Numbers, Power, and Resistance

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Anthropology

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Numbers, Power & Resistance
Fall 2023
Taught By: Erin Simmons
Section: A

CRN: 16194

Credits: 4

"Who and what counts? Who doesn’t count? Who decides what can, and should, be counted and when? This course uses ethnography to look at these questions and how practices of counting, measurement, and quantification have shaped our world. Through ethnographic case studies and primary documents, we will examine how counting in many forms has served as both a tool of oppression and of liberation. The ethnographic lens will allow students to unpack the context, contingencies, and biases inherent in the data produced through counting, no matter how neutrally presented. The course will critically investigate practices of counting such as accounting, demography, fitness tracking, and carbon use quotients. How are narratives of “change” and “progress” linked to processes of quantification? It will also engage with alternative methodologies of counting and ask questions about the ethics of counting itself: when is counting refused, what should be left uncounted and opaque? An expansive understanding of what “counting” can be will take us away from the purely numerical into explorations of rhythm, sound, waves, movement, and time. In considering counting in these various registers, we will spend time with poetry, fiction, music, and mixed media sources. We will end the semester with a focus on work that reimagines or creatively reclaims practices of counting in ways that are liberatory. Students will complete a range of assignments culminating in a final presentation and short explanatory essay on a subject of their choosing."

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Anthropology (ANT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: September 11, 2023 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 19, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 6:54am EST 2/28/2024

Meeting Info:
Days: Monday, Wednesday
Times: 2:00pm - 3:40pm
Building: 6 East 16th Street
Room: 901
Date Range: 8/28/2023 - 12/11/2023