Seminar Descriptions – MA and PhD Programs

For accessibility reasons, the French and English seminar descriptions are now presented on separate pages. View the French descriptions.

2017-2018


ANT 5100 Comparative Theoretical Approaches in Anthropology: the French and Anglo-American Traditions (3 units)

Professor: Gandsman, Ari Edward
Fall 2017

Upcoming


ANT 5141 Research Methodology in Anthropology (3 units)

Professor: Stalcup, Meg
Fall 2017

In this course we equip ourselves to engage in anthropological research on and in the contemporary. A central premise of the seminar is that this work we do together is part of doing anthropology. A series of questions will orient us through the semester. How do we do anthropology today? Who do we have to be to do it? With what tools and tactics should we proceed? And what do we hope to achieve? 

Anthropology here is a science and a vocation, and in our study and practice of its methods we will bring together concern with the epistemological (the tools scholars have available to produce anthropological knowledge, as well as the crafting of new ones); the ontological (discerning or determining anthropological objects); and the ethical (the ways in which we as well as our interlocutors become subjects capable of accessing knowledge, and have relations with others and the things around us). 

As part of our collaborative inquiry, we will read proposals for and exemplars of anthropology of the contemporary from a range of anthropologists, along with philosophical texts that will both push us to interrogate our goals and offer conceptual tools. In complement to these close textual readings and discussions, students will gain experience with core methods, and prepare themselves for thesis research through fieldwork and writing exercises. Participant-observation (online and off), interviews, and a literature review will serve as the empirical basis for a semester-long ethnographic project that should be directly preliminary to or the beginning of actual thesis research. We pay equal attention to writing, as method and creative result, and will work on fieldnotes, interview transcription, and writing up in the genre of an academic article.


ANT 6101 Selected Topics in Political Anthropology and Socio-Cultural Change (3 units)

Professor Kurtovic, Larisa
Winter 2018

This graduate seminar offers a survey of ongoing debates in political anthropology that seek to register and diagnose shifts in political imagination and political practice in our turbulent times.  In foregrounding recent ethnographic monographs, we will work to better understand and render portable anthropology’s distinctive approach to political life, in both its historically situated and traveling forms.  Topics covered will include practices of neoliberal governance, redistribution and care, humanitarian aspiration and affect, secular politics and religious life, activist politics, materiality and environmental ruination. Simultaneously, we will work on further conceptualizing your own projects by figuring out how to pose anthropological research questions and how to conceive of the relationship between theoretical concepts and ethnographic material.


ANT 6102 Social and Cultural Anthropology: Fundamental Issues (3 units)

Professor: Gandsman, Ari Edward
Fall 2017

Upcoming


ANT 6150 Research Proposal in Anthropology (3 units)

Professor: Sick, Deborah
Winter 2018

This course will provide students with tools and strategies for designing a theoretically grounded and feasible research project. The course aims to familiarize students with the process of  designing a research project and writing a research proposal: from the formulation of a feasible research objective via a review of relevant academic literatures, to the selection of research design and data collection methodologies to reach that objective, to logistical and ethical issues related to conducting ethnographic research. Developing a research project is a process and proposal writing has its own particular logic. To help students along their path of developing a significant, cohesive, and feasible research project, the course will be run primarily as a workshop in which students present and provide feedback on various stages of each other’s projects. 


SOC 6101 Research Design in Sociology (3 units)

Professor: López, José
Winter 2018

What does it mean to think sociologically? We often associate thinking sociologically with familiarity with sociological theories and concepts, being able to critically read and understand existing sociological research in a given domain, or with knowledge of the diverse suite of methods available to contemporary sociologists. While thinking sociologically certainly involves all of these, it is the ability to link all of these aspects in a coherent, structured reflexive process that we call research that distinguishes sociological from other forms of thought. Research is not an easy practice to convey, not least because it is composed of a variety of tacit mental and non-mental processes, of which sometimes researchers themselves are unaware.

Fortunately, “research” is most clearly crystallised in one of the key artefacts of sociological practice, namely the seemingly ordinary research proposal. Although the research proposal is frequently understood as a formulaic template in which one only has to slot in the appropriate information, the reality is that its generalized uniformity belies the creative and vital sociological thinking that it encapsulates.

