Program Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology and Social Change is a 43-unit online degree program with coursework that includes core units and electives, comprehensive exams, a dissertation proposal, and a dissertation seminar.

The online coursework is presented in weekly modules that includes readings, discussion forums, and synchronous and asynchronous video instruction.

Each semester, a week-long, on-campus intensive is also held to foster community-building while also accruing units. Over the week, you will have an inspiring experience that includes fieldwork exercises, skills-based in-person courses, attending public talks and film screenings, and other collaborative sessions.

Course of Study

Semester 1 | Fall
ANTH 6148 Approaches to Theory (3 units)
ANTH 6160 Activist Ethnography (3 units) 
ANTH 6163 Alternative Economic Systems (3 units) 

Semester 2 | Spring 
ANTH 6109 Societies Against the State (3 units)
General Elective(s) (6 units)

Semester 3 | Fall 
ANTH 6166 Other Ways of Being Human (3 units)
ANTH 6890 Social Research Methods (3 units)
General Elective(s) (3 units)

Semester 4 | Spring
ANTH 6172 Other Ways of Knowing (3 units) 
ANTH 7890 Directed Seminar in Research (3 units) 
*General Elective(s) (3 units)

Year 3 
ANTH 9600 Comprehensive Exam (first comp; 3 units)
ANTH 9601 Comprehensive Exam (second comp; 3 units)

Year 4
Dissertation Proposal and Advancement to Candidacy
ANTH 9800 Dissertation Proposal Completion (four times maximum; 0.1 units)
ANTH 9900 Dissertation Completion (four years after advancing to candidacy maximum; 0.1 unit)

*Additional coursework may be required.

Curriculum Highlights 

ANTH 6163 Alternative Economic Systems (3 units) 
This course offers a critical examination of economic possibilities, alternative production systems, and subjectivities that can be considered “postcapitalist” in that they strive to transcend what is conceivable within the current socioeconomic order. The critiques and experiments examined here include both past and present attempts to carve out autonomous spaces of non-capitalist production. We will embark on a journey through popular economic organizations, communal self-management of land, experiments in solidarity economy, community economy, participatory economics, and self-organized workplaces and cooperatives. In doing so, we arrive at a very different notion of “development,” a perspective grounded in a number of noncapitalist or postcapitalist struggles in different parts of the world. Such struggles for dignity and alternative production systems are epistemic, critical, and prefigurative. At once challenging and reimagining development, those struggles contribute to an emerging sensibility that another world is possible (McMichael 2009).

ANTH 6172 Other Ways of Knowing: Alternative Epistemologies, Rival Knowledges, and Systems of Justice (3 units) 
As sociologist and critical legal theorist Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2008) writes, there is no global social justice without global cognitive justice. According to this theorist, epistemicide was the other side of genocide. From a postcapitalist perspective, such recognition is crucial. The epistemological privilege granted to modern science from the 17th century onward, which made possible the technological revolutions that consolidated colonial/capitalist order, was also instrumental in establishing what de Sousa Santos calls “abyssal thinking”: drawing an abyssal line between scientific knowledge and other, nonscientific forms of knowledges. Our intention is to explore how the reinvention of social emancipation is premised upon replacing the “monoculture of scientific knowledge” by an “ecology of knowledges.”

ANTH 6166 Other Ways of Being Human: Alternative Sexualities, Family, and Kinship Systems (3 units) 
Being human under the conditions of late capitalism has become increasingly more precarious as neoliberal forms of governmentality produce less viable forms of life and sociality. Yet we can qualify this statement with two observations. First, a longer history of oppression has been creating an extreme state of uncertainty or “state of emergency.” As Walter Benjamin famously wrote in 1940, “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” Second, alongside the violent legacies of oppression—including colonialism, capitalism, sexism, and others—there have always been forms of resistance, survival, and even flourishing of lives lived otherwise. While human social relations have always been anthropology’s object of study, in this course we will focus on how critical, feminist, queer, and postcolonial theories and experiences have challenged and transformed anthropological engagements with human social and cultural formations. We will consider how categories of difference and experience are not static but shifting and mutually constitutive and always in relation to power. Therefore, much of the scholarship we will be reading thinks through different forms of social belonging, some tethered to normative privileges and others that move toward non-normative or other ways of being. Our approach will be thematic, organized around specific topics, including transpolitics, homonationalism, biopolitics, posthumanism, and multispecies approaches, among others.

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