Majors

At Duke Kunshan University, each major consists of an interdisciplinary set of courses that integrate different forms of knowledge and a distinct set of disciplinary courses that provide expertise in specific areas.

Cultures and Movements (Tracks: Sociology and Cultural Anthropology)
Culture and movements are two interdependent areas of inquiry studies across the social sciences that have implications for understanding contemporary public discourse, policy debates, and current events. This major provides students the opportunity to engage in both the academic study of the important issues on culture and movements and to think about how findings from basic research can be relevant to more applied, policy issues. Students in this major will be exposed to interdisciplinary approaches to both theoretical understanding of culture and movements and the methods used to study related issues.
Cultures and Movements/Sociology

Required Courses

Divisional Foundation Courses
Interdisciplinary Courses
Disciplinary Courses
And choose two courses from the following five courses

Recommended Electives for the Major

Courses listed below are recommended electives for the major. Students can also select other courses in different divisions as electives.

 

Cultures and Movements/Cultural Anthropology

Required Courses

Divisional Foundation Courses
Interdisciplinary Courses
Disciplinary Courses
And choose two courses from the following five courses

Recommended Electives for the Major

Courses listed below are recommended electives for the major. Students can also select other courses in different divisions as electives.

 

Career Path

The Cultures and Movements major prepares graduates for advanced study in social sciences, public policy, management and for careers in fields such as policy organizations, non-governmental organizations, consulting companies, research institutions, universities and other areas.

Foundational Questions in Social Science

People everywhere ponder and debate fundamental questions: What does it mean to be human? How is society to be ordered? What is a moral life? Our ancestors asked such questions as well: it is likely that those questions lie at the origins of humanity itself. They also provide the foundations for much of the most important research in the social sciences today. This course examines the ways in which social scientists from a diversity of disciplines approach these fundamental questions. Study material for the course will include foundational texts from across the social sciences, as well as cutting-edge research from the present day. This course will not attempt to answer these vast questions, or provide neat solutions for students: rather, we want to excite students about the social sciences and whet their appetites for further study.

Introduction to Research Methods

The fundamental concepts and tools of calculus, probability, and linear algebra are essential to modern sciences, from the theories of physics and chemistry that have long been tightly coupled to mathematical ideas, to the collection and analysis of data on complex biological systems. Given the emerging technologies for collecting and sharing large data sets, some familiarity with computational and statistical methods is now also essential for modeling biological and physical systems and interpreting experimental results. MF1 is an introduction to differential and integral calculus that focuses on the concepts necessary for understanding the meaning of differential equations and their solutions. It includes an introduction to a software package for numerical solution of ordinary differential equations.

Cultures of Globalization

This course traces the histories of global exchange and explores how they intersect with various cultures of globalization in the present-day. This course analyzes how early exploration and colonial trade relate to global connections in the contemporary period. This course shows how historical and anthropological approaches have shed light on the importance of border-crossings and cross-cultural encounters in shaping social identities and differences; spatial cores and peripheries; and hierarchies and societal transformations. Attention to global encounters allows us to deepen our understanding of trade, civilization, state-building, labor, and global food chains. Together, these aspects of everyday life and social organization reveal the diversity and dynamism of globalization.

Migration, Inequality and Culture

This course explores selected aspects of the vast history of migration, with an emphasis on works that illuminate how cultural and structural systems of power and inequality shape and are shaped by movement across borders. We will consider how diverse forms of migration impact and are in turn impacted by ideas of citizenship, language, food, race, gender, sexuality, and national belonging, and how these make and remake culture in different places and times. The course will explore Chinese and Japanese migrations to Southeast Asia and the Americas from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. It will also study the recent migration of Chinese to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the movement of peoples and cultures out of Africa and the processes and politics of migration in Europe.

