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    Vassar College
  Sep 22, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ASIA 240 - Cultural Localities

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)

(Same as ANTH 240 ) Detailed study of the cultures of people living in a particular area of the world, including their politics, economy, worldview, religion, expressive practices, and historical transformations. Included is a critical assessment of different approaches to the study of culture. Areas covered vary from year to year and may include Europe, Africa, North America, India and the Pacific.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2017/18a: China, Now: Perspectives on Post-Socialist Life. Since the end of the Maoist era and the beginning of “Reform and Opening Up” (beginning in 1978), China has experienced staggering social changes, from transitioning to a market economy to re-entering the global political theater as an increasingly influential superpower. This course surveys how anthropological and sociological scholarship has taken stock of this dynamic time. How has China’s rapid economic and political development been represented in contemporary scholarship? To what extent is the present-day People’s Republic seen as a “post-Socialist” state, and in what ways do socialist and revolutionary legacies of the Maoist era still resonate? Incorporating scholarly monographs and articles, films, and fiction, we examine topics including the history and politics of “Reform and Opening Up”; urbanization, migration, and the division of labor in cities and countryside; shifts in mass consumption and mediated desire; the social reproduction of traditional concepts like “guanxi” and “face”; religion and ethics; and media landscapes in 21st-century China. Students develop a final research paper on a topic of their own choice. Knowledge of Chinese not required.  Xiaobo Yuan. 

Two 75-minute periods.

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