1. OVERVIEW OF ANTH 7001 SEMINAR
The seminars deal with a selected number of theoretical, methodological and interpretative issues that are currently being debated by anthropologists. These issues will vary from unit to unit according to contemporary developments in anthropology and the interests of the course convenor, and in terms of how current concerns in the discipline link to the theoretical issues addressed by students at undergraduate level. Others may be more enduring, such as the theoretical issues related to the ‘writing culture’ debate, ‘orientalism’ and the problem of the ‘other’, cultural relativism, politics and power, and the relation between individual and society.
This year the ANTH 7001 seminar will focus on the last of these ‘enduring’ issues, examining the ways that different writers have conceptualized and theorized the creation of culture by subjects as well as the creation of subjects by culture, or what might usefully be described as the mutual co-constitution by cultured subjects (ethnics) and society of each other. The works of Bourdieu, Jackson, Castoriadis, and Rapport etc. focus on different aspects of this relationship: on social reproduction and domination; on the creation of subjectivity through intercultural and inter-subjective encounter; on the self-institution of society; and on the individual as creator of their world beyond their conditioning by pre-existing cultural frameworks. The seminar readings and discussion are designed so that your reading and reflection feeds into your fieldwork/thesis, both as aid to facilitate its completion, and as grit to problematize your thinking.
Although our seminar authors would not unanimously agree, it might be useful for students to think of anthropology as the study of the production of meaning, including of those meanings produced by anthropologists themselves. This includes ethnographies of course, but also social theories. Ultimately, the producers of meanings are people: however people also create powerful institutions, practices, religions, places, social relations, histories (stories) and technologies that in their own domains are similarly manufacturers of meaning. Like the sorcerer’s apprentice, we are not in control of our own makings, nor obviously of the creations of others: we wrestle with them and the new worlds these creations themselves produce; we seek to speak back to them even as they speak through us; we give our allegiance to their take on the world while insisting, petulantly, upon our own personal emphases. Imitation or mimicry may flatter, attesting to the power of cultural and symbolic systems. But flattery is also a strategy. The anthropologist’s gleaning of meaning is necessarily a reflexive and political process: how does the ethnographer represent and position him or herself as the interpreter of other peoples’ meanings, even as s/he is transformed through the very interpretive encounter?
The ANTH 7001 Convenor in 2021 is Christopher Houston. I am available on extension 8471 and my email address is email@example.com. Please contact me about problems of any nature that affects your studies this year.
2. ANTHROPOLOGY COLLOQUIUM
This semester the Colloquium is held regularly on Wednesday morning at 10.30am and involves a wide range of speakers, including staff and postgraduates of the Department and visitors from other universities. Some sessions may be held on Zoom. Attendance provides MRes students with the opportunity to listen to and engage in debate with working anthropologists.
1. ESSAY (60%)
This essay is required to be approximately 4,000 words in length. The essay should relate, compare and critically assess the work of two or more of the authors to the major themes of the unit – cultural creativity, agency (agents), structures and world-making. In your essay, critically focus on where the authors identify sources of creativity or change, and how the texts articulate society and the individual – or in what terms. This essay is due in Week 13. One copy must be uploaded through TURNITIN on this date.
2. SEMINAR PARTICIPATION (25%)
ANTH 7001 class seminars will run from the first week of the second semester (July 27th) until the 6th of November. The seminar will be devoted to a discussion of course readings, but we will consider essay and thesis research strategies as well. Students are expected to read the set readings and to participate in discussion.
Equally importantly, to facilitate tutorial discussion, non-presenting students are required to submit a one-page response to the readings each week, structured according to the three ‘Is’ – Insight, Interest, and Incomprehension. Find in the article what you thought was the author’s main insight; discuss something of particular interest to you; and puzzle out why something seemed confusing or even incomprehensible that you would like to discuss in the class. Responses can only be submitted at the seminar in which the reading is to be discussed. The seminar mark will be awarded on the basis of the written work, as well as on seminar participation.
The seminar is designed to provide a supportive environment in which students can assist each other in discussing their ideas and interpretations of the readings, in conceptualising their essay and in clarifying their thesis topic.
3. SEMINAR PRESENTATION (15%)
Over the duration of the seminar, depending on student numbers, each student will give a brief introduction to the week’s reading(s), drawing out its main themes and selecting a number of questions or puzzles for the seminar to discuss. These introductory remarks are intended merely to get the seminar rolling – students might wish to focus on something interesting, maddening or confusing about the reading for example.