Culture and Social Movements

This course focuses on the culture and politics of social movements, interest groups, NGOs, and collective protest activity. This course explores theoretical approaches to understand the organizational, tactical, and affective dimensions of social discontent, resistance, collective action, and protest. It will also examine histories of direct action such as public provocation and moral shock, occupation of buildings and sit-ins, marches and street blocking, performance and “art-activism”. The students will be required to select and conduct an independent research project. Possible examples: Black Lives Matters, the Tea-Party, “white rage” and the election of Donald Trump, neo-fascist movements in Europe and elsewhere, the Arab Spring, environmental protest movements, labor activism, and suicide as a form of protest.

Wealth, Inequality and Power

This course is about how some people get ahead and have income, wealth, and power while others stay poor. People generally agree that having some wealth is better than having none, but wealth – and the processes that create wealth – are perhaps more important than we usually acknowledge. In the course, we will distinguish wealth (ownership of houses, savings, and investments) from income (wages and salaries) and discuss why this difference matters. We will discuss how wealth, income, and other material benefits are distributed across people and families. Then we will spend the bulk of the semester exploring the origins and consequences of wealth ownership and inequality.

Social Science Perspectives on China: From the Socialist Past to the Global Present

This course is an advanced course on social science approaches to the study of China. We begin with the role of anthropology and sociology in the May Fourth Period, and then trace its development through the socialist period and into the transition to a market economy. We explore the dynamics between the rural and the urban under different regimes, forms of unequal social and economic development, the socialist “work unit” system, theories of “guanxi” (social exchange), the role and figure of the peasant and the more recent figure of the cosmopolitan urbanite, the changing dynamics between public and private life, the cultures and politics of China’s multi-ethnic border regions, population control and birthing policies, and the changing structures and attitudes toward family, marriage, gender and sexuality. These topics will be surveyed both books and articles, feature films, novels and short stories, documentaries and readings from popular culture. While this course will utilize materials from the “western” anthropology of China, we will also engage the flourishing field of socio-cultural anthropology within China, inviting leading anthropologists in China for guest lectures and conversations via teleconferencing. A fieldwork dimension will also be added to the course, focusing on Kunshan, Shanghai and environs, and the Suzhou corridor.

Theory and Society

This course exposes students to major classical and modern social theorists from the Enlightenment to the present. The course pays particular attention to theories seeking to follow models of the natural sciences and those seeking a more critical and interpretive understanding of modern society. Topics also include examining how sociological theory relates to other modern currents, such as conservatism, socialism, existentialism, anti-colonialism, feminism, post-modernism.

Sociological Inquiry

Sociological inquiry trains students in the sociological methods used to study networks, groups, organizations, and institutions. Methods related to the impact of technology on social interaction and cultural change receive particular attention. Students will both learn new research methodologies and apply them to the investigation of cultural and social construction of individual characteristics (e.g., race, gender) as well as of scientific and professional standards. Ethical controversies surrounding health care, education, income inequality, and related topics are addressed throughout the course.

Sociology of Culture

The terms “culture” and “cultural” have a wide range of meanings: objects, genres, actions (especially conventional), mental representations, and even complex institutional structures are all part of culture. Many sociologists argue that culture is not its object, rather it is an approach; it is about shared meaning and permeates all of social life. This course will allow students to engage in and contribute to this conversation in an effort to develop their understanding of culture and related changes in social processes over time. This course exposes students to the unique approaches the sociologists take to understanding culture and introduces them to many of the major theorists of culture. By the end of the course, students will have a basic toolkit for understanding society culturally.

Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods

This course will introduce students to common statistics used in social science research articles and the media, with the goal of making them informed and critical consumers of research results reported by various sources. Students will gain understanding of the conceptual basis and purpose of different statistics, as well as the formulas for deriving them. The relationship of statistical analysis to other components of the research process will be explicated. The course will be taught using team-based learning with an emphasis on the application of new concepts, knowledge, and skills in the classroom. Application activities will include interpreting statistics presented in tables and graphics in research articles and the media, critiquing conclusions drawn from statistics, and using statistical software, such as SPSS or Stata, to conduct statistical tests and generate tables and graphics.

