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ANTH 2700: Key debates in anthropology

Unit information

Ryan Schram
ANTH 2700: Key debates in anthropology
Semester 1, 2022
Social Sciences Building 410 (A02)

This unit serves as an advanced introduction to anthropology, with a special emphasis on the most important theoretical paradigms and schools of thought within contemporary cultural anthropology. Students will learn the different ways that anthropology has conceived of its main questions about human life and the nature of social forms, and the contributions that anthropology has made to and borrowed from other disciplines and the social sciences in general. We will explore the theoretical explanations that have dominated anthropology through close reading of key arguments and study of ethnographic cases on a variety of topics. Besides giving students the necessary background to understand current research in the field of anthropology, the unit will equip students to appreciate important contrasts in perspective, and to decide for themselves which kinds of social and cultural explanations make sense to them.

Weekly plan

WeekDateTopic Main reading Other reading
1 Feb 21 Two minds
2 Feb 28 Society as mind Bashkow (2006) Hanks (1996)
3 Mar 07 The savage slot Trouillot ([2003b] 2016) Trouillot ([2003a] 2016); Wolf (1984); Gilberthorpe (2007); Stasch (2015)
4 Mar 14 Close encounters Sahlins (1988) Sahlins (1992); Sahlins (1996)
5 Mar 21 Ethnic nations on a global stage J. L. Comaroff and Comaroff (2009) J. Comaroff and Comaroff (1989); J. L. Comaroff and Comaroff (1990); J. L. Comaroff (1987)
6 Mar 28 A world in motion Straight (2002)
7 Apr 04 The politics of time, or What was globalization? Holtzman (2007) Kelly (1998)
8 Apr 11 The politics of scale Gupta and Ferguson (1992); Gupta (1995)Verdery (1999)
B Apr 18 Mandatory school closure in honor of Judeo-Christian festivals
9 Apr 25 Us and them Malkki (1992)
10 May 02 The government of cultures Shah (2007) Appadurai (1998); Appadurai (1990)
11 May 09 How can we decolonize the study of difference? Bamford (2004)
12 May 16 Ontological politics Blaser (2016) Blaser (2013)
13 May 23 Indigenous cosmopolitans de la Cadena (2010) Bessire and Bond (2014)
14 May 30 Reading week
15 Jun 06 Final exams period


DueName LengthWorth
Mar 27 Concept quiz n/a 15%
Apr 10 First essay: Which position does this scholar take? 1500 words30%
May 01 Possible sources for the second essay 300 words 10%
Jun 01 Second essay: Who represents the future of anthropology and why?1500 words30%
weekly Weekly writing assignments 100 ea. 15%

References and further reading

Appadurai, Arjun. 1990. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” Theory, Culture & Society 7 (2-3): 295–310. https://doi.org/10.1177/026327690007002017.

———. 1998. “Dead Certainty: Ethnic Violence in the Era of Globalization.” Development and Change 29 (4): 905–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-7660.00103.

Bamford, Sandra. 2004. “Conceiving Relatedness: Non-Substantial Relations Among the Kamea of Papua New Guinea.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10 (2): 287–306. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2004.00190.x.

Bashkow, Ira. 2006. “The Lightness of Whitemen.” In The Meaning of Whitemen: Race and Modernity in the Orokaiva Cultural World, 64–94+12pp (photographs). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bessire, Lucas, and David Bond. 2014. “Ontological Anthropology and the Deferral of Critique.” American Ethnologist 41 (3): 440–56. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12083.

Blaser, Mario. 2013. “Ontological Conflicts and the Stories of Peoples in Spite of Europe: Toward a Conversation on Political Ontology.” Current Anthropology 54 (5): 547–68. https://doi.org/10.1086/672270.

———. 2016. “Is Another Cosmopolitics Possible?” Cultural Anthropology 31 (4): 545–70. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca31.4.05.

Cadena, Marisol de la. 2010. “Indigenous Cosmopolitics in the Andes: Conceptual Reflections Beyond ‘Politics’.” Cultural Anthropology 25 (2): 334–70. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1360.2010.01061.x.

Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. 1989. “The Colonization of Consciousness in South Africa.” Economy and Society 18 (3): 267–96. https://doi.org/10.1080/03085148900000013.

Comaroff, John L. 1987. “Of Totemism and Ethnicity: Consciousness, Practice and the Signs of Inequality.” Ethnos 52 (3-4): 301–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/00141844.1987.9981348.

Comaroff, John L., and Jean Comaroff. 1990. “Goodly Beasts, Beastly Goods: Cattle and Commodities in a South African Context.” American Ethnologist 17 (2): 195–216. https://www.jstor.org/stable/645076.

———. 2009. “A Tale of Two Ethnicities.” In Ethnicity, Inc., 86–116. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gilberthorpe, Emma. 2007. “Fasu Solidarity: A Case Study of Kin Networks, Land Tenure, and Oil Extraction in Kutubu, Papua New Guinea.” American Anthropologist 109 (1): 101–12. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.2007.109.1.101.

Gupta, Akhil. 1995. “Blurred Boundaries: The Discourse of Corruption, the Culture of Politics, and the Imagined State.” American Ethnologist 22 (2): 375–402. https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.1995.22.2.02a00090.

Gupta, Akhil, and James Ferguson. 1992. “Beyond `Culture’: Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference.” Cultural Anthropology 7 (1): 6–23. https://doi.org/10.1525/can.1992.7.1.02a00030.

Hanks, William F. 1996. “The Language of Saussure.” In Language and Communicative Practices, 21–38. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. https://search.alexanderstreet.com/view/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cdocument%7C1677290?account_id=14757&usage_group_id=95408.

Holtzman, Jon. 2007. “Eating Time: Capitalist History and Pastoralist History Among Samburu Herders in Northern Kenya.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 1 (3): 436–48. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17531050701625391.

Kelly, John. 1998. “Time and the Global: Against the Homogeneous, Empty Communities in Contemporary Social Theory.” Development and Change 29 (4): 839–71. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-7660.00101.

Malkki, Liisa. 1992. “National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity Among Scholars and Refugees.” Cultural Anthropology 7 (1): 24–44. https://doi.org/10.1525/can.1992.7.1.02a00030.

Sahlins, Marshall. 1988. “Cosmologies of Capitalism: The Trans-Pacific Sector of ‘The World System’.” Proceeedings of the British Academy 74: 1–51. https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/74p001.pdf.

———. 1992. “The Economics of Develop-Man in the Pacific.” Res 21: 13–25.

———. 1996. “The Sadness of Sweetness: The Native Anthropology of Western Cosmology.” Current Anthropology 37 (3): 395–428. https://doi.org/10.1086/204503.

Shah, Alpa. 2007. “The Dark Side of Indigeneity?: Indigenous People, Rights and Development in India.” History Compass 5 (6): 1806–32. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1478-0542.2007.00471.x.

Stasch, Rupert. 2015. “How an Egalitarian Polity Structures Tourism and Restructures Itself Around It.” Ethnos 80 (4): 524–47. https://doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2014.942226.

Straight, B. 2002. “From Samburu heirloom to new age artifact: The cross-cultural consumption of Mporo marriage beads.” American Anthropologist 104 (1): 7–21. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.2002.104.1.7.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. (2003a) 2016. “Adieu, Culture: A New Duty Arises.” In Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World, 97–116. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-137-04144-9.

———. (2003b) 2016. “Anthropology and the Savage Slot: The Poetics and Politics of Otherness.” In Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World, 7–28. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-137-04144-9.

Verdery, Katherine. 1999. “Giving proper burial, reconfiguring space and time.” In The political lives of dead bodies: reburial and postsocialist change, 95–112. New York: Columbia University Press.

Wolf, Eric R. 1984. “Culture: Panacea or Problem?” American Antiquity 49 (2): 393–400. http://www.jstor.org/stable/280026.

2700/2022/start.txt · Last modified: 2022/02/03 21:07 by Ryan Schram (admin)