The introduction, which ironically is the last thing to be written, the literature review, the statement of the problem – also known in our School by the French term “problematization”, the research question, the theoretical framework, and the methodology are not just sections in a document but key moments in the actual process of thinking sociologically, which is inseparable from undertaking research be it empirical or theoretical.

Consequently, the objective of the seminar is not only to familiarise you with the different components of the research proposal, but also to open up a critical space of reflection on these components and how they fit together. Whether you are writing an article, preparing a scholarship application, submitting a grant proposal, or developing your thesis research, some variation of the processes involved in developing a research proposal will be involved. As a result, this seminar is not merely concerned with helping you work through the steps involved in the research proposal, it also aims to help you mature your ability to think sociologically.


SOC 7101 Citizenship and Rights (3 units)

Professor: Denis, Claude
Winter 2018

Both “citizenship” and “rights” are widely used notions in contemporary public life, even as they are specifically defined legal concepts and much debated themes in social science literature. This seminar will study these various uses of citizenship and rights, the interface between them and, in particular, the ways in which current sociological (and, more widely, social science) literature articulates them. Citizenship and rights are often described as increasingly multiple and complex, when compared with previous uses and understandings. We will explore the ways in which this is (or not) an accurate characterization - at the level of the state, or at infra-state or multi/inter/trans-national levels. At least as a starting point, we will pay particular attention to how these dynamics are expressed in North America (as comprised of Canada, the United States and Mexico).


SOC 7102 Migration and Mobility (3 units)

Professor: Couton, Philippe
Fall 2017

The objective of this seminar is to discuss some of the recent, significant literature on migration focusing primarily on population movements into the western world from a Canadian and global perspective. Major dimensions of human migration will be discussed including citizenship, policy and political aspects of immigrant in and outflows, the impact of migration on labour markets, the spread of cosmopolitan ideals, and the political implication of rising mobility and transnational mobilization.


SOC 7103 Sociology of the Environment (3 units)

Professor: Young, Nathan
Fall 2017

This seminar will examine contemporary cases and theories of environmental problems, conflicts, and change. While environmental problems are often discussed using the language of the natural sciences, they invariably have strong social dimensions. Environmental conflicts are key expression points for competing interests, imbalances in power, conflicting values, and different ways of knowing the world.  The seminar will examine each of these dimensions.  It will look at the social construction of environmental values, theories of human-nature interactions, framing and communication conflicts, Aboriginal issues, scarcity and violence, disasters, environmental governance, and knowledge conflicts.


SOC 7106 The Life course and Generations (3 units)

Professor: Scobie, Willow
Fall 2017

This seminar critically examines the lifecourse literature, with an eye to drawing links to broader social changes evident in personal and interpersonal dynamics. We will examine the relationship between individual and structural conditions, such as Heinz and Krüger’s (2001) argument that the life course is “a major institution of integration and tension between individual and society that provides the social and temporal contexts” (29).

We will look at the lifecourse as a substantive, theoretical, and a methodological approach. It will also be a jumping off point for discussions of political, social, and economic changes as context. We will explore normative ideas of the lifecourse, as well as consider a historical perspective on the contemporary argument that the lifecourse has become “destandardized, de-institutionalized, and individualized” (Macmillan, 2005). We will also draw upon literature that critiques normative ideas about the lifecourse as a racialized, historically, and culturally specific idea. This course will include themes such as youth, transitions, education and employment, fertility, relationships, ageing, and death and dying.


SOC 7108 Sociology of Health (3 units)

Professor: Knaapen, Loes
Winter 2018

This course is a graduate level seminar within the area of the sociology of health, its main objective will be to examine how medicine and illness are shaped by society, and how society (from social norms to the pharmaceutical industry) is shaped by medicine and illness. We will examine these issues from the patient’s perspective, but also examine the knowledge and practices by which medical professionals diagnose and treat disease (or fail to do so). The course’s readings are drawn primarily from work within the field of Science & Technology Studies, using socio-historical and ethnographic methods to examine the many ways we understand and intervene in health and illness.

