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History and Theory of Anthropology Syllabus

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Anthropology 303: History and Theory of Anthropology

Autumn 2010

Tuesday, Thursday 11:30-1

 

This class is designed to provide a sense of the main themes in and around anthropology. We will read theoretical texts and ethnographies that have animated contemporary anthropology and demonstrate the discipline’s crucial historical debates. The reading will compare and contrast American, British, and French traditions of social thought. We will examine theories of culture and race and notions of ritual, religion, and exchange as crucial foundational concepts. We will also look at the interplay between ethnography as a methodology central to understanding sense and meaning, structure and society. We will examine how language and symbols are understood in various social contexts. Throughout our readings we will be examining how different anthropologists have understood the relationship between collective practice and individual action.   This question lies at the heart of social theory, and thus we will make an effort to link the writings of anthropologists with other influential social theorists. We will trace the movement from understanding culture as a bounded object of inquiry to an understanding that emphasizes more fluid sets of social relations, inflected by power. We will examine the tension between historical and ethnographic inquiry. We will discuss critiques of anthropological knowledge and ethnographic representations emerging in the 1980s. We will examine how considerations of race, class, gender, and sexuality force new understandings of the object of study in postcolonial worlds, and how anthropologists address issues of violence and inequality in contemporary global contexts. We will look at the relationship of fiction to anthropology and the role of new media in reshaping disciplinary approaches. The goal of the course is to develop key analytic questions, which may serve as a basis for further social inquiry.


Required Books

Achebe, Chinua. 1958. Things Fall Apart. Longmann: London.

Adichie, Chimamanda. Half of a Yellow Sun.

Appadurai, Arjun. 2006. Fear of Small Numbers. Durham: Duke University Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1. New York: Vintage Books.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. 1995. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press.

 

Grading and Requirements

Presentation                                                                                                                                                                  15%

Participation (discussion and attendance)                                                                                                            15%

Paper 1                                                                                                                                                                                    15%

Paper 2                                                                                                                                                                                    20%

Paper 3                                                                                                                                                                                    35%

Presentation: Each student will be responsible for presenting the reading for one week of the course. The student will prepare a 10 minute presentation discussing the main theoretical points in the Tuesday class for that week. Examples can be used from outside of class.

Participation: It is important that students come to class prepared to actively participate. The material for this class often requires more than one reading. Please schedule your time accordingly. I encourage you to take brief notes while you read and if possible discuss the material with other class members before class. Attendance is important and unexcused absences will affect your final grade. Phones must be turned off or put on silent. There is no texting in class.

Paper 1: 3 pages-[Due Sept. 21] Students will pick a ritual event and use the reading from weeks 1, 2, and 3 to describe it. The paper will require you to delve in depth into theoretical approaches to social change, notions of culture, and community identifications as discussed in class and in the reading and to link these concepts to a real-world example.

Paper 2-Research Project: 4-6 pages-[Nov. 16] Students will apply ethnographic methods in writing a short research proposal with bibliography on an original research topic of their choosing. Topics should be discussed with the professor in or outside of class and should address the link between research techniques, abstract theory, and how a researcher’s approach makes or hinders understanding social life. Use of video and new media is viable though there still needs to be a paper. This topic can be oriented towards students senior thesis.

Paper 3: 10 pages-[Due Dec. 14] Students will be given several questions to take home and response to in writing. Based primarily on theoretical readings, the papers will require you to contexutalize theoretical approaches, explaining its assumptions and main questions or to compare two different approaches.

These papers are relatively short to give students time to focus on quality and organization and write rough drafts. Students are encouraged to discuss ideas for structuring their work with the professor and with staff at the writing center.

 

Week 1 (Aug, 31, Sept. 2) ALIENATION: ETHNOGRAPHY OF CONTRADICTIONS AND SOCIAL ORDER

Introduction: What is Culture? Discuss.

 

Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson. Beyond "Culture": Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference.