Contemporary Social Problems

Social problems both reflect and generate social change; this course provides a comparative analysis of the major social problems that have propelled social and cultural dynamics across historical periods, nations, and social groups by gender, race/ethnicity, and social class. The course explores the origins and implications of deviant behavior, social conflict and inequality, human progress and social change. Because studying social problems often involves specialize research methods, this course also investigates issues such as the unique inductive and deductive processes and related analysis methods that have developed in this field.

Identity, Action, and Emotion

Sociologists and social psychologists have made significant strides in recent decades using mathematical models to describe how people import cultural meanings into social interactions. This course explains how people maintain identities in role relationships and group interactions, and it explores a theory of how people perform normal institutional roles, respond to odd situations, and try to feel good about themselves. Students will learn to use computer simulations to model self, identity and emotional processes. They will leave the course knowing how to think scientifically about routine and unexpected parts of everyday life.

Society, the Self, and the Changing Natural World

This course is an exploration of the changing and contrasting perceptions of social, themselves, and the natural world that people develop over the life course. It investigates how our perceptions are conditioned by the times we live in and reigning assumptions of our societies. The course covers a range of related topics including the exploration of perceptions of the self through the arts, the changing role of women in society, and the examination of science and society conflicts.

Social Inequality

Variations in the structure of inequality over time and across nations shape the way people behave, the interactions they have every day, and the challenges they will face across the life course. Inequality shapes and is shaped by educational institutions, economic development, work institutions, and state welfare programs. This course explores the nature, forms, and socioeconomic bases of inequality and social stratification. It pays particular attention to age, gender, race, ethnicity, class, region, and family as dimensions of inequality. The course pays particular attention to the degree to which people are able to change positions in the social structure over time.

Race, Ethnicity, and Citizenship

Race, ethnicity, and citizenship structure interactions and social change in all countries, and they also condition the forms of interaction that determine global processes and well-being. This course provides a critical framework to access origins, manifestations and evolution of race, ethnicity and citizenship. The course reviews and addresses the origins of and theoretical orientations of race, ethnicity and citizenship as constructs with social and political implications. It examines different ethnographies as well as quantitative studies to pinpoint how social scientists actually examine and draws conclusions about race, ethnicity and citizenship.

Gender, Work, and Organizations

Research and theories on gender issues in the organization of work are central to inquiry across the social sciences and in sociology, in particular. The socio-historical causes of gender segregation in the workplace and the contemporary consequences for wages and occupational status have permeated research and have been central to policy discussions as well. This course studies how gender interacts with work and complex organizations such as businesses, not-for-profits, and government agencies. It looks at how women have changed their roles in many societies and asks why progress has been slower in others. It uses case studies of specific work organizations with gender-related problems in group projects and presentations.

The Social, Political, and Economic Implications of Immigration

The regulation of labor immigration is among the most important and controversial public policy issues in high-income countries, but these issues have implications for understanding the social, political, and economic structures of all nations. Many countries in Europe and North America, including the UK and the US, have experienced very rapid increase in labor immigration over the past 20 years. In China, immigration, return migration, and internal migration have shaped much of its development. This course attempts to understand the determinants of immigration and how nations approach this critical social issue.

Foundational Questions in Social Science

People everywhere ponder and debate fundamental questions: What does it mean to be human? How is society to be ordered? What is a moral life? Our ancestors asked such questions as well: it is likely that those questions lie at the origins of humanity itself. They also provide the foundations for much of the most important research in the social sciences today. This course examines the ways in which social scientists from a diversity of disciplines approach these fundamental questions. Study material for the course will include foundational texts from across the social sciences, as well as cutting-edge research from the present day. This course will not attempt to answer these vast questions, or provide neat solutions for students: rather, we want to excite students about the social sciences and whet their appetites for further study.

