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Cross-Cultural Relations

The history of relations between peoples, cultures, and nations has been a complex one. In some instances, neighboring or distant peoples have engaged in mutually beneficial trade, borrowing of cultural practices, and social encounters. In other instances, it has been one of conflict, ranging from misunderstanding and miscommunication to hostility, domination, and destruction. Yet international and intercultural interactions, whether global or personal, are becoming increasingly significant for more and more people every day, making cross-cultural understanding imperative.

This concentration is designed to foster such understanding by exploring the ethics and politics of cultural encounters, both historic and contemporary, primarily between Western and non-Western societies. Courses in the concentration explore the cultural factors that have facilitated or hindered cross-cultural interaction, notably processes of interpretation and representation, as well as the larger political and economic contexts within which international interactions occur.

The concentration is designed for students wishing to increase cross-cultural communication and to gain knowledge of cultures other than their own as well as of the global system in which they are a part. Students who wish, through comparison, to become more aware of their own culture and the effects it has on them will also benefit. Work in the concentration includes the study of relations among cultures and nations, as well as introductions to some of the beliefs and lifeways of non-Western peoples through courses examining human variation in cross-cultural perspective and specific areas or groups: Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Native and Latin America, and American (United States) studies. This concentration is appropriate for students planning to study abroad and those considering graduate study and careers in anthropology or international relations, especially when complemented by study in a language past the intermediate level. The foundational course Introduction to Anthropology is a background requirement for the concentration, providing students with a cross-cultural and comparative theoretical and empirical framework.


The concentration is designed to give students exposure to three different approaches for thinking about cross-cultural relations: At least two courses focusing on the history, politics, and ethics of cross-cultural interactions; at least one course on the comparative study of international relations; and at least three courses focused on particular non-Western areas. In addition, one course in a topic of American studies is required. Two courses in the concentration must be at the 300-level or above. A minimum of 23 credits is required to complete the concentration requirements.

Note that courses listed are suggestions. Additional courses not listed here may be suitable to fulfill concentration requirements.

I. The History, Politics, and Ethics of Cross-Cultural Interactions and Cultural Understanding

A minimum of two courses:

Anthropology 202 CP Language and Culture
Anthropology 217 CP Ritual and Belief
Anthropology 223 CP Life Histories
Geography 114/214 CP Reading the Cultural Landscape
Geography 213 Global Political Ecologies
Music 227/327 CP Music in World Cultures
Politics 316 The Feminine and the Political
Psychology 215/315 Multicultural Psychology

The Comparative Study of International Relations

Students choose at least one of these courses:

Anthropology 210 CP Colonialism and Tribal Peoples
Economics 209 Intermediate Political Economy
Politics 210 Seminar in Global Politics
Politics 225 Modern Political Ideologies
Sociology 224 Globalization

Area Courses

Students take at least one course in each of three areas or three from one area:


Art History 114 Global Art: Middle East and Asia
Art History 220 CP Imagining the Harem
Asia/Geography 326 Modern China from the Margins
Music 313 CP Music of India
Philosophy 206 CP Religions and Philosophies of East Asia


Anthropology 222 CP African Urban Life
Anthropology 227 CP Gender in Africa
Anthropology 328 Preternatural Predilictions
Art History 113 Global Art: Africa and the Americas

The Middle East

Arabic 101 Accelerated Beginning Arabic II
Arabic 204 Modern Arabic Prose, Poetry, and Politics
Art History 114 Global Art: Middle East and Asia
Philosophy 231 Islamic Philosophy

Native North America and Latin America

Anthropology 214 CP Native American Religions
Art History 113 Global Art: Africa and the Americas
Literature 270 CP Latin American Women Writing Resistance
Spanish 211 20th-Century Latin American Short Story
Spanish 214 CP Latin America Today
Women’s Studies 270 CP Caribbean Women Writing Resistance

American (United States) Studies

Students choose at least one course in this section.
Anthropology 212 Anthropology Goes to the Movies
Anthropology 232 City Life
African American Studies 302 Critical Race Theory
History 229 Chicanas/Chicanos in the U.S.
Literature 238 Contemporary American Fiction
Literature 327 Home on the Range: American Film and Fiction
Psychology 221/321 Stereotyping and Prejudice
Sociology 115 Race, Ethnicity, Class, and Gender

Recent Senior Theses

“The Political Uses of Hindustani”
“Cuentos y Copos”
“The Legacy of French Colonization in Cote d’Ivoire”
“Images of the East”
“Art and Culture of the Australian Aborigines”
“Understanding the Qur’anic Christology: A Platform for Cultural Dialogue”
“Native American and First Nations Education: Past, Present, and Future”
“Bpai Tiew: The Experience of Travel”
“Documenting a Community in Transition: Ashkenazi and Iranian Jews in Great Neck”


Asma Abbas, Milo Alvarez, Gabriel Asfar, Nancy Bonvillain, Kathryn Boswell, Christopher Coggins, Joan DelPlato, Jamie Hutchinson, John Myers, Francisca Oyogoa, Eden-Renee Pruitt, Mileta Roe
Faculty Contact: Nancy Bonvillain