organized around exploring the following: 1) structural frameworks for contextualizing cities; 2) strategies for analysis of cities and urban populations: top-down (looking at the powerful) and bottom-up (looking at the less powerful), considering the role ethnographic fieldwork can play in revealing this; 3) current themes of the sub-field including: neighborhoods, space as structured by the state and the market, urban social movements, poverty and class as mapped onto the city; global cities and processes of globalization; theories of place and public space, the circulation of media forms in urban space, and trends in urban planning, landscape design and architecture as an anthropological concern. The course also enables students to design and conduct an original, small-scale project using the Austin area as an urban field site to illuminate these themes. To this end, there will be a series of four intensive week-long, in-class ethnographic workshops for students to sample specialized methodologies, present their works-in-progress and receive constructive feedback from course-members and the instructor.


Possible Texts Low, Setha (ed.). 1999. Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Gmelch, George and Walter P. Zenner (eds). 2001. Urban Life: Readings in the Anthropology of the City


bottom border