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 Contemporary Theory in Anthropology (3 units)

Professor: Stalcup, Meg

Fall 2020

Course Description

In-depth examination of the main theoretical currents in social and cultural anthropology.  Focus on the development and the points of convergence and divergence of these currents, through examples and topical issues.

Course Objectives

This course takes up concept work as a central component of anthropological inquiry. We examine how to identify useful conceptual tools to prepare for fieldwork and, later, for analysis. We also study how scholars develop concepts through a back-and-forth movement between empirical research situations and the problems they care about. Broadly, we will look at categories of ethics, epistemology, power, and aesthetics. Our exploration will proceed by locating and examining selected formations of thought and practice in contemporary anthropology, and some of the influential concepts they have produced. 

ANT 6104 Indigeneties (3 units)

Professor Simon, Scott

Fall 2020

Official Course Description

In-depth examination of global indigenous resurgence, including the revitalization of legal orders, governance systems, spiritualities and language. Anthropological studies of such subjects as colonialism, post-colonialism, decolonization and coexistence; resistance and resilience; healing, reconciliation and reparation; multiculturalism and cultural appropriation; ecologies.

General Objectives of the Course

This course will be a comprehensive overview of indigeneities, from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to local initiatives. The focus will be on anthropology’s engagement with global and national indigenous rights movements and other forms of resurgence. The course is a seminar, with pedagogy based on critical reviews of ethnographies. Students will be expected to read one ethnographic monograph each week as the basis for groups discussions on contemporary indigenous resurgence and how anthropology can effectively engage with indigeneities. Cases will be selected from Canada, as well as from other parts of the world for comparison. Students will also be exposed to the art of writing journal articles.

About the Professor

Scott Simon has conducted research with the Truku and Seediq Indigenous peoples of Taiwan since 2004. In his first research project (2004-2008), he focused on issues of development and state-indigenous relations. This culminated in the book Sadyaq Balae: L’autochtonie formosane dans tous ses états (Québec: Presses de l’université Laval, 2012).  In 2012-13, he did research on Truku ethno-ornithology, as part of a larger interest in ecological issues. From 2017-2022, he is principle investigator on a SSHRC-funded research team called Austronesian Worlds: Human-Animal Relations in the Pacific Anthropocene. This research has taken him, as well as other professors and graduate students, to do field research in the Philippines, Taiwan, Orchid Island, and Guam. He is now writing an ethnography in English about Seediq lifeworlds.

ANT 6112 Medical Anthropology (3 units)

Professor Gandsman, Ari

Fall 2020

Anthropology of a pandemic. To inaugurate the first time that this course will be taught and in cognizance of its infelicitous timing with our current moment, this course will be inevitably focused on COVID-19 and what insights from medical anthropology can contribute to the understanding of this global pandemic.

ANT 6122 Environmental Anthropology (3 units)

Professor Kurtovic, Larissa

Winter 2021

This graduate seminar focuses on ongoing conversations in the field of environmental anthropology, including but not limited to those concerning the nature-culture divide, multispecies ethnography, climate change, extraction and toxicity, and infrastructural politics. The course will combine ethnographic and theoretical readings, with a particular focus on understanding the conceptual language of the ontological turn, science and technology studies, new materialist thinking and decolonial critique.


ANT 6150 Methodology and Research Proposal in Anthropology (3 units)

Professor Laplante, Julie 

Winter 2021

Meant as a workshop to run through the different steps leading to the project proposal defense, we will discuss form, content, ethical issues and diverse strategies and approaches that are most relevant to the projected field.  We will work with a collective volume (Search After Method.  Sensing, Moving, and Imagining in Anthropological Fieldwork, 2020) written by anthropologists, from both in and beyond academia, who share moments of fieldwork and how they learned to weave theory with practices, as well leave enough space to also correspond with what the world is expressing in continuously new ways.  We will thus address the three folds of knowing processes which take part in a research proposal; namely developing sensitivities and strategies to pay attention to things (sensing), how to engage in these processes to transform understandings (move and being moved), and how to imagine the written practice from the onset, all as both methods and ways to shape and eventually address a research problem.  

