Heath Cabot

Heath Cabot

207-801-5734 | hcabot@coa.edu

PhD, Cultural Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2010
M.A., Cultural Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2005
B.A., Religion and the Humanities, University of Chicago, 2001

Heath Cabot joined the COA faculty in Fall, 2011, following a postdoctoral appointment in the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University. Her teaching engages a range of topics within anthropology as well as issues of relevance to students interested in socio-cultural theory, law, ethics, advocacy and activism, and social science methodologies. Her most recent research project included twenty months of intensive ethnographic fieldwork in Greece and examined asylum seeking and legal aid practices in Athens.  She is currently working on a book manuscript, under contract with a major university press, on ethics, law, and political asylum in Greece.  Her areas of academic interest and expertise include migration, asylum, and humanitarian ethics in Greece and the European Union; the anthropology of organizations, NGOs, and cultures of advocacy; language, narrative, and translation; and urban memory. Her work has been funded by the Fulbright Foundation, The National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation.

Courses Taught

HS3051Belonging, Mobility and Displacement

What does it mean to belong, or not to belong? What does it mean to be mobile? What is a home, a homeland, home country, or nation? How do experiences of migration, exile, and displacement shift one's understanding of home? New strategies of warfare, statecraft, and political violence, and recent environmental and social disasters, are giving rise to forms of belonging, mobility, and displacement that do not fit within traditional categories. War and political violence destabilize national borders while reinforcing structures of power that bolster or mimic nation-state forms. Environmental disaster and poverty cause displacements that cannot be classified in terms of either "economic" or "forced" migration, but produce composite categories which, as of yet, have no legal foothold, such as "economic" or "environmental" refugees. While popular culture heralds the rise of multiculturalism in a "globalized" world, there are also alarming signals (surveillance, strategies of "profiling," increasing militarization of borders, and race-related violence) that suggest that blood, territory, and race continue as powerful delineators of inclusion and exclusion. This course asks how belonging, mobility, and displacement take shape amid political violence; global migrations of people, capital, and ideas; social inequalities; new forms of political organization and governance (international, grass-roots, supranational); and the continued dominance of nation-states. The course will incorporate theoretical, literary, and ethnographic sources. Students should be willing to challenge themselves in a reading intensive course with a seminar format. Evaluation will be based on the quality of participation in class discussions and on written assignments.
Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisites: Writing requirement must be fulfilled, as well as a reading intensive class in History, Art, or Human Studies. If you feel you can take the class but the above criteria are not fulfilled, speak to the instructor. Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS1031Blood: Substance and Symbol

Blood is a substance with profound imaginative and social power. It ties people together, even when it is spilled. And just as blood produces social bonds, it also divides people and groups according to notions of family, race, and nationhood. Blood both sacralizes and pollutes, entices and disgusts. Blood infects; it also makes people swoon. It also - these days - guarantees instant bestsellers. How can this fluid (mostly water, as we know) do such important social and symbolic work? This course takes blood as a thematic through which students can begin to explore topics that have long been (and continue to be) at the center of cultural and social theory: kinship and blood ties, race, nationhood, pollution, infection and contamination, and rituals of incorporation and transformation (including, perhaps, the current fascination with vampires). Due to the course's theoretical focus, class will be structured around close readings of major contributions to these topics, as well as films. Readings will represent a range of disciplinary approaches, including anthropology, political philosophy, cultural studies, and even classics. Students will be asked to engage carefully with the material both through participation in class and through outside written assignments. Evaluation will be based on class participation (which includes attendance), a presentation, and on assignments conducted outside of class. The course is open to all students, but participants should be prepared to read complex material with care and attention, and should be comfortable in constructing written analyses based on multiple readings.

Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 20. Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS1030Ethnographic Fieldwork

Ethnographic research, which uses methods involving conversation with and participation among other people, has very particular dilemmas. How can we, as both researchers and fellow human travelers, navigate the ethical and emotional complexities of doing research with and about people? How can we navigate the problems of power and trust that arise? And what kinds of usable knowledge can we acquire through the fluidity of our own experiences and encounters "in the field"? This course will provide students with a theoretical and practical toolbox for designing, conducting, and writing up ethnographic research projects. Students will design research questions centered on a particular local site, which they will examine outside of class through a variety of ethnographic techniques. We will give particular attention to questions of ethical practice, note taking and documentation, and finally, data analysis. Readings will supplement theoretical and ethical discussions and will illustrate the possibilities and limits of various methods. Evaluation will be based on class participation, a range of assignments throughout the term, and a final paper and presentation reflecting cumulatively on the project and students' own experiences as ethnographers. Class-time will consist of instruction, discussion, and "labs," in which we will workshop individual projects.

Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 12. Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS864Ethnography, Advocacy, and Ethics

This course considers how ethnographic research and writing can inform and, in turn, be informed by the work of advocacy. Starting from the premise that advocacy is something that we all do, in different ways and at different levels, we will consider what the tools of ethnography can provide us for both furthering, and also critically unpacking, our roles as advocates. We will also consider how we are often called upon to act as advocates through ethnographic fieldwork: to support one cause over another or take a position - even when it might be easier to look away. At the center of our inquiry will be questions of ethics. What does it mean to advocate responsibly and in an ethical manner? How can advocacy help us develop an informed, responsible ethnographic practice? How can ethnography help us understand the effects and (often unintended) consequences of advocacy projects? In addition to articles and primary sources, we will read full-length ethnographies that examine in detail different advocacy projects. Topics may include: health; human rights advocacy around minorities, culture, gender, and food; environmental advocacy; humanitarian and non-governmental interventions; political asylum; local advocacy projects in Maine and on MDI. This intermediate course is intended for students interested in critically examining the work of advocacy and ethnography and who are ready to read and engage intensively both in class and in their writing. Students will be evaluated on class participation and written assignments; there may also be a field component (to be determined in discussion with students). Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: none. Lab fee: none. Class limit: 15 *HS*

