Teaching

Below I list and describe the courses I have taught. I am happy to share my syllabi and student evaluations upon request (sb4468@columbia.edu).

Tree leaning toward the ground, supported by a sculpture of a wooden hand.

ANTH Mental Health and Illness in Post/Socialism

Spring 2022, Columbia University

This seminar takes mental health and illness in socialist and postsocialist countries as objects of anthropological investigation. It explores the ways in which mental health care, diagnostics, suffering, and therapeutic systems are constituted by and constitutive of the post/socialist cultural, political, and socioeconomic contexts. Topics include critical approaches to psychiatric diagnostics; the development of the Soviet psychiatric complex, neuropharmaceuticals, and addiction treatment practice; the constitution and treatment of mental disabilities; institutional and communal mental
healthcare; deinstitutionalization; experimental treatments; healing and injurious socioeconomic and political forces; social abandonment and death. Class readings will present a mixture of theoretical texts and ethnographic/historical material from post/socialist regions.

Photo credit: Neil Thomas @finleydesign on Unsplash

Crowd of people in winter clothes are marching together on a snowy ground. Some carry banners and flags.

ANTH Post/Socialist Bodies

Spring 2021, Columbia University

This upper-level online seminar examines the cultures and politics of the body in socialist and postsocialist countries. As we will engage with embodied aspects of living under post/socialism, we will treat bodies as sites of political contestation, as well as makers and breakers of cultural worlds. Drawing on anthropological and historical scholarship, we will explore several thematic clusters: corporeal anchors of post/socialist political regimes and ideological formations, variability and commonality of bodily regimes across different post/socialist contexts, and the effects of the creation and dissolution of the Soviet Union on the viability, mortality, and vibrancy of life. We will develop an understanding of post/socialism as a political reality populated by a wide diversity of bodies: laboring and idle, cared and uncared for, gendered and racialized, craving and satiated, disabled and enhanced, among others. This course offers an account on post/socialist idiosyncrasies of the medicalization, politicization, economization, and moralization of bodies.

Photo credit: Svetlana Borodina

Colorful brick wall with an attached sign that says "Accessible Entry"

FWIS Disability Matters (First-Year Writing Intensive Seminar)

Spring 2019, Rice University

With the help of critical disability studies and anthropology of disability scholarship, we unpack the cultural assumptions about disability that depict it as undesirable and lacking. We approach disability as an embodied experience, conditioned by political, sociocultural, and economic forces and interlocked with other markers of difference. Finally, in this course, we examine the ways in which disability is
experienced and viewed as valuable and desirable. Discussion questions include but are not limited to the following: Why and how do words and labels matter? How does disability surface in popular culture, educational and professional domains,
private and intimate lives? How is power distributed alongside the axes of disability, gender, race, class, age, and other markers of difference? What other ideas about disabilities are there in the world and what can we learn from them?

Photo credit: Photo by Daniel Ali on Unsplash

Two people on a side walk. One is a white man wearing a blue hat, gray hoodie and dark pants is using a wheelchair. Another is a woman in a pale purple hoodie and dark pants walking with a cane.

ANTH/SWGS Illness, Disability, and Gendered Bodies

Fall 2018, Rice University

Every human life is shaped and affected by the forces of normalizing dis/ability systems, due to the profound vulnerability of human body-minds. An integral part of social life, culturally specific dis/ability systems condemn and condone certain life choices, unevenly distribute subject positions, and impact individual sociality, economic options, politics, ethics, aesthetics, and epistemics. This course examines how disability interlocks with gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and class to configure human experiences across different national, institutional, and social contexts. With the aim to unpack the normative logic of dis/ability systems that operate through media representations, political discourses, structural inequalities, the system of reproduction, and other channels, we will engage with the anthropology of disability, medical anthropology, and critical disability studies scholarship.  

This course will help students to develop critical tools and vocabularies to address the everyday processes through which gendered, racialized, sexualized, and classed subjects, communities and entire populations get to be and become disabled or enabled.

Photo credit: Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

Svetlana Borodina

sb4468@columbia.edu