Anthropological Perspectives on Activism and Social Justice


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead, Anthropologist. This course investigates the social movements of our day in order to understand the work of activists and the social worlds they advocate to change. In addition to critical engagement with writing about social movements, there will also be a service-learning component of this course. Students will learn how to use the ethnographic research method of participant observation in a Triangle-based community activist organization to produce a community-based research project. Course readings and activities are designed to help students critically reflect on dimensions of their community-based research project within the broader ethical, cultural and theoretical questions of social justice. Specifically, we will read material on the Sanctuary Movement, #BlackLivesMatter, the Monument Debate, the hacktivism of Anonymous, #MeToo, Standing Rock and the Dakota Access PipeLine, the Slow Food Movement, Boycott Divestment Sanctions, Prison Reform, and the Occupy Movement.  This course encourages students to explore their own social commitments and what it means for them to be engaged and active participants in the world.