HS2042Italian History, Language and Culture

This course will introduce students to the historical frameworks and cultural forms that characterize contemporary Italy and will provide a foundation in conversational Italian. While "Italy" as a place and even a brand (as in "made in Italy") has enormous imaginative and romantic allure around the globe, the complexity and diversity that characterize this country are not always acknowledged. Drawing on historical, literary, and anthropological sources, as well as media, art, and popular culture, students will develop knowledge and tools through which to approach their immersion experience in the spring with care and subtlety. Additionally, through weekly class meetings, outside work, and workshops on evenings and weekends, students will acquire a foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation from which to begin their immersion language studies in Italy. Throughout, students will be asked to reflect on and develop the experiential field-based learning projects that they will be undertaking in the spring and will craft a proposal and set of questions to guide their work. We will also discuss ethics and methods that inform experiential research. Evaluation will be based on participation and engagement, commitment to a project of common learning, and written and oral assessments.

Level: Introductory/ Intermediate.  Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.  Class limit: 12.  Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS4031Power and Governance

This seminar will explore formations and effects of governance and institutionalized power in the Modern and contemporary worlds. We will consider some of the explicit ways in which power over self and other is enacted (through states, institutions, bureaucracies, law, policing and regulatory practices, and transnational governance bodies). Yet we will also ask how power itself is instituted implicitly in everyday routines and practices, in the way we carry our bodies, live our lives, and undertake our work.  We will begin our inquiry with the assumption that power and governance are crucial elements of human social life, productive of social and cultural forms, and that examining how they operate is an important task for human ecologists. What is the relationship between power, social structures, and individual personhood? When and how might one stand outside or contest existing formations of power (if at all)? When does power become violent, or is it inherently so? Who has access to the tools of governance, and for what purposes? This advanced-intermediate class in socio-cultural and political theory will grant students a basic fluency in an array of concepts that are crucial in contemporary social scientific scholarship. Students will also read ethnographic texts to consider how theory is both applied and built in reference to particular case studies. Finally, students will learn to enlist theory to conduct their own analysis of contemporary situations. Students will be expected to take on an active role in defining questions for conversation and in facilitating discussion among their peers.  Evaluation will be based on the quality of participation in discussion (50 percent) and on written assignments (50 percent).
Level: Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites: Writing requirement must be fulfilled, as well as a reading intensive class in History, Art, or Human Studies. If you feel you can take the class but the above are not fulfilled, speak to the instructor. Permission of the instructor required.  Class limit: 12.  Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS3045The Ethnography of Work in Italy

This course will include in depth preparation for conducting experiential, ethnographically informed explorations of cultures of work in the Veneto. Students will be instructed in key ethnographic methods within the context of fieldwork in Northern Italy: interviewing, participant observation, self-reflection and reflexivity, and methods of journaling and writing fieldnotes. These skills will be communicated via seminars and lectures in the field, as students prepare for individual immersion experiences in particular work contexts. During their immersion field experience, the instructors will meet with students at particular intervals to process the challenges and points of interest that have emerged, thus making the learning process an ongoing experience. Throughout, we will ask what an ethnographically informed perspective offers for the understanding of cross-cultural encounters, travel, and the notion of immersion. Students will be evaluated on class participation, the ongoing production of fieldnotes and journal material, and a final reflection on their fieldwork experiences.
Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisites: Italian Language, History, and Culture and permission of the Instructors. Requires the simultaneous enrollment in A Human Ecology of the Veneto and The Poetics and Politics of Cross-Cultural Encounters. Class Limit: 12.  Lab fee: $1580. Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS3047The Poetics and Politics of Cross-Cultural Encounters

This course will consist of an intensive two-week seminar through which students will collaboratively compile and analyze the material gleaned from their encounters in the Veneto. We will engage deeply with the question of how to present these experiences to the very communities that made them possible. Students will consider aspects of form, representation, ethics, politics, and responsibility, as they prepare a series of exhibitions, performances, and presentations to take place in Italy before their departure. A collaborative presentation to the COA community will also be prepared. We will address, in active conversation and hands on work as a group, themes such as: the relationship between individual and community, the encounter between self and other, comparison, and the very meaning of what a “cross-cultural” encounter entails. Students will be evaluated on class participation and their production of a final project in the context of group work.

Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisites: Italian Language, History, and Culture and permission of the Instructors.  Requires the simultaneous enrollment in A Human Ecology of the Veneto and The Ethnography of Work in Italy.  Class Limit: 12.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS4029Water Worlds: Culture and Fluidity

This advanced/ intermediate socio-cultural theory course examines human ecological relationships in a variety of watery spaces. In the humanities and social sciences, oceans, seas, rivers, and watersheds have recently emerged as particularly productive units of socio-cultural analysis. In contrast to the boundedness that can pervade area studies, these "water worlds" convey both the fluidity of cultural connections and the richness and detail of deep historical and ethnographic research. Moreover, water worlds help us consider people in their engagements with ecosystems and geographies. This course centers on a variety of watery regions, including the Mediterranean, the Pacific, river life in the Amazon, The Caribbean, the Black Sea, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and human/ microbial relationships under the ocean. Topics addressed will include: the constructing of regions, critical approaches to geography, alternatives to globalization theories, and postcolonial theory. Intended for students who want to hone their chops in social-cultural analysis and/or those interested in the topic itself. All enrolled students MUST be prepared to read and discuss dense, complex material in cultural studies and social theory and should have background in learning to think and write analytically. Students will be evaluated on participation in class discussion and on outside written assignments.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor. Lab fee: none. Class limit: 15 Meets the following degree requirements: HS