Introduction to Research Methods

This course provides students with an understanding of research designs and research methods used in the social sciences. Students will learn about the scientific method, research methods and design, measurement, and ethical issues. Topics include quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as mixed methods.

Cultures of Globalization

This course traces the histories of global exchange and explores how they intersect with various cultures of globalization in the present-day. This course analyzes how early exploration and colonial trade relate to global connections in the contemporary period. This course shows how historical and anthropological approaches have shed light on the importance of border-crossings and cross-cultural encounters in shaping social identities and differences; spatial cores and peripheries; and hierarchies and societal transformations. Attention to global encounters allows us to deepen our understanding of trade, civilization, state-building, labor, and global food chains. Together, these aspects of everyday life and social organization reveal the diversity and dynamism of globalization.

Migration, Inequality and Culture

This course explores selected aspects of the vast history of migration, with an emphasis on works that illuminate how cultural and structural systems of power and inequality shape and are shaped by movement across borders. We will consider how diverse forms of migration impact and are in turn impacted by ideas of citizenship, language, food, race, gender, sexuality, and national belonging, and how these make and remake culture in different places and times. The course will explore Chinese and Japanese migrations to Southeast Asia and the Americas from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. It will also study the recent migration of Chinese to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the movement of peoples and cultures out of Africa and the processes and politics of migration in Europe.

Culture and Social Movements

This course focuses on the culture and politics of social movements, interest groups, NGOs, and collective protest activity. This course explores theoretical approaches to understand the organizational, tactical, and affective dimensions of social discontent, resistance, collective action, and protest. It will also examine histories of direct action such as public provocation and moral shock, occupation of buildings and sit-ins, marches and street blocking, performance and “art-activism”. The students will be required to select and conduct an independent research project. Possible examples: Black Lives Matters, the Tea-Party, “white rage” and the election of Donald Trump, neo-fascist movements in Europe and elsewhere, the Arab Spring, environmental protest movements, labor activism, and suicide as a form of protest.

Wealth, Inequality and Power

This course is about how some people get ahead and have income, wealth, and power while others stay poor. People generally agree that having some wealth is better than having none, but wealth – and the processes that create wealth – are perhaps more important than we usually acknowledge. In the course, we will distinguish wealth (ownership of houses, savings, and investments) from income (wages and salaries) and discuss why this difference matters. We will discuss how wealth, income, and other material benefits are distributed across people and families. Then we will spend the bulk of the semester exploring the origins and consequences of wealth ownership and inequality.

Social Science Perspectives on China: From the Socialist Past to the Global Present

This course is an advanced course on social science approaches to the study of China. We begin with the role of anthropology and sociology in the May Fourth Period, and then trace its development through the socialist period and into the transition to a market economy. We explore the dynamics between the rural and the urban under different regimes, forms of unequal social and economic development, the socialist “work unit” system, theories of “guanxi” (social exchange), the role and figure of the peasant and the more recent figure of the cosmopolitan urbanite, the changing dynamics between public and private life, the cultures and politics of China’s multi-ethnic border regions, population control and birthing policies, and the changing structures and attitudes toward family, marriage, gender and sexuality. These topics will be surveyed both books and articles, feature films, novels and short stories, documentaries and readings from popular culture. While this course will utilize materials from the “western” anthropology of China, we will also engage the flourishing field of socio-cultural anthropology within China, inviting leading anthropologists in China for guest lectures and conversations via teleconferencing. A fieldwork dimension will also be added to the course, focusing on Kunshan, Shanghai and environs, and the Suzhou corridor.