SOC 6101 Research Design in Sociology (3 units)

Professor Lopez, Jose

Winter 2021

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 Winter, Elke

Fall 2020


Explores relationship between citizenship and rights, focusing on structural and discursive conditions of citizenship and struggles for recognition and equality.


This graduate seminar focusses on the structural and discursive conditions of membership in the nation. It examines how immigration and citizenship policies emphasize specific dimensions of national identity, and how they operate as means of nation-building under the conditions of neoliberalism and globalization. The seminar introduces students to key sociological issues, concepts, and theories on both nationalism and citizenship, two bodies of literature that cross-fertilize but do not fully overlap. Drawing primarily on empirical cases and recent debates from Europe and North America, the course also highlights how (im)migration and different forms of citizenship acquisition (e.g. birthright, naturalization) interact with some of the “new nationalisms” (e.g. Brexit, the rise of Trump, new nationalist/identity movements in Europe). Overall, the seminar has two principal goals: First, it offers an overview of the interdisciplinary debates that have shaped the field(s) in recent years. Second, it invites students to ask new questions and provides them with the sociological tools to address them.

Teaching methods

This seminar relies heavily on student participation. We will spend most of our time collectively reviewing, comparing, and critiquing the assigned readings. To bring us all on the same page, in the first three sessions, we cover some key concepts and classic texts that are required to understand the more recent academic contributions and debates. Sessions 4 and 5 provide a brief history of the field and introduce the comparative dimension. The remaining sessions deal with current empirical issues and cover specific angles of the nationalism and citizenship debate in Europe and North America. The last two sessions are reserved for student presentations and/or another research symposium (tbc).

SOC 7102 Migration and Mobility  (3 units)

Professor Bourgeault, Ivy

Fall 2020

Official Course Description

Explores different forms of international and internal migration and mobility, as well as the multiple factors that favour, channel, or circumvent the movement of populations.

General Objectives of the Course

The objectives of this seminar are to understand the core contemporary theories of mobility, migration and transnationalism and their application to longstanding and emerging issues in the field. Key mobility and migration issues to be discussed include the rise of mobility and changing nature of citizenship in a globalized environment, policy and political aspects of immigrant in and outflows, the role of national and international migration organizations, the interplay between migration and national and international labour markets, and a comparison of diasporic experiences.

About the Professor

Ivy Lynn Bourgeault has conducted research on the migration and integration of health workers at both a macro and micro level. At the macro level, she has compared the policy environment in key source (India, the Philippines, South Africa, Jamaica) and destination countries (Canada, US, UK & Australia). At the micro level, she has compared the experiences of doctors, nurses and midwives integrating in the different provincial health systems and sectors. Across all studies, an explicit gender lens has been applied.

SOC 7108 Sociology of Health (3 units)

Professor: Knaapen, Loes

Winter 2021

This course is a graduate level seminar focused on Sociology of Health and Medicine. Its main objective will be to examine how medicine and illness are shaped by society, such as social norms, the pharmaceutical industry and patient activism. We will examine mostly the medical profession (diagnosis, treatment, research), but also include discussion of the social meaning of illness and its experience.

The course’s readings will include literature from Sociology to explore several central themes within Medical Sociology, such as the social construction of illness; medicalization; and the power dynamics between medical profession, government, industry and patients. Drawing on the field of Science & Technology Studies (STS), we will pay particular attention to the question ‘what counts as medical knowledge’, as well as the way patients have used their expertise to transform medicine.

Students may take their own research interests as a starting point to conduct an in-depth literature review of a topic related to the class. This can be an analysis of a theoretical concept (‘expert patient’, ‘pharmaceuticalization’) or a sociological analysis of a specific issue (rise of ADHD, COVID-19 pandemic, ethics of medical tourism). Students will present their findings in class and as a final paper.

