Harvard Courses

Spring 2020

Harvard Courses


*** Courses with consistent, Indigenous-focused content + HUNAP-affiliated instructor ***


Reading Course on Muskogee Culture

Ann Braude

Time: TBD


Initiated by a Muskogee student, this course will be advised by Prof. Ann Braude (Harvard Divinity) and Marcus Briggs-Cloud, HDS 2010. Any student interested in indigenous history and culture of the Southeastern US is welcome. Meeting time to be arranged. Permission of the Instructor required. For further information contact ann_braude@harvard.edu.


EMR 121 Native Americans in the 21st Century: Nation Building II
Eric Henson
Tuesdays, 2:10pm-4:00pm

This field-based research course focuses on some of the major issues that Native American Indian tribes and nations face as the 21st century begins. It provides in-depth, hands-on exposure to native development issues, including: sovereignty, economic development, constitutional reform, leadership, health and social welfare, land and water rights, culture and language, religious freedom, and education. In particular, the course emphasizes problem definition, client relationships, and designing and completing a research project. The course is devoted primarily to preparation and presentation of a comprehensive research paper based on a field investigation. In addition to interdisciplinary faculty presentations on topics such as field research methods and problem definition, students will make presentations on their work in progress and findings. Must contact instructor prior to enrolling by email, eric_henson@hks.harvard.edu. *This course is also offered as DEV 502 and EDU A102.

HIST 1015  Native American Women: History and Myth
Tiya Miles 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30pm-2:45pm

This course explores histories of women from diverse indigenous nations within the current boundaries of the United States. We will attend closely to methods and sources employed in historical inquiry about Native women even as we track change over time in a range of contexts. We will address multiple themes that intersect in Native women’s experience: tensions between history and myth, concepts of family and intimate relationships, spiritual understandings and notions of tradition, gender roles and cross-cultural gender difference, processes of colonialism, conceptions of land and effects of land dispossession, cultural negotiation and adaptation, public representation and misrepresentation, and personal, familial, and tribal perseverance.

ANTHRO 163 Megafauna Among Us: Humans and Other Charismatic Animals
Zoe Eddy
Thursdays, 3:00pm-5:45pm

Whales, wolves, great apes, big cats, buffalo, bears-- these animals populate human cultural imaginations. From animal advocacy groups to zoos to movies, so-called "charismatic megafauna" and/or “flagship species” dominate a wide swath of debates. By focusing on a selection of animals, this course explores a) how people interpret these animals, and b) how human interactions impact these animals and their natural environments. Organized around different animals and the controversies, questions, and events surrounding them, this course will emphasize how animals reflect human understandings of morality, culture, and history. Course themes focus heavily on environmental activism, public and environmental policy, Indigeneity, and animals in tourism markets. While this class centers on North American case studies, international examples will help create a cross-comparative global context. In addition to exploring the cultural context of large animals, students will also learn how to approach these issues as anthropologists. Every class will feature a module wherein students tackle problems with different theory and methodology from anthropological research. This course relies on interspecies approaches to anthropological research on animals: critical use of interdisciplinary materials will generate multiple perspectives on the animals we study. Finally, Indigenous methodology and ontology about animals and the environment will serve as a foundation for discussion.

ANTHRO 1082 Moundbuilders, Birdmen, and Earth Monsters: The Archaeology of Eastern North America
Robert Cook
Wednesdays, 9:00am-11:45am

This course introduces the archaeological study of the ancient societies of eastern North America, with a focus on the Ohio River Valley region, the first frontier of the United States. We will explore inter-related aspects of religion, economy, technology, and human biology associated with the span of time ranging from the first arrival of humans to the European invasion of the continent. The emphasis is on key forms and changes in social organization associated with shifts between foraging and farming, the development of widely shared ideologies, and senses of place as expressed through persistent monumentality. We conclude the semester with a consideration of the various ways in which indigenous peoples of the Eastern U.S. shaped and were shaped by European colonizers and settlers. Final student research projects will inform the creation of a small exhibit in the Peabody Museum.

