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    Vassar College
   
 
  Sep 24, 2017
 
 
    
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ANTH 360 - Problems in Cultural Analysis


1 unit(s)


Covers a variety of current issues in modern anthropology in terms of ongoing discussion among scholars of diverse opinions rather than a rigid body of fact and theory. The department.

May be repeated for credit if topic has changed.

Topic for 2017/18b:  The Passions and Interests, a Seminar in the Anthropology of Politics. This seminar critically interrogates the dichotomy between reason and emotion as it frames the study of political processes, through the engagement with foundational texts as well as recent research in political anthropology. The course begins with strategies for the pursuit of power and prestige, and then moves to social relations and the sentiments that construct politically efficacious affiliations, solidarities, alliances, and enmities. The final third of the course focuses on recent work on the role of emotion, rhetoric, and narrative in political processes.  Through a succession of case studies from small-scale communities in the Caribbean, Africa, and South-East Asia, as well as planetary imperial formations, students gain an understanding of how anthropologists conceptualize the interaction of political processes at multiple scales. Upon completion of this seminar, students should have a command of the theories, ongoing debates, and open questions that emerge out of political anthropology, and gain an understanding of the interplay between language, emotion, and reason in the unfolding of political processes at interpersonal as well as broader, (trans)national scales. Louis Römer.

Topic for 2017/18b: The State as Anthropological Object. How is “the state” constituted as an object of study for anthropologists? Where is “the state” — with its institutional features, boundaries, functions, and affects — located in social life? If we do not take the state’s monolithic existence for granted, what sorts of knowledge about “the state” as an ensemble of institutions and practices might otherwise be produced? This course examines the development of methodologies for studying and thinking about the state anthropologically. The first part of the course examines how social theorists have conceptualized and problematized the state, including Weber, Gramsci, Foucault, Bourdieu, and others. Through a close engagement with theories of bureaucracy, hegemony, and governmentality, this part of the course considers how certain familiar categories — like civil society, nation-state, sovereignty, etc. – have been attached to understandings of the state. We consider how anthropologists have drawn on critical scholarship (Abrams, Trouillot, Mitchell, Rose) to develop methodologies for re-thinking the relationship between states, transnational institutions, global capitalism, and everyday life. In the second half of the course, we read recent monographs on aspects of the state. These readings touch on issues ranging from bureaucratic regimes of paperwork (Hull), policing (Dutton), conditions of “statelessness” (Conklin), indigenous sovereignty (Simpson), and the national security state (Masco). These readings are guided by the following questions: Where do scholars locate “the state” in their empirical work? What methods and types of inquiries do they employ, and how does “the state” become visible and legible (or not) in their work? Xiaobo Yuan.

 

Prerequisite(s): previous coursework in Anthropology or International Studies, or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.



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