SOC 7110 Contemporary Sociological Theories (3 units)

Professor: Denis, Claude

Winter 2021

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 : Sociology of Race and Racism (3 units)

Professor: Gueye, Abdoulaye

Winter 2021

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

Winter 2021

The study of social change is at the very core of sociology. Perhaps all sociology is about social change. Change is such an evident feature of social reality that any social-scientific theory, whatever its conceptual starting point, must sooner or later address it.  (Haferkamp and Smelser, 1992, 1)

The objective of this course is to engage critically with this idea, as well as concepts related to the analysis, interpretation and understanding of social change. We will explore ideas such as ‘progress’, ‘tradition’, ‘modernity’, ‘evolutionism’, ‘history’, and in particular critically examine some of the taken-for-granted assumptions that we make in the relationship between change and time.

In this course we look at some of the classic texts: Hegel, Spencer, Weber, Marx; some of the more contemporary key pieces by Touraine, Elias, Archer; and think about concepts such as evolutionism (Darwin) from different perspectives, including Ingold and Pierotti (Indigenous epistemologies).

There is a lot of flexibility in where students can take this material and how they connect it to their own projects. I encourage creativity in particular with this aspect of the seminar discussions.

SOC 7140 Advanced Quantitative Methodology (3 units)

Professor: Rippey, Phyllis

Winter 2021

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 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 quantitative thesis.

SOC 7141 Advanced Qualitative Methodology (3 units)

Professor: a venir

Fall 2020

This course explores some of the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative social research (phenomenology, critical ethnography, decolonizing methodologies, and feminism social research) along with selected qualitative research methods (in-depth interviews, focus-group interviews, observations, and content analysis). We will also examine the process of qualitative inquiry: research design and planning, literature review, data collection, coding techniques, data analysis procedures, communicating results of research, and research ethics. In addition, we will discuss the interplay between qualitative research, social justice and social change. 

SOC 7156 Gender Relations and Interethnic Relations (3 units)

Professor: Eksi, Betul

Fall 2020

Examination of modes of differentiation according to gender, ethnicity, and race in contemporary societies and of the theoretical linkages among them.

SOC 7171 Research Seminar in Political Sociology (3 units)

Professor: Sawan, Joseph

Fall 2020

The field of political sociology has a long and diverse history that is concerned with the social organization of power. This seminar explores classic and contemporary theoretical tools that will support an exploration of how power is expressed in contemporary social relations.

With an emphasis on the role of social movements and learning in producing imaginations of the possible, this seminar will provide a space for students to explore how theoretical approaches drawn from the field can facilitate a better understanding of power relations in society.

The research seminar will begin with an overview of key literatures in the field (classic and contemporary approaches) followed by an examination of issues related to social movements, political participation, politics of difference, nationalism, institutions and everyday life.

SOC 7176 Gender Difference in Political Sociology (3 units)

Professor Rippey, Phyllis

Fall 2020

Official Course Description:

Examination of the notion of gender difference, in relation, for example, to citizenship, the private/public divide, political representation, women's rights, kinship, and power.

Dr. Rippey’s Course Description:

According to political philosopher Hannah Arendt, ancient Greeks like Socrates and Plato identified “the human capacity for political organization” as what distinguishes people from animals. Though animals may be social, can use tools, and communicate with each other, political action and speech are “the exclusive prerogative of man; neither a beast nor a god is capable of it” (Arendt 1958). These thinkers also saw political life as available only to men, marking clear distinctions between private and public life.  Aristotle, in particular, suggested that because women, like animals, are responsible for the reproductive labour needed to sustain the human species, most notably through breastfeeding, women cannot and should not play a role in political life. Though these thinkers have long since left this earth, their ideas are interwoven into the fabric of how our social and political institutions are organized today. The purpose of this course is to find out how this is true.

In this course, we will explore the meaning and realities of gendered differences in political, social, and economic life. We will likely ask more questions than we will find satisfying answers, but we will begin by asking what does gender even mean? How and why does gender matter at individual, social, and political levels? Does gender matter in different ways for different people? In different places and different times?  Who gets to decide what gender means and is there any room for change? The course will involve will involve a lot of reading, thinking, writing and discussing.  Students will be required to take the material (but not themselves, too) seriously. 

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