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.


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

Professor: Gandsman, Ari Edward
Fall 2019

Rather than a strict interpretation of a course description that reifies traditions around artificial linguistic dichotomies, this course will examine the continental drift and circulation of knowledge between France and North America.  In particular, in recent decades, French theory has had a seismic impact on North American academia and anthropology in particular, resulting in a fertile cross-pollination of knowledge.  This course will explore the interrelationship between a seminal group of influential theorists and their anthropological interlocutors who have creatively engaged with, critiqued, and reinterpreted their works.

ANT 5141 Research Methodology in Anthropology (3 units)

Professor: Sick, Deborah
Fall 2019

General Course Objectives

This course is designed to provide students with a solid understanding of anthropological research methods and to stimulate critical thinking regarding the selection and use of various methods of data collection and research design in anthropological studies.   In addition to critically examining a variety of standard data collection methods, we will also examine the relationship between theory, research objectives, participant selection, data collection methods, analysis, and write-up.  Through the use of case studies, hands-on exercises, and student-led classroom discussions, students will come to understand better the implications of various research methodologies for meeting specific research objectives and the role that researchers play in the production of knowledge through the choices we make throughout the research process.

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

Professor Kurtovic, Larisa
Winter 2020

This graduate seminar is a survey of ongoing debates in political anthropology focused on both imagination and practice.  In foregrounding recent ethnographic monographs, this course will familiarize students with anthropology’s distinctive approach to political life, in its historically situated and translocal forms. Simultaneously, by looking at contemporary research, students will explore how anthropologists position themselves in relation to ongoing conversations, as well as how they construct links between ethnographic material and theoretical concepts.

ANT 6103 The “Culture” Question in Anthropology (3 units)

Professor: Hewage, Thushara
Fall 2019

The culture concept is foundational to anthropology’s contemporary identity as a distinctive discipline defined by the methodology of ethnographic fieldwork and the exploration of alterity and difference. This course examines the modern concept’s significant contemporary crises, its deconstruction, revision, revivals and substitutions. It asks how these conjunctures and their broader global and political contexts symptomize what the discipline has been and what it might become. We start with the emergence of ‘culture’ in the anti-racist cultural relativism of the Boasian tradition, before studying its influential reformulation in the interpretive, symbolic anthropology of Clifford Geertz. The course then turns to postcolonial and feminist critiques of the concept within work problematizing anthropology’s authority and its historical intimacy with colonial power. We ask how anthropologists now explore the diverse moral values and ethical imaginaries of their subjects in the wake of culture’s seeming demise. Here we alight on the conceptual turns to ethics, ontology, and the everyday within the discipline. Finally, the course examines the migration of the culture concept beyond anthropology with its mobilization in contentious debates over multiculturalism and reparations for historical injustices.

ANT 6150 Research Proposal in Anthropology (3 units)

Professor: Stalcup, Meg
Winter 2020

This course will guide master’s students in anthropology in preparing their thesis research proposals. We will move together through the key stages of the design and writing process, with classes held in a combined seminar-workshop format. This will include presentations by the professor, collective discussion of the parameters of each section of the proposal, and peer critiques for the written sections. Each week we will read one or two short “how-to” and/or conceptual texts about the part of the proposal in preparation, while students will also, in consultation with the professor and thesis supervisor, create an individualized list of readings. This means that, in any given week, students may well be reading largely different texts. Collaboratively, however, work will involve learning how to identify and share what is useful from individual projects with the group, as well as how to insightfully and constructively critique each other’s writing. After an initial, intensive period of brainstorming and workshopping individual topics and research questions, we will spend two weeks on each major section of the proposal, roughly: Research Plan /Methods; Topical Literature Review; Conceptual Framework /Theory; and, finally, the Introduction. Note that the exact name and content of the sections may vary between students, in accordance with the expectations of different thesis supervisors. For each section, students will produce a rough draft, which will be read and critiqued in class, and then have a week to elaborate, refine, and rewrite that same section before returning to workshop the completed version. By the end of the semester, students will have a solid draft of their thesis project proposal, a presentation prepared for the proposal defence, and be ready to proceed after defence with submitting an application to the university’s research ethics board.

Our semester will proceed as follows:

  • Weeks 1 and 2: We begin with defining a topic and basic proposal design. Each student will request a successful proposal from their thesis supervisor, and we will analyze them together toward creating individualized outlines which will serve as guides for the rest of the semester. As the same time, students will begin their individualized reading, which will involve, weekly, selecting and reading at least one anthropology article pertinent to their topic (although you will probably read many more on your own).
  • Week 3 we will concentrate on developing and refining your research question. The research question is the most critical part of your proposal––it guides everything else you need to do and cover in the rest of the proposal.
  • Weeks 4 and 5 we will develop your research plan, that is, how you will answer your question. This also called the methodology section, and will detail who you plan to work with, how you will work (e.g. some combination of participant-observation, interviews, internet methods, media analysis, etc.), and other practical aspects of your research, including where you will go, and when, with a timeline and budget. We will also go over the expectations of the university’s Research Ethics Board, which may require a recruitment script and question instrument.
  • Weeks 6 and 8, we will prepare your topical literature review. This will include the history, background, and anthropological literature pertinent to your topic. In the middle (week 7 is reading week) each student will read one full-length ethnographic monograph related to the proposed research.
  • Weeks 9 and 10, student will write their conceptual framework, also referred to as the theory section (although theoretical concerns are pertinent throughout, especially in anthropological methods). From the weekly articles and monograph, students will already have a solid grasp of major theoretical approaches to their topic within anthropology, and we will take this opportunity to read primary philosophical texts and other literature, such that students can select and explain their chosen conceptual tools.
  • Weeks 11 and 12, we will prepare the Introduction, which will include the statement of problem, research question, project overview, and significance; and put all the pieces together, editing and rewriting each section to reflect the changes and refinements that will have occurred through the semester-long process.

