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Queer/Anthropology: Ethnographic Approaches to Queer Studies

ANTH 398
Spring 2013 not offered
Crosslisting: FGSS 398, AMST 398
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

This advanced seminar is organized around one central question: Can there be a queer anthropology?

Cultural anthropology and queer studies are often posed as oppositional fields, with the debate boiling down to methods/people/social science versus theory/abstractions/the humanities. Some anthropologists accuse queer studies scholars of excessive theoretical abstraction, narrow interest in Western forms of knowledge and power, and elitist, nonpopulist critiques of the political goals or modes of sexuality that "everyday" people desire (e.g., same-sex marriage). Meanwhile, while queer studies scholars take a less overtly hostile stance toward anthropology, they instead borrow its hallmark methodology (participant observation and cultural analysis) while ignoring questions of the politics of representation, the relationships between history and change, and the vexed understandings of culture that produce anthropology's most finely-tuned, sensitive ethnographic texts.

This course asks, Is it possible to resist this disciplinary debate and instead see anthropology and queer studies working productively with and against each other? We will pursue this question through a careful reading of a series of newly published queer ethnographies as well as work within queer studies that takes a more or less ethnographic approach. We will ask, Can a field such as anthropology, a foundationally humanistic field, be queer? Can there be an anti-agentic ethnography--an ethnography without people-as-agents? Or, conversely, can queer studies be coupled with ethnographic methodologies? How might one do an ethnography of queerness?
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS ANTH
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)(ANTH)(CSCT)(FGSS)

Last Updated on JUL-21-2024
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