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News | August 14, 2019

‘Vehicle ranching’ in Seattle: Inside the underground market of renting RVs to homeless people

Richard Winn considered himself a decent landlord, particularly in a cutthroat rental market like Seattle’s. Sometimes his tenants did not pay their $75 weekly rent, and weren’t required to sign a lease or put down a deposit. But there were trade-offs. Winn never gave residents keys to their units. Tenants were not to use the…

Degree Program

Anthropology (BA, BS)

Anthropology is one of those rare fields that touches on all others. It is not a "conveyor belt" to a specific job, but, rather, an avenue to reach many possible career paths. Anthropologists today don't just work in exotic locals, but are making significant contributions right here at home. They can be found working in…

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Course | ANTH 427

Anthropology in Urban Settings

Cross-cultural examination of theoretical issues in anthropology as studied in urban places. Focuses on ethnic identity and the formation of urban ethnic groups; migration and its rural and urban consequences; family and kinship organization as an adaptation to urban complexity; the nature of urban voluntary associations; law and politics; and the developments in anthropological method.

Course | ENVIR 371, ANTH 371

Anthropology of Development

Development refers to social, economic, cultural, political transformations viewed as progress. Studied from anthropological perspectives. Historical, social context for emergence of ideas of development. Role of development in promoting national cultures. Impact of development on individual citizenship, families, rural-urban relations, workers, business, environment.

Course | ANTH 376

Anthropology of Disability

Introduces anthropological perspectives on disability. Considers disability as produced through the interaction of bodily impairments with social structures, political economies, cultural norms and values, individual and group identities, institutional orders, medical practices, assistive technologies, and other factors. Considers ethnographic studies of disability in international as well as U.S. settings.

Degree Program

Anthropology of Globalization

Anthropology of Globalization is a new and exciting option in the Anthropology Major that explores several aspects of today’s interconnected world, including, economic exchanges, new media, human migration, and circulating knowledge. Unique to our program is a focus not only on contemporary multicultural and global exchanges, but also the deep history of such processes over…

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Course | ANTH 540

Anthropology of Place

Explores a variety of ways that "place" has been studied and theorized. Attention paid to places as they are sensed, inscribed, practiced, narrated, scripted, created, and reclaimed. "Place" also discussed in relation to issues of the environment, travel, diaspora, race, class, and gender.

News | December 3, 2019

As more people use RVs as homes, should cities find a place for them?

Graham Pruss is familiar with the trials and tribulations of living out of an RV. As part of his research for his anthropology PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle, Pruss bought and lived in an RV for five months. Within the first 12 hours of doing so, he says, police issued him tickets and former…

Course | ANTH 207

Class and Culture in America

Anthropological view of the contemporary United States with emphasis on social class. Through ethnographic readings examines education, work, political economy, working class experience and the ideology of the middle class, and relations between class and race, gender, ethnicity, language, place, sexuality, and culture.

Course | ANTH 463

Critiques of Contemporary Capitalism

Karl Marx inaugurated radical reworkings of both social theory and political action. Begins with some of his seminal writings, then considers the Frankfurt School, British labor theory, and postcolonial theory. Uses these readings to understand economy and subjectivity produced through the aporias of late capitalism.

Course | ANTH 541

Cultural Aspects of International Development

Emergence of development as an aspect of late colonialism and the decolonization process. Ways in which development came to visualize social change in sectoral terms like rural land use, cities, and education, while objectifying people in target groups. Relationships between development and modernity, and development and globalization.

Course | ANTH 150

Culture and Rights: Exploring the Meaning and Practice of Human Rights

Examines social justice issues with the aim of obtaining deeper understanding of human rights. Analyzes historical and theoretical foundations and introduces international and regional institutions designed to implement and enforce human rights. Case studies in sovereignty, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, genocide, torture, truth commissions, and forgiveness.

Course | AES 487 / ANTH 487

Cultures and Politics of Environmental Justice

Comparative survey of environmental justice movements in the world with focus on critical studies of environmental racism, risk, and sustainable development. Provides theoretical knowledge and research methods incorporating the study of equity and autonomy in environmental impact and risk assessment and other aspects of environmental policy politics.

Course | ANTH 280

Cultures of Global Capital

Designed to introduce students to the study of cross-border phenomenon including global capital, migration, international philanthropy, and terrorism from an anthropological perspective. Introduces theories of globalization and the approaches anthropologists have taken in studying patterns of movement and circulation.


Danny Hoffman

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News | July 7, 2016

Data Science for Social Good 2016

This summer we are thrilled to be supporting the eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) program. Modeled after similar programs at the University of Chicago and Georgia Tech, with elements from eScience’s own Data Science Incubator, sixteen DSSG Student Fellows have been working with academic researchers, data scientists, and public stakeholder groups on…


Devon Pena

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Course | ANTH 497 / LSJ 425

Domesticating International Human Rights: Perspectives on U.S. Asylum and Refugee Law

Examines the creation, production, and proliferation of law and legal categories relating to the status of refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States. Integrates anthropological perspectives of law's ability to create meaning in the examination of deeper implications of asylum and refugee law in American society.

Course | AES 211 / ANTH 211 / ENVIR 211

Environmental Justice

Examines introductory studies of environmental racism and ecological injustice in the United States and select areas of the world. Reviews environmental justice theories and methods applied to risk science, ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development. Includes comparative studies of social movements for "eco-justice."

Course | ANTH 101

Exploring Sociocultural Anthropology

Introduces perspectives from sociocultural anthropology on the diversity and the dynamics of collective human life. Examines how individual lives are shaped by broader social and cultural contexts, how people make meaning, and how power relations work. Introduces ethnography as a method for documenting and understanding social and cultural life.