Gender, Mobility and Labor

The class examines major changes impacting the organization of gender and labor in the 21st century. We will focus on the movement of female migrant workers into manufacturing and service industries in China, of women from the Philippines and other countries in SE Asia to Hong Kong, Nepal and countries in the Middle East, the growth of “low-end” service sector employment generated by companies like Wal-Mart and many others in the United States, the growth of sex work and human trafficking in different contexts around the world, and the politics of gendered work in “high-end” financial service jobs on Wall Street and in Internet companies, from Silicon Valley to the tech sector in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. The final section of the course will focus on questions of gender, labor, and consumption in the burgeoning “sharing economy.” This course therefore takes students into the heart of changing workplaces in different interconnected economies around the world, examining gendered workplace dynamics, such a pay discrimination, sexual harassment, and the use of women in advertising to attract male workers. Students will learn about forms of control and modes of feminist labor organizing, while situating these processes within global dynamics of economic restructuring. The class will help students place their future work aspirations within a global framework. It will also assist them to better grasp the complex politics of gender, mobility, and work in the brave new world of 21st century global capitalism.

Field Methods

This course explores the history and practice of ethnographic field research and engages central debates about ethnographic method. The readings prompt deeper reflection on doing field research, and challenges students to think about anthropological ways of knowing. Students will be required to carry out field research, define and design a project, recording (through field notes or other methods) every step of the way. This is thus a writing- and field research-intensive course. It is organized into several practical components—constituting “the field,” participant-observation (“deep hanging out”), interviewing, and writing up findings. Students will get the chance to put several key methods into practice —analyzing spaces, collecting life histories, doing semi-structured interviews and conducting participant-observation. Students will also have the option to experiment with other methods of collecting data, including the use of photography or digital video.

The Ethnography of China: New Directions

The course provides a critical overview to the anthropology and ethnography of contemporary China. Beginning with the emergence of ethnology in China in the 1920s and 1930s, students will be introduced to some of the key figures in the pre-revolutionary period of China, and the key concepts, theories, and frameworks that emerged during this period in dialogue both with Soviet and British anthropology. The course then turns to the socialist period, and considers early Maoist approaches to the social sciences, and the state project to identify and classify China’s minority nationalities in the 1950s. The post- Mao reform era (1978 to the present) witnesses the globalization of China and the flourishing of a wide range of new kinds of ethnographic projects. This section of the course will pay particular attention to issues of transformations in class, gender, and ethnicity, the study of rural to urban migration, the anthropology of China’s urbanization, environmentalism, commodification and consumption, and the study of development in China’s ethnic border regions.

The Anthropology of Doing Good: China and Beyond

This course explores the intersection of neoliberalism, development and humanitarianism, largely from the perspective of the US and its interventions abroad. We will consider the history of development programs as a global phenomenon and will pay close attention to the impacts of humanitarian interventions and development programs both good and bad. We will critically consider the possibility that development practices can be articulated with progressive local agendas that are not determined solely by global demands. We will pay close attention to the social relations that constitute and inform the relations, rights and obligations that exist between wealthy and the poor, including the US. Finally, the course will explore how humanitarianism has become a pop cultural phenomenon, organized around celebrities, social media campaigns, and online donation platforms not just in the US, but in counties around the world. These varied practices of humanitarian intervention will be examined through ethnographies of development projects around the world as well as through film, television and fictional encounters between dominant countries and the people they are trying to help.

The Culture of Development: Africa

This course takes up the vexed issue of economic development in Africa – its failures, and its successes – from the early colonial period to the present, focusing especially on the transition from the 1960s “modernizing” moment to the Millennium projects and the humanitarian aid of the present. We will read the works of development experts, World Bank executives, anthropologists and historians, exploring the challenges of these projects and what might be done in the future.

Cultures of New Media

This course is an anthropological examination of ‘new media’ – their varied forms and histories, how they are used and understood, and their meanings and effects within different communities of users. We will chart a number of technologies deemed ‘new’ in their day and the social meanings and communities that such technologies generated. We will also explore new media in domains of art and literature, as well as issues of race, gender, sexuality and how other indices of difference come to bear on new media and its use. Most course material will be drawn from anthropology, but will also draw on media studies, visual studies, cultural studies and critical theory, queer and gender theory, history and geography. Students will make use of the Duke library resource page for this class: http://guides.library.duke.edu/new_media.

