Current offerings (Academic timetable)

Course descriptions (Undergraduate calendar)


SUMMER 2023-Special Topics

SOSA 3181 - Special Topics:  Visual Culture
Summer 2023  - E. Galindo-Paredes, Online Asynchronous
The course explores key concepts and debates on visual representations and their impact on social relations. We will analyze the use of visual technologies to legitimize relations of domination --specifically to normalize racial, class and gender ideologies-- for example, in the construction of national projects or in the production of scientific knowledge. We will focus on power relations that circumscribe the production, circulation and consumption of images in different cultural and political spheres. In addition, the course will explore the growing experimentation with visual devices in the fields of popular, artistic, scholar, and social movements.

SOSA 3187 - Special Topics:  Death and Dying
Summer 2023 - B. Anderson, Online Asynchronous
Students will be introduced to various anthropological perspectives on death and dying. The course will cover topics which may include: symbolic meanings and values attached to death; cultural and historical variations in the management and conceptualization of death; the treatment of the 'terminally ill'; burial rites; the mourning process; and the social fate of survivors. Moreover, we will consider social and psychological meanings behind these behaviours. 

FALL 2023 & WINTER 2024-Special Topics

SOSA 3180 - Special Topics: Networks Unveiled: Understanding the Social Fabric through Social Network Analysis 
Fall 2023 -, Thursdays 8:35 to 11:25
The social world is intricately woven with networks, encompassing our connections with family members, friends, co-workers, and communities. Social network analysis is an interdisciplinary approach that fosters a lifelong skill set. Through the lens of social network analysis, we will unravel the hidden structures that underpin our social fabric. By focusing on the relationships between individuals, rather than just their individual attributes, we gain invaluable insights into the dynamics that shape our interconnected world. This course delves into the theory and practical applications of social network analysis, exploring its diverse utilization across various domains, including online and social media networks. Through this course, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of social network analysis, enabling them to identify influential actors within networks, examine community structures, and unravel the intricate interplay between networked data and the social world. Engaging with real-world case studies, students will witness firsthand how social network analysis illuminates the hidden connections that shape our societies. Moreover, the course features a hands-on component, providing practical experience in collecting and analyzing network data using existing social network analysis tools.

SOSA 3183 - Special Topics:  The Pursuit of Wellness and Well-Being
Winter 2024 -, Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:05 to 11:25
Many of us now think and talk about everyday activities, like exercising, socializing, and playing with our pets, as therapeutic. Many of us also increasingly search and reach for new tools, like mindfulness apps, yoga classes, self-help social media posts, to cope with life’s challenges. Both attest to a uniquely contemporary concern with wellness and wellbeing, to the fact that being emotionally, as well as physically, well, is deeply important to us, while it also eludes us. In this class, we explore the pursuit of wellness as a social and cultural phenomenon, as an outcome of the growth of psychology and allied professions and the rise of the “happiness industry.” In addition, we explore some of the larger social developments producing widespread emotional suffering and consider the implications of the fact that we often use personalized, therapeutic tools to deal with this suffering. This class will offer students new ways of thinking about the wellness and therapeutic cultures that surround us, as well as the kinds of social, material, and relational conditions that make us feel well, or not.

SOSA 4013 – Special Topics:  Rethinking kinship: Family in the 21st century
Winter 2024 –, Mondays  8:35 to 11:25
Everyone has family, however, how we conceptualize and live out relatedness differs cross-culturally. The history of anthropology is closely intertwined with kinship studies which were used to identify how family relations offered coherent and comparable systems for understanding broader social patterns and cultural differences. However, since the 1970’s anthropologists have been rethinking kinship. “Natural” categories such as family, community, parent, and child are now considered historically variable, socially produced and politically charged. Cross-cultural and feminist/critical studies of the family have also been used to de-center and critique Western notions of the nuclear family, and their associated biological and gender essentialisms. This seminar-style course will examine the complexities of families, communities, and social relations and why kinship studies matter more than ever. 

SOSA 4014 – Special Topics:  Comprehending Cults
Fall 2023 –, Mondays 11:35 to 2:25
This course will investigate New Religious Movements (NRMs) and alternative religions largely within the contemporary North American context.  This area of study is fraught with complexity, ambiguity, and controversy.  As such the course is designed to engage a variety of theoretical perspectives of and approaches to the phenomena of NRMs; address the popular understandings of these groups commonly known as “Cults” in an attempt to critically deconstruct inflammatory and biasing misconceptions; and to discuss the beliefs, practices, organization, and histories of a number of contemporary NRMs. We will seek to understand why “cults” emerge and how they proliferate, as we explore processes of recruitment, conversion, and charisma. We will also examine conflicts of these movements with established churches, anti-cult organizations, and the state.

