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Theory 1: Anthropology and the Person

ANTH 295
Fall 2012
Section: 01  
This course may be repeated for credit.
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

Theory 1 and Theory 2 are core courses for the major, designed to elucidate historical influences on contemporary anthropological theory. While precise topics may vary from year to year, the overall goal of the courses remains the same: to familiarize students with the main traditions from which the discipline of anthropology emerged and to explore the diverse ways in which contemporary anthropological practice defines itself both with and against them. This semester our topic will be anthropology and the person.

Anthropology has long been haunted by the problem of the person. A central contention of the classic anthropological traditions is that personhood is culturally constructed, which is to say that individuals receive from society/culture the concepts and values through which they understand and experience themselves. While anthropological approaches identified (and arguably exaggerated) differences between societies/cultures with regard to personhood, they discouraged attention to the nature and diversity of personal experiences within them. In the extreme, the person was reduced to a reflex of society/culture, and the private, inner self was seen as an invention of Western societies. But the person in all societies has a social character and is also a willful actor with the capacity to reflect on, criticize, or resist the normative social order. In this course we will read classic works from the French, British, and American anthropological traditions, with a focus on their approach to personhood; we will go on to review and assess selected tendencies in cultural theory and ethnographic writing that take particular selves, including the ethnographer, as sites of anthropological inquiry, foregrounding questions of agency, creativity, reflexivity, power, contestation, and change.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS ANTH
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: ANTH101
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ANTH)(CSCT)(CWRC)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on APR-14-2024
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