Medical Anthropology

Illness and healing fundamentally shape our sense of the boundaries between nature and culture, life and death, mind and body, self and environment, and human and machine. The central goal of this course is to examine where, how, and why we encounter, challenge, bridge, or sustain these divisions. To pursue this goal, we examine the cultural, social, and political dimensions of biomedicine globally and cross-culturally. We study ethnographic writing as unique methodological and theoretical inroads into these perspectives. Our discussions will draw on both scholarly and popular cultural accounts of the experiential and interpretive aspects of medicine. Course readings introduce you to key concepts in critical medical anthropology, and trace health, illness, and biomedicine through gender, sexuality and race.

Global Migration and Ethics

This course examines the current scholarship on the anthropology and interdisciplinary study of global migration, and the ethical predicaments at center of contemporary forms of human mobility. Students will consider the particularities of migratory experiences in different regions of the world, and the different types of local, national, and global moral economies that emerge in these different places and histories. Particular attention will be focused on the political questions that arise when human compassion runs into conflict with the desire to preserve the cultural integrity of one’s national identity. The course will draw on ethnographic texts, legal and policy materials, biographies, literature, film, and artistic responses to contemporary migration and refugee crises.

Sound in Everyday Life: Anthropological Perspectives

This course introduces students to the study of sound and sonic environments in urban spaces. Students will learn about theoretical approaches that approach sound and sonic landscapes as socially cultivated and study listening as a cultural practice. This course includes study of sound and music from different traditions around the world, recorded soundscapes (films, games, installations), built and ecological environments (parks, subways, streets, institutions, clubs, neighborhoods), the politics of making sound, and the history and use of sound technology (sound production, reproduction, reception, acoustic materials). This course introduces students to the study of noise in relation to public life, the representation of public life in sound, the shaping of city living practices by its acoustic architecture, and creative responses of sound in urban activist projects. Students in this course will conduct their own fieldwork on urban soundscapes.

Globalization and Alternative-Globalizations

The course explores the culture, politics and process of globalization in light of the responses, ideologies, and practices of the anti-globalization movement. We will focus on the interrelationship between the analysis of globalization and policy formulation on such topics as social justice, radical environmentalism, animal rights, labor, migration, poverty, natural resource management, religion and citizenship. Special attention will be focused on the role of social media, film, and photography in anti- and alternative globalization movements. Case studies from the United States, Latin America, South and East Asia, Africa, and Europe will be explored.

Politics of Food: Land, Labor, Health, and Economics

Explores the food system through fieldwork, study, and guest lectures that include farmers, nutritionists, sustainable agriculture advocates, rural organizers, and farmworker activists. Examines how food is produced, seeks to identify and understand its workers and working conditions in fields and factories, and, using documentary research conducted in the field and other means, unpacks the major current issues in the food justice arena globally and locally. Fieldwork required, but no advanced technological experience necessary. At least one group field trip, perhaps to a local farm or farmers market, required.

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

This course introduces the key concepts and debates within Cultural Anthropology with topics such as racism and essentialism, kinship, gender and sexuality, globalization, etc. In an age where debates addressing migration, robotics, genetic engineering, and ecological crises abound, questions about how humanity is experienced and defined have become more pertinent than ever before.

Home, House, and Housing: An Anthropological Exploration of Human Dwellings

This course will explore the home as a site of attachment, the house as a place that emerged from social relationships, and housing an infrastructure whose construction is shaped by politico-economic forces. The interrelationship between the home, the house, and housing will be discussed. The course will cover contemporary issues of housing such as gentrification, segregation, and eviction. The course will provide broader and deeper understandings of the meanings of home and our relationship to the built environment.