My main goal as an educator is to instill a passion for questioning and understanding the world. Back in 1997, during my freshman year at the Université de Montréal, I decided to dedicate my life’s work to anthropology and archaeology. At the time, I was profoundly inspired by the intellectual curiosity, academic rigor, and dedication of my professors, many of whom would become my field supervisors, thesis advisors, and career mentors. Everyday spent on LSU’s campus or in the field in Peru acts as a reminder of this epiphany and the ways my own teaching and mentoring can impact students, their careers, and life more generally. I find great satisfaction in helping students develop intellectual strategies to answer their queries empirically and critically and teaching them to nurture the life and work habits necessary to achieve high academic standards.
Below are short descriptions of the various courses I instruct at LSU along with sample syllabi.
ANTH2016 Field Methods in Archaeology: To some extent, archaeological methods can only be taught and learned in the field. From that perspective, this course provides a hands-on introduction to field techniques and methods in the specific context of Andean archaeology. You will actively participate in the various stages of a field archaeology project at the site of Caylán, a first millennium BC settlement with dense and complex architectural settings. Among other things, you will be embedded in problem-oriented test units and area excavations, mapping operations, and laboratory cataloguing procedures. You will become familiar with basic field equipment and their manipulation. The course is also designed to introduce you to the local prehistory through literature reviews, lectures, discussions, and visits of neighboring archaeological sites. The project is set in the small town of Nepeña where you will be able to interact with local community members and learn about contemporary Peruvian culture. This course emphasizes the development of your capacities to work as a team, and learn about foreign cultural practices, both past and present. Sample ANTH 2016 syllabus.
ANTH2050 World Archaeology: This course provides an introduction to the archaeology of ancient human societies around the globe, from the appearance of our biped ancestors in Africa millions of years ago to the rise of civilizations and state societies, some only a few centuries ago, depending on the region. Considering this vast time frame, the course can only offer a very selective survey of world archaeology, focusing on some of the most salient archaeological discoveries, sites, problems, and interpretations.
By taking an archaeological approach – in other words by focusing on the material remains left behind by ancient populations – and following a roughly chronological order, the course considers a series of problems and case studies that shed light on the richness of human lifestyles and achievements. The course roughly follows the organization of the textbook and is organized into 13 modules. Beginning with the origins of modern humans in Africa and their spread to remote regions of the world, we explore the ways of life of early humans including toolmaking, scavenging, hunting, and foraging. We also investigate the origins of food production and the transition to more complex social formations focusing on early sedentism, plant and animal domestication, and technological innovations such as ceramics, storage, and metalworking. Ultimately, we examine and compare the processes involved in the rise of state-like polities in different parts of the world. The survey touches upon several different regions, ancient groups, sites, and artifacts, as well as the archaeologists studying them and the methods and data they rely on. Sample ANTH 2050 syllabus.
ANTH4020 Method and Theory in Archaeology: This course examines the intellectual, historical, and methodological foundations of archaeological research. It is designed to introduce and discuss some of the concepts and ideas at the core of the archaeological inquiry, focusing on major developments, protagonists and approaches. From the field to the laboratory, research design and methods will be explored. Special attention will be given to the history of ideas and the way they have shaped the discipline with the objective of understanding the theoretical articulation between different levels of thinking and the practice of archaeology. Sample ANTH 4020 syllabus.
ANTH4022 Ancient Civilizations of South America: As early as 15,000 years ago, human populations settled in the vast and diverse South American continent. From the Amazon lowlands to the Andean highlands and the Pacific desert coast, prehistoric societies developed complex and fascinating ways of life and social organization. This course explores the past of this important region through archaeological lenses, tracing back the development of ancient South American civilizations from hunter-gatherers to complex agrarian societies and territorial empires. We will cover in detail the different periods of cultural developments, the social organization of the various social formations and the political dynamics that characterized social changes in ancient South America. Emphasis will be placed on current research trends and recent findings, the distinction and complementarity between different environments, and various ancient social practices, from food collecting to agriculture, trade, ritual life, and the dynamics of political systems. Sample ANTH 4022 syllabus.