*** Courses with significant sections devoted to Indigenous issues, topics, and voices ***

UPDATE: EMR 133/WGS 1204 Power, Knowledge, Identity: Critical Approaches to Race and Ethnicity: Power, Knowledge, Identity
Eleanor Craig
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am-11:45am

How might critical attention to race and ethnicity as they intersect with gender and sexuality—and also frameworks of indigeneity and class—shape how we study? How do these lenses shift the questions we ask, the information that counts as data, and the genres of work that we recognize as 'academic'?For those newer to studies of race and ethnicity, this course provides intersectional frameworks for recognizing what assumptions undergird academic projects and fields of study. For those familiar with ethnic studies, it aims to serve as a ‘Theories and Methods’ course, providing tools and strategies for refining one's own interdisciplinary inquiries. Indigenous content featured in weeks 2, 4, 6, 7,  and 9, "as well as lots of readings that talk about colonialism, settler colonialism, and imperialism."

HIST 1054: From the Little Ice Age to Climate Change: Introduction to US Environmental History
Zachary Nowak
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00am-10:15am

What’s the problem with wilderness? Or the environmental movement? Or invasive species?  This course examines how humans thought about and used the natural world over the centuries—and the consequences of both use of and thoughts about the nature. Students will learn about food, climate change, pollution, conquest and resistance, environmentalism, and energy. This course actively seeks to show the importance of the material world and the contributions of a broad spectrum of historical actors to US history, among them Native Americans, enslaved people, women, working people, and outlaws, as well as the climate, microbes, and animals.

HISTSCI 123CS Starstruck! The History, Culture, and Politics of American Astronomy
Sara Schechner
Tuesdays, 3:00pm-5:45pm

This hands-on course will introduce key episodes and issues in the history of American astronomy by close looking at rare early scientific instruments and tangible objects in Harvard collections.  Starting with the story of Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and a sundial, the course will move from colonial relations with Native Americans to the controversial placement of observatories on sacred mountaintops today.  In between, we will discuss the roles of religion, politics, science, and culture in the promotion of astronomy in American society.  Topics will include comets and extraterrestrials, observatories, westward expansion, time selling, and the role of women.  Each unit will begin with anchoring objects, and students will work behind the scenes in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.  There will also be opportunities to make and use your own instruments to engage with early methods of production and observation.

*** Courses with brief inclusion of Indigenous topics ***

GENED 1135 Interracial Encounters in American Literature and Culture
Ju Yon Kim
Tuesday and Thursdays, 1:30 PM - 02:45 PM

From depictions of exchanges in the early colonial Americas to efforts to envision alternate and imminent futures, this class will examine representations of interracial encounters in U.S. American culture. We will explore how various texts and performances have conceived, embodied, and reimagined the relationships not only among differently racialized groups, but also between race and nation, individual and community, and art and politics. Topics addressed in this course will include narratives of indigeneity, contact, and migration; cross-racial performances and the question of cultural appropriation; political and artistic collaborations; and interracial encounters in a transnational context. Course requirements will include two exams, two papers, and individual and group creative projects.

GENED 1159 American Capitalism
Sven Beckert
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:00pm-1:15pm

How did capitalism emerge, expand and transform daily life in North America over the past 500 years? In this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of how North America turned from a minor outpost of the Atlantic economy into the powerhouse of the world economy, how Americans built a capitalist economy and how that capitalism, in turn, changed every aspect of their lives.  In the process, they will come to understand how contemporary capitalism is the result of centuries of human engagement, struggle, and aspirations. Topics range from the structure of Native-American economies to the economic consequences of the Civil War; from the impact of capitalism on gender relations to the changing structures of American businesses; and from the position of the United States in the world economy to the role of the government in channeling economic development. Boston merchants and Georgia sharecroppers, enslaved cotton growers and reforming statesmen, workers at the Ford assembly line and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs will all appear in the story. The course will put particular emphasis on the global context of American economic development and situate it deeply in political and social changes. Ultimately, students will gain an understanding of how the contemporary capitalism that so powerfully shapes all of our lives has emerged over the course of several centuries, and how the tools to understand the history of American capitalism can be applied to understanding our contemporary situation. Assignments in particular will encourage students to think about contemporary problems from historical perspectives.

