Course code:



M - Intermediate

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:


This course examines homesteading as an economic and cultural practice. Maine is a center of homesteading activity in the United States and an ideal place to study the theory and practice of homesteading. From a food systems perspective, homesteading represents a means of divesting from the global food system through the practice of subsistence agriculture and food preservation. Viewed from an anthropological perspective, homesteading raises interesting questions about why some individuals eschew conventional lifestyles and seek significant degrees of self-sufficiency, various forms of intentional living, and commitments to non-commodified production. A critical examination of homesteading raises questions about privilege and the benefits and limits of social movements founded on personal choice and private property. And viewed through economics, homesteading can be seen as a choice to resist the intrusion of market-based relationships into social life and an attempt to restore social relationships and normative values other than efficiency to production and consumption.

Applying these lenses, this course will examine the conditions that influence contemporary homesteading practices. Three key questions frame the course: (1) What motivates self-identified homesteaders to resist normative lifestyles and seek self-sufficient, non-commodified ways of living? (2) How do variables such as class, education, race, geographic location, and property-ownership shape homesteading practices? (3) What are the benefits and limits of homesteading as a form of resistance to commodified production and consumption? Through readings and fieldwork, students will attempt to answer these questions. Readings will include personal and ethnographic accounts of homesteading as well as critical studies of non-commodified living. Fieldwork will include four daytrips to homesteads. Students will be evaluated based on participation, interviewing exercises, a field journal, and a series of reflection papers.


Permission of instructor.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.