ANTH4025 Archaeology of Foodways: Food pervades all aspects of our existence. It is at the center of every economy and guides multiple levels of decisions and interactions. Although universal, food is extremely diverse in forms, chainworks, tastes, and meanings. Beyond production and sustenance, the acts of cooking, eating and drinking bind people together through symbolism, shared experiences, and status. Through both inclusionary and exclusionary strategies, food and drink serve to define identity, strengthen social bonds, and enact memory. This course explores the archaeology of foodways through time and space, and their role in different ancient and contemporary societies. Embracing perspectives and methodologies from social archaeology, zooarchaeology, and paleoethnobotany, we seek a historical understanding of the development of foodways. Our journey begins with the appearance of hominin ancestors some 5 million ago to the rise of food production and complex, urban societies. We also examine the cultural variations associated with foodways, including the strategic endowment of food, its symbolism, as well as prescriptions and proscriptions. The course also focuses on some of the methods employed in the anthropological and archaeological study of food and drink. We tackle issues of commensal/food politics, the political economy of nutrition, and the management and access to resources. We elaborate on patterns of production and food exchange and investigate how food impact social interactions and the development of more complex and intensive forms of economic organization. Sample ANTH 4025 syllabus.
ANTH7901 Introduction to Graduate Studies: This course provides an introduction to graduate studies in geography and anthropology, and offers a series of insights into career developments in academia and beyond. It is designed to help you adjust to life as a graduate students, understand the logistics of graduate studies, and make sure you succeed once you complete your studies at LSU. The course is co-taught by anthropologists and geographers with the objective of catering as much as possible to the diverse needs of our graduate student community. Upon completion of the course, you should be in a position to: (1) Know the requirements of your respective graduate program, (2)Understand the logistics and ethics of graduate studies and their place within your broader field of research and professional development, and (3) Develop expectations about the tools necessary to pursue and achieve your career goals. Sample ANTH 7901 syllabus.
ANTH7070 Ritual: Theory, Context and Performance: From rites of passage to religious liturgies, mythologies, superstitions, cultural habits, national celebrations, Olympic Games, and our relations to the special and the sacred, ritual is a universal aspect of human existence. Not only does ritual pervades the different stages of our personal life histories, it also brings community members together, negotiate social identities, and reproduce structures of power and inequalities. Ritual is often intimately linked to the materiality of our social lives, but it can also enact more spiritual and metaphysical realms. Sacred spaces, buildings, and objects are tangible reminders of our ritual interactions and performances. Yet, the propitiating, healing, or even divining power of ritual often rests in our sensual, emotional, and even imaginary perception of ritual events, and their representations. From that standpoint, ritual can be difficult to define, as it encompasses myriad material, and immaterial cultural phenomena. Further, ritual has long been framed as something exotic, to be studied in remote locations through the eyes of traditional societies. Yet, ritual is omnipresent in our own daily lives without us often realizing.
Participants in this seminar will explore the history of thoughts on ritual, from early ventures in the more religious and sacred aspects of ritual, to structural-functional, sociological, anthropological, and psychological approaches developed in the first half of the 20th century. Through the reading and discussion of seminal texts on the anthropology of ritual, participants will engage with the hermeneutics of ritual; trying to interpret ritual in its complexity, cultural context, action, time, space, symbolism, and materiality. We will also dwell on types of ritual, from life events, to public celebrations, ritual knowledge, magic, sacrifice, object making, drama, and performance.
Focus will be placed on going beyond the traditional dichotomy between religious studies and the anthropology of ritual to consider ritual studies as a unique field of study touching upon the personal, social, political, ideological, and material aspects of human existence. The seminar will culminate in a symposium on the materiality of ritual life as viewed through archaeology and anthropology, and social sciences more broadly. Each seminar participant will have to delineate an essay topic to be included in the symposium. The symposium will offer a ground to engage the ways and meanings through which ritual action, space, speech, sounds, and symbols take shape materially, and how this materiality itself becomes the nexus of meaningful social interactions. Sample ANTH 7070 syllabus.
ANTH7909 South American Prehistory: As early as 15,000 years ago, human populations settled in the vast and diverse South American continent. From the Amazonian lowlands to the Andean highlands and the Pacific desert coast, prehistoric societies developed complex and fascinating ways of life and social organization. This seminar explores the past of this important region through archaeological lenses, tracing back the development of ancient South American civilizations from hunter-gatherers to complex agrarian societies and territorial empires. Through readings, group discussions, written assignments, peer-review exercises, and oral presentations, seminar partipants will examine key questions and topics in South American prehistory. We will cover in detail the different periods of cultural developments, but the topical rubrics will emphasize research themes that will allow us to transcend neo-evolutionary frameworks and tackle issues of broader anthropological, material, artistic and architectural importance. Geographically, readings will be weighed more heavily towards the Central Andes and in particular Peru where, historically, more archaeological research has been carried out. Sample ANTH 7909 syllabus.