News | June 6, 2019

Homelessness drops 8% in Seattle but more live in tents

The number of homeless in Seattle dropped nearly 8% over the last two years reflecting an across the board drop in nearly all categories. But there was an increase in the number of people living unsheltered in tents and encampments and that’s where Seattle’s Navigation Team focuses on. Mayor Durkan announced on Friday an expansion…

Course | ANTH 325 / CHSTU 322

Indigenous Knowledge and Public Health in Mexican and Latinx Origin Communities

Critical medical anthropologies of public health through environmental justice/decolonial methods and groundings in ethnoscientific knowledge. Forces impinging on 'racialized' health regimes in Mexican/Latinx communities through study of structural violence, historical trauma and related disparities and inequities. Emphasis on healthcare and caring labor via decolonial critiques of settler colonialism, commodification, and indigenous survivance.

Course | ANTH 373

Labor, Identity, and Knowledge in Healthcare

Presents anthropological perspectives on provision of healthcare as a complex social phenomena. Examines division of labor, and how social groups come to occupy particular positions. Considers how knowledge and skills are gained, how they are recognized and valued, and may become sources of identity.

Course | ANTH 533

Law, Liberalism, and Modernity

Examines relationships between law, culture, and power through post-structuralist theories that consider subjectivity, agency, and identity. Explores connections between modern liberal law and the body, possessive individualisms, and discourses of rights. Topics include rights-talk, globalization, biopolitics, subject-making, modern nation-states, the rule of law, neo-liberalism, and legal cultures.

Course | ANTH 448, JSIS A 448

Modern Korean Society

Social organization and values of twentieth-century Korea. Changes in family and kinship, gender relations, rural society, urban life, education, and industrial organization since 1900. Differences between North and South Korea since 1945.

Course | ANTH 316, JSIS A 316

Modern South Asia

Twentieth-century history and society of Indian subcontinent. Topics include nationalism, rural and urban life, popular culture, gender, and environmental politics.

Course | ANTH 437

Political Anthropology and Social Change

Study of politics from different anthropological perspectives, especially processual approaches to political change. Focused examination of cultural aspects of modern state formation in local and regional contexts. Themes: colonialism and nationalism, regime and transitions, local politics and global processes, social construction of bureaucracy.

Course | ANTH 444 / JSIS A 403

Politics of Representation in Modern China

Focuses on issues of representation and power in twentieth century China. Combines substantive information on modern Chinese society and culture with recent debates in social theory and the politics of representation. Major themes include Chinese nationalism, body politics, popular culture, and everyday practice.


Rachel R. Chapman

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News | June 11, 2019

Seattle’s forgotten street community: UW anthropologist talks about the unique circumstances of vehicle residency

From tiny houses to encampment sweeps, from proposed business taxes to small armies of volunteers, Seattle’s homeless crisis has sparked a series of possible solutions, along with controversy. But often missing from conversations about “homelessness,” says the University of Washington’s Graham Pruss, is attention to people who live in their vehicles. More than 11,000 people are…

Course | ANTH 339 / GWSS 339 / JSIS A 339

Social Movements in Contemporary India

Covers issues of social change, economic development, and identity politics in contemporary India studied through environmental and women's movements. Includes critiques of development and conflicts over forests, dams, women's rights, religious community, ethnicity, and citizenship.

Course | ANTH 449, JSIS A 405

Social Transformation of Modern East Asia

Comparative study of social change in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam since 1945. Concentration on small-scale social units in rural and urban areas under both communist and capitalist political systems.

Course | ANTH 433 / LING 433

Sociolinguistics II

Examines field methods linguists use in socially oriented studies of language variation and change. Includes language attitudes, study of urban dialects, syntactic variation, sampling and interview design. Discussion of issues related to recording, ethics, and analysis of large bodies of data.

Course | ANTH 412, JSIS A 412

South Asian Social Structure

Examines caste, class, and community in modern India. Transitions from colonial typology to analysis of social change, diversity, stability, and caste hierarchy in rural society. Current debates on class and community in Indian society, rural and urban, explored through themes of identity, structure, and mobility.

News | March 16, 2016

Southern Urbanisms: Edgar Pieterse and Jean-Marie Teno (1 cr. seminar)

This microseminar addresses the emergence of global urbanisms and especially southern urbanisms, focusing on the dramatic urbanization of Africa and the resurgence of African urban studies. The course is coordinated with the visits of the influential scholar of African urbanisms Edgar Pieterse (University of Cape Town) and renowned African filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno. Their visit provides…


Stevan Harrell

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Course | ANTH 378

Sustainability, Resilience, and Society

Introduction to concepts of sustainability and resilience and their relevance to environment and society in the current Anthropocene era. Understanding sustainability and resilience through ecological footprints, lessons from small-scale societies, case studies of resource management, theory of common property regimes, philosophies of environmental stewardship, and implications of climate change.

News | March 3, 2020

The Effects of Seattle Housing Crisis

Aaron, who lives with his wife Silje and their two children in a parking lot outside of Seattle, begins his day in darkness, making a two-hour commute by scooter and bus to his job at the post office.  “You do what you need to get through a given day. You get rest when you can,”…

Course | ANTH 405

Urban Health Methodologies: Ethnography of the Invisible in search of New Urban Commons

Conduct urban anthropology field-research and examine paths for human liberation while exploring connections between contemporary urban anthropology theoretical perspectives, critical medical anthropology, and new and emerging social possibilities for new urban commons. Emphasis placed on ethnographic methods, introduced through field exercises that require the application of one or more techniques.

Course | GWSS 345 / ANTH 345 / JSIS B 345

Women and International Economic Development

Questions how women are affected by economic development in Third World and celebrates redefinitions of what development means. Introduces theoretical perspectives and methods to interrogate gender and development policies. Assesses current processes of globalization and potential for changing gender and economic inequalities.