As a teacher, my primary aim in engaging students with anthropology is to transmit the relevance of the discipline beyond the classroom. By connecting theory to concrete examples, I teach students to learn how to think carefully about the world around them. Students merge everyday experiences with critical thinking, and are provided with the tools and knowledge they need to positively contribute to a diverse society.
I have taught my own courses at the University of California, Berkeley and The New School, including Migration and the Environment (undergraduate, spring 2019), Durable Solutions in Jordan: A Fieldwork Practicum (graduate, spring 2019), Boundaries and Belonging (graduate, fall 2018), Migration, Politics and Power (undergraduate, spring 2018), Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (undergraduate, summer 2018), and Manufacturing Landscapes (graduate, spring 2018). I have been a teaching assistant for courses on art and social movements and given frequent guest lectures and seminars. I also teach online as a lecturer in anthropology at Georgian Court University.
Selected courses are highlighted below, as are photos from student fieldwork projects by permission.
migration and the environment
Gradual environmental change and extreme environmental events have a tremendous impact on human mobility. These forms of environmental degradation put at risk the inhabitants of coastal regions, low lying islands, and areas susceptible to drought, and can result in mass displacement. This course considers and evaluates these challenges through an interdisciplinary perspective that merges environmental and development anthropology, international development and policy. We deal in depth with patterns of social inequality and migration affected by environmental challenges, exposing the uneven distribution of climate change impacts, which can induce growth deficits and unsustainability traps. Drawing on decolonial theory and critical Indigenous studies, we think through the continued presence of colonial logics, but also consider emergent futures that place local knowledge at the center of our understanding. Students will also have the opportunity for involvement with local environmental groups, studying how ecosystems are changing in Manhattan’s boroughs. The overall aim of this course is to gain familiarity with debates that link the environment and development, advancing engaged practice inspired by the communities with which we work.
durable solutions in jordan: a fieldwork practicum
Extreme numbers of people continue to be forced to move from their home regions; the majority hosted by states neighboring conflict areas. In these contexts, refugees are often unable to access work rights, reliant on camps and welfare programs. Globally, discourses remain centered on refugees as a social and economic drain or a security threat. This course brought together faculty from The New School and humanitarian partners at the International Rescue Committee to improve areas of thinking related to humanitarianism, design, technology and resettlement. Students critically examined humanitarianism from both a theoretical and hands-on perspective, leading up to a field placement in Amman during the Spring Break. In Amman, students conducted in-depth research related to their skill-sets, supporting innovations in interventions to aid refugees and displaced people. Students also had the opportunity to apply for a long-term summer internship with the IRC’s Amman office, which provides key training for future work in NGO, policy or academic disciplines.
introduction to social and cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology at its core explores diverse modes of being human across time and space. The primary goal of the discipline is to understand social differences and their relationship to political economic and other social realms. Some of the most important issues facing human societies today result from differences in ideology, economic and political power, gender, identity and globalization. Unpacking institutionalized forms of knowledge reveals how social structures and everyday life interact to produce invisible forms of power and control. How is identity and difference expressed in different places at different times? Where do commonsense practices and human categorizations come from? In particular, those associated with race and ethnicity. How do people make meaning out of their worlds in a landscape of mobile and circulatory flows?
This course grapples with these questions by investigating universalism and variation across societies, including the dynamics of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. As an American Cultures course, this course centers on the experiences of people of different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds in the United States. It sheds light on some of the pressing questions of our time, such as the effects of the global circulation of capital and people, and the possibilities of collective mobilization to resolve local conflicts and actualize socio-political projects. Engaging with seminal theoretical writings and using case studies that span the US, the course questions what a deep analysis of social patterns and practices can tell us about the forces that continue to shape our lives in the 21st century.
Migration, Politics and power
The twenty-first century is one of unprecedented movement in and across nation states. Faster transport, transnational and regional mobility agreements, and a proliferation of immigration and security technologies all offer the global citizen the freedom to move across territorial boundaries with ease. But at the same time, while immigration controls promise freedom for some, for others it has become increasingly difficult to move elsewhere. This course focuses on the migration security landscape, looking at how border externalizations and biopolitical practices stretch the border well beyond the territorial limits of the state. The first part of the course examines the American-Mexican borderlands in the contemporary moment, discussing the confluence of public and private sector interests that come together in the migration-security nexus. The second part addresses how nation state exclusions create new forms of illegality and bordered identities. We discuss the creation of the "undocumented" as a human subject, asking how borders and other managerial practices structure individual lives but also shape and define human relations. Through ethnographic research assignments, guest lectures and engaged discussion, this course aims to draw students into critical conversation with current debates in the field, as well as merging social justice concerns with rigorous theoretical dialogue.