To get a better understanding of this large research area, the course will focus on the use, production and contestation of biomedical knowledge. Amongst the topics to be covered are the emergence of the “evidence based medicine” (EBM) movement, and the rise of patient activism. By placing randomized clinical trials at the top of a knowledge hierarchy, EBM has redefined what is good health care, and changed the relations between medicine, industry and government. Patients and activists (e.g. feminists, humanitarian workers) have contested and contributed to medical research in diverse ways. They not only have redefined what counts as knowledge (e.g. experiential knowledge), but have created new kinds of biosocial identities (e.g. biological citizenship).

Using the question “What counts as medical knowledge?” as a starting point, students will be able to explore different historical periods, different sites (from biomedical laboratories to hospice care to internet fora), and consider the interests of diverse social actors (e.g. doctors, biostatisticians, patients, policy makers, industry). The course’s goal will be to explore how even the most  ‘objective’ medical practice or knowledge can be understood in historical, cultural and political ways. This will improve our understanding of the powerful ways in which medicine (re)defines and intervenes in our social, cultural and material world.


SOC 7110 Contemporary Sociological Theories (3 units)

Professor: Denis, Claude
Fall 2017

The contemporary practice of sociological theory is as dynamic as it is diverse. As such, no individual course could hope to encompass its whole range. This seminar will instead study a limited number of key words and ways of theorizing sociologically that have emerged since the 1960s, taking note of their sources and inspiration in previous theorizing but focusing on their original and emergent character. This is a period characterized by decolonization, gender struggles and other major social movements and transformations, all of which find expression in sociological theory. Starting from this socio-historical anchoring, we will work mainly on the following themes: discourse, fields, modernities, sexuality, colonialism, governmentality, biopolitics and posthumanism.


SOC 7112 Selected Topics in Contemporary Sociology (3 units)

Professor: Goldmann, Gustave J.
Winter 2018

Canadian society has been variously described as multicultural, multiethnic, complex, multilingual, a mosaic, ageing and regional, to name but a few labels. Each of these labels touches on one aspect of Canadian society and, collectively, they paint a portrait of a complex organism that presents a challenge for governments, policy analysts and social scientists working in the field of population studies.  A great deal of the research in population studies is motivated to inform public policy development and assessment. This seminar will focus on two aspects of public policy – population policies such as those associated with the Indigenous populations of Canada and immigration and social policies that focus on the health, education and general well-being of the members of Canadian society. This seminar will expose students to contemporary literature on population and social policies and on the policy development cycle. Students will also be exposed to empirical studies that serve to inform and evaluate public policies. Particular focus will be placed on the situation of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and on policies dealing with the current demographic trends of population ageing and population growth.


SOC 7140 Advanced Quantitative Methodology (3 units)

Professor: Rippey, Phyllis
Fall 2017

This course is an advanced level course in some of the quantitative research methods used by sociologists and other social scientists.  The goals of this course are to (1) teach you how to carry out a secondary data analysis using nationally representative data, from concept formation through to the presentation of results; (2) teach you how to read and evaluate quantitative sociological research in the literature; and (3) introduce you to a range of more advanced quantitative methods used by sociologists. Students will learn both the formulae for calculating statistics as well as practical hands-on skills in analyzing Statistics Canada data in SPSS.


SOC 7141 Advanced Qualitative Methodology (3 units)

Professor: Rodgers, Kathleen
Winter 2018

Upcoming


SOC 7150 Interethnic Relations: Critical Examination of Theories and Research (3 units)

Professor: Gueye, Abdoulaye
Fall 2017

Ethnic diversity characterizes most of the contemporary societies. This reality stems from a variety of factors which the acceleration and rise of the influx of migrants, the colonialist past of some Western countries, the liberalization of the right of entry and residence that has become less and less based on discriminatory criteria such as ethnicity, race and gender.

The purpose of this seminar is two-fold:

  • It will engage in a critical reading of the theoretical literature on ethnicity. Delving into empirical studies covering a large range of countries, a thorough discussion of the different approaches of ethnicity will be undertaken.
  • It will unveil the determinants of ethnic relations, as well as its forms of expression so as to tackle questions such as: How and to what extent the past, the phenotype, and religion inform relations between ethnic groups? Why relations between two given ethnic groups are often conflicting, whereas other ethnic groups interact in a more pacific way?Why does the nature of relations between two specific ethnic groups change depending on the countries where they are cohabiting?

SOC 7171 Research Seminar in Political Sociology (3 units)

Professor: Rodgers, Kathleen
Winter 2018

Upcoming


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