HIST-LIT 90EA Water Justice and Resistance in the Americas
James Mestaz
Tuesday 03:00 PM - 05:00 PM

Water is life, but is it a human right? Water governance is a contentious issue globally because humans rely on water for nearly every productive activity; moreover, it is often scarce and not distributed equally. To better understand the persistence and escalation of struggles over water access around the world, this course uses a multidisciplinary approach that allows students to examine both the social and physical shape of water in a modern and historical context. While all bodies of water deserve mention, civilizations have most often centered on rivers acting as veins pumping their life blood. This class discusses water issues in a global context, but pays particular attention to populations from South America through Canada. This course often takes an ethno-gendered approach by specifically examining women’s and indigenous peoples’ hydraulic social mobilization practices through the lens of their physical and cultural connection to water sources. Students will have the opportunity to interrogate the complexity of water policies, and learn how marginalized groups executed water justice strategies to defend their identity, material wealth, and health.

WOMGEN 1455 Women, Men, and Other Animals
Mel Chen
Tuesdays, 3:00 PM-5:00 PM

This course explores ways in which human collectives have conceived of other animals, whether in analogical relations for scientific research, exploitative relations for food and labor, affective relations like fear, disgust, love. What are some histories of these unique interdependencies between human animals and nonhuman animals? We will critically explore the relentless and yet slippery divisions between humans and nonhuman animals, seeing them as a falsely singular, conflictual and segregatory divide that has played historical roles in intrahuman violence as well as in the rhetoric, images and institutions of settlement, colonialism and capitalism. We will see ways in which the difference schemes of seeming givens of gender, sexuality, race, nationhood, and ability carry these legacies and obscure other ones that honor and redeem the lives of nonhuman animals. Informing many human/animal divides are binary relations of mind/body, man/woman, light/dark, modernity/tradition, West/rest, civilized/barbarian. Yet it is also evident that animals do not only carry these legacies and burdens; "they" are not simple metaphors nor are they wearers of mere signs for human meaning. They act in a world that is also theirs, and refuse the orders of being imposed on them. Our primary and secondary readings are drawn from queer and trans studies, philosophy, feminist science studies, indigenous studies, fiction, film, activist movements, and more. This is a heavily discussion-based course; we will together learn to be “animal critics” of many phenomena, including the readings themselves, all of which need interpretive augmentation and critique in a given place and time.

EDU S515 Emancipatory Inquiry: Listening, Learning, and Acting for Social Change
Aaliyah El-Amin
Wednesdays, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Throughout history, social justice movements and social justice organizations have utilized disciplined inquiry or research to highlight untold stories, illuminate goodness, expose power and colonialism, and offer pathways to more equity and freedom. Yet, we often do not provide educators or doctoral students with research methodology training oriented to these aims. More specifically, we often do not provide educators in the field or doctoral students with research methodology training beyond those traditionally accepted in the Western Canon. Grounded in critical theory, feminist theory, queer theory, and deccolonial frameworks, this course aims to introduce all educators (teaching artists, teachers, school leaders, counselors, and educators working in non-profit organizations) and doctoral students to a strand of investigative approaches that fall under the broad umbrella of emancipatory research paradigms. These collective ways of exploring questions and gathering knowledge seek to explicitly address power, inequalities, and injustice while prioritizing the human interactions that exist in research-based inquiry. Emancipatory research approaches ask: How do we engage in research with marginalized populations in ways that honor their voice and their agency? How are we attentive to who and what is included/excluded in research? How do we expand what is considered knowledge and who generates it? Finally, emancipatory research approaches seek to ensure that any information gathered is used to push forward a more just society. Through a practice-based and exploratory model, this course will cover the following methodologies: arts-based inquiry, narrative inquiry/storytelling, indigenous methods of inquiry, community-based inquiry, and embodied inquiry or inquiry through movement. Ultimately, this survey course seeks to make clear the theoretical foundations and practical steps of emancipatory approaches to knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. As a final project, students will either complete an original inquiry project investigating a justice-oriented question of their choice using the philosophies or methods of the course or write a proposal for an inquiry project they hope to complete in the future. 

EDU T017: Alternative Modes of Education
Houman Harouni
Thursday 5:00pm-8:00pm

The purpose of this course is to question prevailing, relatively uniform and quite limiting forms of education in light of approaches that escape or overcome these forms. A mode of education is more than mere content and pedagogy. It refers to ways of knowing, forms of life, conceptions of power, value systems, and structuring goals that ultimately underlie a people’s understanding of what education is and does. Therefore, this course concerns more than a simple familiarity with alternative models of learning—rather, the participants will engage in an exploration of their current attitudes toward education and work to create alternate visions that challenge existing assumptions. In this process we will draw on a wide variety of sources, including, but not limited to, Native American ways of knowing, the African and African American traditions, Indian and Chinese philosophies, the Sufi tradition in Islam and, last but not least, those radical and critical visions of education that have come to existence in various corners of the modern world. The question of what is or is not European, radical or utopian is central to this work. Course pedagogy reflects the questions and approaches that we engage: it places the participants within, rather than beside, the modes we are to study, and it provides an experiential context for rigorous critique of these modes. The ultimate aim of the course is to enable participants to create alternative approaches to those aspects of education that most concern them. Permission of instructor required. Students from all departments and academic backgrounds, including doctoral students, are welcome. Enrollment procedure will be posted on the course website.



