Faculty Profile

James Ellison

Associate Professor of Anthropology (2005)

Contact Information

ellisonj@dickinson.edu

Denny Hall Room 307
717.245.1902

Bio

A broadly trained cultural anthropologist, Ellison researches political and economic transformations and culture in eastern Africa, focusing on colonialism, socialism, and "neoliberalism." His main fieldwork sites are in Tanzania and Ethiopia. He also co-directs a summer field school in Tanzania to teach anthropological research methods.

Education

  • B.A., Michigan State University, 1987
  • M.A., University of Florida, 1990
  • Ph.D., 1999

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

FYSM 100 First-Year Seminar
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: - Critically analyze information and ideas - Examine issues from multiple perspectives - Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason - Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and - Create clear academic writing The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.

ANTH 100 Intro to Biological Anthro
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of biological anthropology. We will examine the development of evolutionary theory. We will then apply evolutionary theory to understand principles of inheritance, familial and population genetics in humans, human biological diversity and adaptations to different environments, behavioral and ecological diversity in nonhuman primates, and the analysis of the human skeleton and fossil record to understand the origin and evolution of the human family. Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week. Offered three semesters over a two-year period.

ANTH 100 Intro to Biological Anthro
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of biological anthropology. We will examine the development of evolutionary theory. We will then apply evolutionary theory to understand principles of inheritance, familial and population genetics in humans, human biological diversity and adaptations to different environments, behavioral and ecological diversity in nonhuman primates, and the analysis of the human skeleton and fossil record to understand the origin and evolution of the human family. Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week. Offered three semesters over a two-year period.

ANTH 101 Anthro for the 21st Century
The primary focus is on cultural anthropology, or the comparative study of human diversity across cultures. Other subfields within anthropology, namely archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology will also contribute perspectives. The goal is to demonstrate how anthropological perspectives enlighten our understanding of contemporary social phenomena and problems, highlighting the relevance of anthropology to everyday lives and especially to issues of human diversity. Offered every semester.

ANTH 214 Ecological Anthropology
An examination of human adaption to changing environments with an emphasis on systems analysis. Special attention to development and current environmental problems. Offered every other year.

AFST 220 Ethnography of Postcol Africa
Cross-listed with ANTH 230-01. This course is intended as both an introduction to the ethnography of Africa and an examination of postcolonial situations in Africa. We will learn a great deal about the cultural, social, political, and economic diversity of the continent while avoiding the typological thinking that once characterized area studies. Through ethnography we will learn about African cultures, their historical contingencies, and their entanglements in various fields of power. We will assess the changing influences of pre-colonial traditions, colonialism, postcolonial states, and the global economy.

ANTH 230 Ethnography of Postcol Africa
Cross-listed with AFST 220-02.

ANTH 245 Bio Determ and Myth of Race
In this course, we will critically assess biological determinism—jumping to biological explanations erroneously—in relation to race, war, gender and sex, and economic inequality. Through the lens of biological anthropology, we will explore conflicting theories of “human nature,” the American eugenics movement, modern scientific racism, and the origin of the concept of race. We will consider questions, such as: Are humans naturally egalitarian? And, is xenophobia evolutionarily adaptive? We will delve into some complex issues, such as that although biological races do not exist in humans, inequality and racism are so pervasive in many societies that they leave measurable biological effects on members of certain ethnic groups.

ANTH 245 Primate Socioecology
This course offers a survey of the order Primates. We will cover the evolution, social behavior, and ecology of our closest relatives: monkeys, apes, and prosimians. In addition to an examination of taxonomy, anatomy, reproduction, and growth and development, emphasis will be placed on conservation and the methods of field primatology. We will address some compelling issues, including aggressive and cooperative behavior, animal tool use, what makes primates distinct, and what distinguishes humans in particular.

ANTH 336 Social Distinctions
This course covers anthropological theories of social hierarchy and stratification. Both the material and ideological bases of social distinction are examined. Gender, class, race, ethnicity, kinship, and slavery are some of the specific topics covered in the course. Prerequisite: 101. Offered every fall.