 

Comaroff, Jean and John L. Naturing the Nation: Aliens, Apocalypse, and the Poscolonial State.

 

Further Reading:

Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger.

 

Week 2 (Sept. 7, 9) IMAGINING: FROM NATIONALISM TO GLOBALIZATION IN EXPERIENTIAL FORMS

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities.

 

Appadurai, Arjun. Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy. In Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization.

 

Tsing, Anna. The Global Situation.

 

Tsing, Anna. Becoming a Tribal Elder and other Green Development Fantasies

 

Week 3 (Sept. 14, 16) RITUAL, WITCHCRAFT, AND SOCIAL ORDER

Turner, Victor. Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rite de Passage

 

Turner, Victor. Symbols in Ndembu Ritual.

 

Evans-Pritchard, E.E. Witchcraft. Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande.

 

Comaroff, John and Jean. Criminal Justice, Cultural Justice: The Limits of Liberalism and the Pragmatics of Difference in the New South Africa.

 

Further Reading:

Durkheim, Emile. Elementary Forms of Religious Life.

Durkheim, Emile. What is a Social Fact?

Malinowski, Bronislaw. The Role of Magic and Religion.

Fortes, Meyer. Webs of Kinship

 

Week 4 (Sept. 21, 23) STRUCTURE AND MYTH

First Paper due Sept. 21 in class.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics & Signs.

 

[for background Culler, Jonathan. Saussure’s Theory of Language.]

 

Levi-Strauss. The Effectiveness of Symbols.

 

Levi-Strauss, Claude. The Structural Study of Myth.

 

Barthes, Roland. Myth Today. 

 

Further Reading:

Ortner, Sherry. On Key Symbols.

Daniel, Valentine. Equilibrium Regained. In Fluid Signs: Being a Person the Tamil Way

Geertz, Clifford. From the Native’s Point of View: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding

 

Week 5 (Sept. 28, 30) POWER IN SEXUALITY/GENDER

Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality, Vol. 1.

 

Rubin, Gayle. The Traffic of Women: Towards a Political Economy of Sex. In Toward an Anthropology of Women.

 

Further Reading: 

Weber, Max. Types of Legitimate Domination.

Visweswaren, Kamala. Histories of Feminist Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology

Haraway, Donna. Situated Knowledges: the Science Question in Feminism as a Site of Discourse on the Privilege of Partial Perspective. 

Talpade, Chandra Mohanty. Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex.

Butler, JudithGender is Burning. In Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’

Ortner, Sherry. Is Woman to Man as Nature is to Culture? Woman, Culture and Society

Mascia-Lees, Frances, Patricia Sharpe and Colleen Ballerino Cohen. 1989. The Postmodernist Turn in Anthropology: Cautions from a Feminist Perspective.

 

Week 6 (Oct. 5, 7) RACE, LANGUAGE, CULTURE

Boas, Franz. What is Anthropology? & The Problem of Race.

 

Boas, Franz. The Limitations of the Comparative Method in Anthropology

 

Sapir, Edward. Language

 

DuBois, W.E.B. Souls of Black Folks. Chapter one.

 

Baker, Lee Rethinking Race at the Turn of the Century: W.E.B. DuBois and Franz Boas.

 

Further Reading:

Stocking, George. Boas and the Culture Concept in Historical Perspective.

Boas, Franz. The Methods of Ethnology

 

Week 7 (Oct. 12, 14) FALL BREAK NO CLASSES

 

Week 8 (Oct. 19, 21) ANTHROPOLOGY, HISTORY, MEMORY

Trouillot, Michel. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History.

 

Further Reading:

Ho, Enseng. Graves of Tarim.

Mintz, Sidney. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books.

Wolf, Eric. Europe and the People Without History.

Foucault, Michel. Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. 

Foucault, Michel. The Historical A Priori and the Archive. In Archaeology of Knowledge.

Stoler, Ann. Colonial Archives and the Arts of Governance: On the Content and the Form. In Refiguring the Archive

Dirks, Nicholas. Colonial Histories and Native Informants: Biography of An Archive. In Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia.