Fall 2019

Fall Courses 2019



ANTH1900: Counseling as Colonization? Native American Encounters with the Clinical Psy-ences
Joseph Gone
Fall 2019, Mondays, 12:00pm-2:45pm 

American Indian, First Nations, and other Indigenous communities of the USA and Canada contend with disproportionately high rates of “psychiatric” distress. Many of these communities attribute this distress to their long colonial encounters with European settlers. Concurrently, throughout the 20th century, the disciplines and professions associated with mind, brain, and behavior (e.g., psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis) consolidated their authority and influence within mainstream society. These “psy-ences” promote their professional practices (e.g., diagnosis, psychotherapy) as plausible remedies for Indigenous social suffering, but many Indigenous communities remain skeptical of—and resistant to—these clinical approaches, primarily for cultural and political reasons. In this seminar, we will consider whether and how the concepts, categories, tools, and techniques of the mental health professions might be appropriately adapted and/or adopted for use with Indigenous communities in an increasingly globalized world. In recognition of the (post)colonial status of these populations, we will attend closely to alterNative cultural and spiritual approaches that have been identified and promoted by Indigenous people themselves as conducive to healing and wellness.

HL90DX: Environmental Justice in North America
Arianne Sedef Urus
Fall 2019, Wednesdays, 9:45 – 11:45am

This course examines how the right to natural resources became contested in North America following European conquest and westward expansion, with a particular emphasis on the period before 1865. Sometimes these contested resources have been clean air, soil, and water, while at other times they included fisheries, forests, agricultural fields, animal pastures, or oil. From when pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620, race, class, and gender have been the determining factors in regulating resource access rights. We will explore the social, political, and economic processes by which some people have been denied the basic right to resources by studying the histories of European colonization, indigenous dispossession, the enslavement of Africans, “Manifest Destiny,” and the rise of capitalism. We will look at the diversity of indigenous resource management regimes at work across the continent, and consider how these methods changed in response to encounters with colonialism and capitalism. We will interrogate what happens when natural resources become capitalist commodities, and how the history of European colonialism heralded the transformation of North American nature—a process which produced such contradictions as the beauty of Yellowstone National Park and the carnage of the Cuyahoga River which famously caught on fire in downtown Cleveland in 1969. Throughout the semester alongside these transformations we will study the ways people organized in response to them. The course culminates with the 2016-17 protests at Standing Rock to ask how the past informs the future of resource conflict between the government and business on one side and indigenous and other underrepresented populations on the other in the twenty-first century.


ANTHRO1190: The Invasion of America: The Anthropology of American Encounters, 1492-1830
Matt Liebmann
Fall 2019, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:00-1:15pm

In 1492 Native Americans discovered Europeans, changing the world forever. The European invasion of the Americas triggered demographic, economic, and ecological changes on an unprecedented scale. The subsequent movement of plants, animals, and goods prompted global shifts in population, exploitation of resources, and the transformation of environments on both sides of the Atlantic. What can archaeology tell us about early encounters between Native Americans and Europeans? Why did the European conquest of the Americas play out as it did? This course investigates these questions through the sites where first contacts occurred, the objects exchanged by Native peoples and colonists, and the scars that remain in the ground. Through investigations of first contacts, Indigenous politics, disease epidemics, Native rebellions, and ecological changes, Anthropology 1190 presents a sweeping continent-wide treatment of the historical archaeology of Native Americans between 1492-1800.


HIST14M: “Black Indians”: The Making of an Identity
Tiya Miles
Fall 2019, Wednesday, 12-2pm

This seminar will explore intersections in African American and Native American histories with an emphasis on pivotal moments in the shaping of a modern identity referred to as “Black Indian.” Students in this seminar will explore and analyze historical contexts and contingencies leading to thick interactions between people of African descent and indigenous Americans as well as experiential testimony by individuals asserting mixed race and/or bi-cultural Afro-Native identities. During our time together, students will discover not only the impact that black and native peoples have had on one another, but also the impact they (and ideas about them) have had on the development and sustainment of an American national identity.