Week 13, students will prepare and present an overview of their project (up to ten minutes) in the format of the official proposal defense, and submit their revised proposal, complete with a title, table of contents, and works cited.

SOC 6101 Research Design in Sociology (3 units)

Professor: Bronson , Kelly
Winter 2020


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.


This is a Master’s level seminar in political anthropology that asks what constitutes and what is specific to the anthropological approach to politics.  Embracing the spirit of what Danilyn Rutherford has recently called “kinky empiricism,” this class privileges recent ethnographic studies of diverse kinds of political engagement (that is, political practices that tend to problematize the very contours of the political), over the more self-confident approaches found in contemporary political philosophy.  You are already amidst of developing a foundation in social theory and will continue to do so with Problematique—the question that remains, however, how to productively bring together these theoretical frameworks with ethnographic material. It is my hope this course’s emphasis on anthropology and ethnographic products will be helpful to you during the process of envisioning and ultimately producing your own Master’s theses

SOC 7102 Migration and Mobility (3 units)

Professor: Couton, Philippe
Fall 2019

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 2019

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, problems of environmental justice, theories of human-nature interactions, framing and communication conflicts, Indigenous issues, scarcity and violence, disasters, environmental governance, and knowledge conflicts. The seminar will address environmental problems at local, regional, and global scales.

SOC 7106 The Life course and Generations (3 units)

Professor: Scobie, Willow
Winter 2020


SOC 7110 Contemporary Sociological Theories (3 units)

Professor: Denis, Claude
Winter 2020

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.

The main authors who will be studied include, in approximate chronological order of their works: Franz Fanon, Samir Amin, Andre Gunder Frank, Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Pierre Bourdieu, Jürgen Habermas, Ernesto Laclau & Chantal Mouffe, Jean-François Lyotard, Paul Rabinow, Rosi Braidotti, Donna Haraway, Giorgio Agamben, Ülrich Beck, Zygmunt Baumann, Bruno Latour, Ann Laura Stoler, Raewyn Connell, Barbara Marshall, and Alexander Weheliye.

SOC 7112 Selected Topics in Contemporary Sociology (3 units)

Professor: Gueye, Abdoulaye
Fall 2019

Sociology of Race and Racism

This seminar examines the dynamics of racial identity formation and racism in modern societies. First, it will discuss major sociological theories of racial formation and racism. Beginning with the works of early theorists, including Durkheim, Weber and DuBois, it pursues with the contributions of more contemporary theorists among whom Omi and Winant, William Julius Wilson, Bonilla-Silva to name a few. Second, the seminar will the venue to discuss empirical works on racial formation and racism. 

SOC 7114 Social Change (3 units)

Professor: Scobie, Willow
Fall 2019


SOC 7140 Advanced Quantitative Methodology (3 units)

Professor: Rippey, Phyllis
Winter 2020

This graduate seminar in quantitative methodology offers students the opportunity to build quantitative literacy and carry out original research. By the end of this course, students will be able to (1) carry out a secondary data analysis using nationally representative data, from concept formation through to the presentation of results; (2) read and evaluate quantitative research (without skipping over the methods section!); and (3) identify more advanced quantitative methods to recognize the limits of one’s quantitative knowledge and to determine methods of interest for potential future study.

Students will learn both the formulae for calculating statistics as well as practical hands-on skills in analyzing Statistics Canada (or other survey) data using statistical software such as SPSS or STATA. Students entering the course are not expected to already have advanced quantitative skills (that is what you will learn about IN the course) and anyone with an interest in learning more about how to incorporate nationally representative data into their research are encouraged to enroll. This course can also serve as a useful playground for developing a research question for a thesis.

SOC 7141 Advanced Qualitative Methodology (3 units)

Professor: Rodgers, Kathleen
Fall 2019


SOC 7171 Research Seminar in Political Sociology (3 units)

Professor: Betul Balkan Eksi
Fall 2019

Course description and objectives

Political sociology is the study of the social organization of power. This course covers the major themes and debates in political sociology—a diverse field both in terms of the range of topics addressed and the theoretical perspectives used.

The goal of the course is to provide students with theoretical tools to analyze important questions about power, politics and the state. Focusing on both classical and more contemporary texts in the field, we will address issues of democracy, nationalism, globalization, populism, terrorism, social movements, gender and the state, and the refugee regimes.

Students who take this course can expect to get out of it:

  • A more sophisticated understanding of the way in which power exists, is maintained, and is exercised in society.
  • Knowledge of the major questions scholars ask in the field of political sociology.
  • The ability to identify the operation of power in new and varied situations, even when that power is hidden.
  • The ability to identify how power relationships can be changed.

SOC 7176 Gender Differences in Political Sociology (3 units)

Professor: Masson, Dominique
Winter 2020

This seminar offers graduate students the opportunity of an in-depth exploration of the very diverse body of feminist scholarship that attempts to theorize and to analyse the relationships between gender and politics. Its main objective is to enable students to reflect sociologically on how gender, in its intersections with other axes of power relations, such as capitalism, colonialism, racism, heterosexism, ableism etc., shapes this domain of social life that we understand as “the political”. Substantive topics for the Winter 2020 term may include: citizenship, globalization and neoliberalism; gender, intersectionality and public policy; gender, sexuality and the nation; migration and the headscarf debate; feminist movements and transnational solidarity. The seminar will underscore the importance of intersectionality for studying gender in political sociology.

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