SOSA 4018 – Special Topics:  Morality and Health 
Winter 2024 –, Fridays 11:35 to 2:25
This course takes as its starting point a quote from Michel Foucault: “...if you are not like everybody else, then you are abnormal; if you are abnormal, then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody else, not being normal and being sick, are in fact very different but have been reduced to the same thing.” Through a combination of short lectures, readings, student projects, and seminar discussion, we will explore questions about how health is connected to social judgments about morality and normalcy, with a focus on cases from Canada, the US and the UK. Why do some health issues and practices make us vulnerable to stigma or criticism, while others bring us sympathy and support, or even enhance our moral standing? How has the moralization of health problems and practices changed over time? How is it related to class, gender, race, and age? How have health care providers and researchers participated in the moralization of health? What is the role of norms in moralization? By the end of the course, you will have a better understanding of health as a site of social control.

SOSA 4019 – Special topics:  Love, Sex, and Intimacy
Fall 2023 –, Wednesdays 8:35 to 11:25
This course tells the story of a century of transformations to love, sex, and intimacy. Beginning from early anthropological work on the topics, the course then builds a critique of how emotional and sexual relationships have gradually shifted through various kinds of processes: colonialism, globalization, and digital media. This is about changing relations between love and sex, and how these shifts have shaped configurations of social relations like marriage, intimate bonds, partnerships and causal sexual relationships. This course tells the story of social structure and cohesions, while complicating it with a history of social transformation and changing social orders.

2023-24 4000 & 5000-level offerings:

SOSA 4001/5001 Quantitative Analysis for the Social Sciences I
Fall, Mondays 11:35-14:25
SOSA 5001 will introduce students to elementary quantitative data analysis techniques. We will cover some of the most common statistical techniques employed in quantitative research, including tabular and graphical presentation of data, descriptive statistics, bivariate association, the logic of statistical inference, and simple linear regression. Students will learn how to apply these statistical techniques using secondary datasets and Stata. Stata is an integrated data analysis software used for data manipulation, visualization, and statistical analysis. Students will also learn how to evaluate and write quantitative research papers.

SOSA 4002/5002 Quantitative Analysis for the Social Sciences II
Winter, Mondays 11:35-14:25
SOSA 5002 will cover intermediate statistical methods. We will briefly review the basic statistics discussed in SOSA 5001 and will focus on multiple linear regression, regression diagnostics, and methods that can be used when “normal” assumptions are violated. Attention will also be given to methods for analyzing binary and non-binary categorical variables using Stata. This course is intended to help students engage contemporary social issues with these methods, teach them how to select appropriate methods to answer their own research questions, and prepare them to learn even more specialized techniques.

SOSA 4003/5003 Contemporary Perspectives in Ethnography
Fall, Thursdays 8:35-11:25
Ethnography: Immersive Co-Learning, Multiplicity and Political Location
In this advanced seminar on contemporary ethnography, we consider how one should reflect on the question of how the enactment and outcome of ethnography can best be activated to proper effect, especially through responsible interaction with our research interlocutors. Much of that hinges on the degree to which the ethnographic effort is adequately responsive to the moral-political constellations and communities of practice it engages.

SOSA 4004/5004 Issues in Economy, Work & Development
Fall, Fridays 8:30-11:25
Topic:  Working and Not Working
It seems that across the political spectrum – from neoliberals to Marxists -- there is a consensus that work is good and good for you.  Is work, as Marx argues, part of what makes us human?  Is it essential to human dignity?  And what do we mean by work?  What is at stake in characterizing an activity as work?  What is good work?  Does the rise of AI mean the end of work for many? My research on social assistance has highlighted these questions, so in this seminar we will examine them together, considering perspectives from a range of theoretical perspectives.  An important consideration here is the relation between paid employment and other kinds of activity, including social reproduction (“the work of creating the workforce” as Frederici puts it).  We will consider these questions in both the global North and South.

SOSA 4005/5005 Issues in Social Justice and Inequality
Winter, Thursdays 14:35-17:25
Topic:  Power to the people?  Social Movements, the State, and Resistance
How do we understand the ways people challenge, resist, negotiate or acquiesce to unequal relations of power beyond involvement in formal politics? This advanced seminar explores theories about collective and everyday forms of resistance along with several ethnographic case studies from different places in the world and across the political spectrum. Case studies are likely to include Indigenous environmentalism, re-commoning projects, mutual aid movements, and right-wing populism. The goals of this seminar are to widen our thinking about the political beyond official processes and formal parties, enhance our comprehension of key concepts such as power, resistance, subjectivities, the state, and agency, and deepen our understanding of several social movements and cases of collective resistance.

SOSA 4006/5006 Issues in Critical Health Studies
Fall, Tuesdays 14:25-17:25
Topic:  Social inequality, health inequality: theorizing the links
How do social factors impact our health? Our class will focus on qualitative and quantitative approaches to this question. We will consider major theories in the social determinants of health, including the stress process model, eco-social theory, and fundamental cause theory. We will also consider how personal characteristics, such as race, class, and gender – and the intersections between these characteristics – can impact our health. Finally, we will examine tensions and overlap between social and biological explanations of health.