2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Movements and Migrations: Sustainable Communities in a Transnational World


Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Karen Gaul anthropology , Therese Saliba international feminism, Middle East studies, English
Fields of Study
anthropology, community studies, consciousness studies, cultural studies, environmental studies, gender and women's studies, international studies and sustainability studies
Preparatory for studies or careers in
sustainability studies, anthropology, and international studies.

From Yoga to Facebook, transnational cultural and economic practices and new information technologies are creating an increasingly interconnected world. A central question for this program is, how do highly mobile transnational relationships such as these affect the integrity, identity, and sustainability of local communities?

We will examine how particular resources (such as oil, textiles, and food) as well as technologies, labor, and ideas, have propelled migrations, cultural transformations, and movements for sustainability and justice. Tourism, for example, generates the production and consumption of cultural heritage, eco-tourism, and yoga vacations that draw millions of people to new destinations around the world, and are major economic forces, raising urgent questions about cultural sustainability in the face of globalization. At the same time, Facebook has played an instrumental role for Arab youth in organizing revolutions, highlighting the ways people may use foreign technologies to fuel movements for political and social justice.

Migrations of peoples, materials, and ideas have been around for millenia, often producing vibrant cultural practices based on adaptation and innovation. Yet colonization, empire, and capitalist globalization have also contributed to the systematic destruction of indigenous and non-Western cultures, inciting various forms of resistance. Focusing on South Asia and the Middle East, we will explore the ways communities and cultures are disproportionately affected by conditions and by-products of resource extraction, unjust labor conditions, pollutants, waste disposal and broader climate change. We will consider lessons that can be learned from their movements to create sustainable and just futures in a transnational world.

Through the lenses of cultural studies, cultural anthropology and sustainability studies, we will explore the tensions between movement and rootedness, the familiar and unfamiliar, and how movements for justice are conditioned by both individual and systemic change. We will draw on yoga, both as an example of cultural exchange that has fueled debates about authenticity and appropriation, and as a practice of sustainability from the inside out. Through the writings of Gandhi, Alice Walker, and Arundhati Roy, and a range of cultural, feminist, and postcolonial theories, we will explore the connections between individual and social transformation, as we seek to build communities rooted in the concepts of sustainability and justice.

In fall quarter we will develop an intentional learning community, and explore program themes through lectures, films, shared readings, field trips, and workshops. We will build skills in cultural analysis through critical reading, creative writing, ethnographic methods, visual literacy, and seminar discussions. In winter quarter, students will begin to frame projects focusing on program themes in particular cultural areas, which they will develop and research.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$150 per quarter for field trips and supplies.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
May 3rd, 2012 This program is now Fall/Winter only; fees have been updated.
April 4th, 2012 New offering added.