RELIGION1519: Issues in the Studies of Native American Religion
Anne Braude
Fall 2019, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-11:45am

Based around a series of traditionalist guest speakers, this course interrogates the study of religion in general and of Native American traditions in particular in light of indigenous religious experiences, perspectives and histories. Questions of appropriation, repatriation and religious freedom will be approached through legal as well as cultural frameworks.


FRSEMR631: The First Americans: Portraits of Indigenous Power and Diplomacy
Shawon Kinew
Fall 2019, Friday, 12-2:45pm

Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is home to 25 oil portraits of indigenous American leaders painted in the first half of the 19th century. Originally commissioned to preserve cultures an American bureaucrat feared would be extinct, these paintings transcend a moribund history. In fact, the Native American nations represented are still here. Moreover, these portraits have much to teach us about diplomacy, power, representation and indigeneity in 2019. The Peabody portraits, painted by the American artist Henry Inman, represent some of the most fascinating political leaders of the American nineteenth century—chiefs, spiritual leaders and diplomats, who all traveled to Washington, D.C. to negotiate with the U.S. government on behalf of their tribal nations. Through the close examination of these artworks in person at the Peabody, this seminar will focus on the stories, histories and teachings communicated by these portraits and their sitters.


HIST-LIT90DJ: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock: Native America in the Twentieth Century
Christopher Clements
Fall 2019, Mondays, 9:45-11:45am

This course will explore various forms of Native American cultural and political production in the twentieth century. Drawing on fiction, film, historical documents, documentaries, photographs, nonfiction, and memoirs, this class will explore the ways in which Indigenous people have articulated both belonging and separateness from the United States. In addition to its focus on key aspects of modern indigenous culture and politics—sovereignty, self-determination, decolonization, anti-racism, gender equality, and land claims, to name a few—we will also consider broader conceptual questions. What, for example, is the relationship between indigeneity and modernity? Does the twentieth century mark a distinct break from the first four hundred years of Native-settler history? How does settler colonialism intersect with other forms of oppression? And, why have events like Wounded Knee II and Standing Rock gained support from wider, non-indigenous publics while issues like police brutality against Native people and the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) have not?


DPI391: Race, Inequality, and American Democracy
Megan Francis
Fall 2019, Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:15-2:30pm

The United States’ global dominance has long been the envy of the world. But the role of race to native born and newcomer alike has been treated often as aberrational, an unfortunate artifact of the nation’s past. This course examines the nature of race at the heart of the American project through the lens of wealth creation, labor markets, political culture, social institutions, immigration and civic life. Although race often attaches to people of color, racial identity and ideology have been inescapable constructs for all who reside in this country. Drawing on critical race theory, whiteness studies and African American history, students will gain historical knowledge required for leadership in a 21st century, multi-racial democracy. Students who plan to work in non-profits, government agencies and policy circles will also gain new analytical tools to help lead and transform institutions for a browner America and world.


ENGLISH282A: Ethnic Studies: Past, Present Future
Ju Yon Kim
Fall 2019, Tuesdays, 9:45-11:45am

An interdisciplinary graduate research seminar exploring cutting-edge approaches in ethnic studies. From its institutional beginnings in the late-1960s, the field of ethnic studies built frameworks to critically examine questions of inequality and power through intersecting analytical paradigms of race, indigeneity, gender, sexuality, class, and citizenship. With visiting scholars at Harvard’s Warren Center, students will explore how such frameworks remain useful and relevant, interrogate limitations and contradictions within the field, all the while exploring new possibilities and directions within ethnic studies.


AFVS197K: Cinemas of Resistance: Political Filmmaking Across the Globe
Katherine Rennebohm
Fall 2019, Wednesday, 3-5:45pm

Can film change the world? What can the history of engaged film and media-making teach us about politics, and vice-versa? This course will study instances of political filmmaking from around the world: early 20th century avant-garde filmmaking, anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist cinemas, feminist and queer filmmaking, Indigenous cinemas, and more. Students will learn about different political movements, international histories of film theory and film form, and the ongoing legacies of cinemas of resistance.