 

Week 9 (Oct. 26, 28) ETHNOGRAPHIC METHOD AND VOICING

 Zora Neale Horston, Mules and Men

 

Geertz, Clifford. Thick Description

 

Geertz, Clifford. Malinowski’s Children

 

Further Reading:

Malinowski, Bronislaw. Argonauts of the Western Pacific

Malinowski, B. A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term.

Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression

 

Week 10 (Nov. 2, 4) COMMODITY, VALUE, POLITICAL ECONOMY

Marx, Karl. The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof. In Capital, Vol. 1.

 

Marx, Karl. The German Ideology. Selections.

 

Williams, Raymond. ‘Culture’, ‘Hegemony’ In Marxism and Literature.

 

Rutherford, Danilyn. Intimacy and Alienation: Money and the Foreign in Biak. Public Culture

 

Further Reading:

Mauss, Marcel. The Gift.

Taussig, Michael. History as a Commodity in Some Recent (anthropological) literature.

Taussig, Michael. The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America

 

Week 11 (Nov. 9, 11) TECHNOLOGY, MEDIA, MEDIATION

Miller, Daniel. Cell Phone Link Up.

 

Larkin, Brian. 2008. Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Culture in Nigeria. Chapters 2, 5,

 

Adichie, Chimamanda. Half of a Yellow Sun.

 

Further Reading:

Mazzarella, William. Culture, Globalization, Mediation. Annual Review of Anthropology

 

Week 12 (Nov. 16, 18) RETHINKING ETHNOGRAPHY: REFLEXIVITY AND POSTCOLONIALITY

Research Projects Due Nov. 16

Spivak, G. Can the Subaltern Speak?

 

Bhabha, Homi. Of Mimicry and Man.

 

Clifford, James. On Ethnographic Authority. In Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. 

 

Clifford, James. Introduction: Partial Truths. In Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography.

 

Further Reading:

Cohn, Bernard. Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge.

Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson. Beyond ‘Culture’: Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference. 

Chatterjee, Partha. Chapter One. In The Nation and Its Fragments

Behar, Ruth and Linda Gordon, ed. Introduction to Women Writing Culture.

Abu-Lughod, Lila. Writing Against Culture. In Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present

Derrida, Jacques. Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourses of the

Human Sciences. In  Writing and Difference

Bakhtin, M.M. Selection from Discourse in the Novel. In The Dialogic Imagination. 

Stoler, Ann. "In Cold Blood": Hierarchies of Credibility and the Politics of Colonial Narrative. Representations 37,

Metha, Uday. Liberal Strategies of Exclusion. In Tensions of Empire.

AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION New Orleans, LA (17-21 November)

 

Week 13 (Nov. 23, No Class Nov. 25-Thanksgiving) PRACTICE, AGENCY, AND THE BODY

Mauss, Marcel. Techniques of the Body.

 

Bourdieu, Pierre. Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language. In Language and Symbolic Power. (focus on p. 43 – 57)

 

Further Reading:

De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life.

Ong, Aihwa. The Production of Possession: Spirits and the Multinational Corporation in Malaysia. 

Gramsci, Antonio. Hegemony, Relation of Force, Historical Bloc.

Ortner, Sherry. Theory in Anthropology Since the Sixties.

 

Week 14 (Nov. 30, Dec. 2) ETHNOGRAPHY AND FICTION

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart.

 

Further Reading:

Ghosh, Amitav. In An Antique Land.

 

Week 15 (Dec. 7, 9) VIOLENCE, CULTURE, RIGHTS

Hand out Final Paper Topics December 9

Appadurai, Arjun. Fear of Small Numbers.

 

Further Reading:

Asad, Talal. On Suicide Bombing.

 

Final Papers Due December 14

 

 

 

Comments

Abdurazak boru's picture

Social anthropology

plz give me the contemporary anthropology theory

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