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Theory in Anthropology: Anthropology and the Modern Media

Fall 2022
Section: 01  
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

This course considers the relations among symbolic representations, modern media, and social practices of imagination. Taking the Durkheimian theory of collective representation as a point of departure, we will first look at the role of rituals and myths in oral cultures, with emphasis on the notion that human beings add to the world through representation and inhabit the worlds they imagine. We will go on to interrogate the ways in which the formation of media industries in capitalist societies has transformed the role of imagination in social life, both within and beyond the societies where those industries emerged. Cultural forms may have always had extrinsic as well as intrinsic origins, but in a world where the products of large, centralized media industries circulate nationally and globally, the resources of imagination increasingly come from outside of local communities, from urban centers and other nations. The consequences of such national and global flows, however, are neither uniform nor predictable, as images and narratives are locally received and negotiated. In exploring the relations between media production and reception, we will look at critical theories of media in Euro-American societies, as well as ethnographic studies of the reception of Western media forms in other parts of the world, the role of media from both the host country and the home country in immigration, and the production of indigenous media. Methodologically, we will consider the relationship between anthropology and the interdisciplinary fields of cultural and media studies.

Class readings and discussions will be organized around topics such as media technologies and modern societies, the role of the media in the transformation of time and space, media and modern subjectivities, broadcasting and national identities, the organization of particular mediascapes, taste, identity, and popular media, mediated citizenship, media and cosmopolitanism, movie-going as public experience, the formation of hybrid identities through media consumption, soap opera, melodrama, and gendered subjects.

Readings by Emile Durkheim, Claude LÚvi-Strauss, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Pierre Bourdieu, Marshall Sahlins, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, John Thompson, John Frow, Arjun Appadurai; as well as ethnographic studies of media consumption and production by Brian Larkin, Lila Abu-Lughod, Faye Ginsberg, Sunaina Maira, Purnima Mankekar, and others.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS ANTH
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ANTH)(CSCT)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on JUN-12-2024
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