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Anthropology & UAP: Questions of Humanity, Culture and the Unknown

Below, interested students and members of the Society can learn about this online course offering in Anthropology, taught by Maya Cowan, a Ph.D. student at SUNY Binghamton.

 9 June - 28 July 2024 Sundays
5 - 8 pm EST

all courses are 125 USD or 50 USD for 3 months

Old Mosaic Wall

Course Description

This 8-week course explores the ways in which the UAP conversation is informed by the culture and history of both the topic itself and the people who are engaging with it. Anthropology and UAP challenges students to explore not just what UAP are and what they can do, but the ways in which people discuss, conceptualize, and know the phenomena.


It appears that the phenomena encompassed in the acronym UAP (“UFOs,” “USOs,” “ghosts,” spirits,” “visitors,” “extraterrestrials,” “foo fighters,” “faeries,” “angels,” etc.) have been with humankind from the very start. The meaning assigned to the phenomena, however, is far from universal. In some cultural contexts this meaning is an open question fraught with worry, secrecy and even alarm, while in other contexts the meaning is totally settled.


This course explores the cultural dimensions of UAP. This includes Indigenous knowledge of what we call UAP, including how the discussion around UAP and space exploration can mirror the ideals of settler colonialism. We will also discuss the emerging academic study of UAP, and how our fascination with the unknown can push science forward. We will also talk about the politics of knowledge creation, and explore what UAP means for the future of humanity.


The course consists of weekly readings and seminar discussions. Synchronous classes will be held each week, using the readings as a framing for the course discussion. Readings for this course are based in the subfield of sociocultural anthropology.

No no matter what your time zone, or your schedule, we encourage you to enroll! For the benefit of any student who can't attend live, the Society will record the sessions and make them available to students (once video processing is complete - generally, two to three days).

The Stars

Weekly Topics

Week 1: What is Anthropology? Anthropological Perspectives on UAP

Week 2: Ontology, Ways of Knowing, and Nonhuman Intelligence

Week 3: Indigenous Knowledge and UAP

Week 4: Space, Otherness and Cultural Metaphors

Week 5: Anthropology and Experiences with the Unknown

Week 6: Religion and UAP

Week 7: UAP, Academia, and Cultures of Expertise

Week 8: Human Futures/Future Humans

New Moon

Maya Cowan is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Binghamton University. Her research focuses on the scientific study of UAP, and the emergence of UAP studies as an academic discipline. She is particularly interested in the interplay of stigma and skepticism in the field, as well as the way evidence is defined and gathered in UAP research. Maya has previously taught anthropology courses at Binghamton University and the University of Saskatchewan. Apart from her dissertation research, she has a longstanding interest in UAP that goes back to her grandfather, who introduced her to the topic from a very young age. She is also a former ghost tour guide and horror movie fan.

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