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Social and Economic Anthropology

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс обязательный
Когда читается:
2-й курс, 3 модуль


Course Syllabus


It is an introductory course in social and cultural anthropology. The aim of this course is to familiarize students in sociology with anthropology as a specific paradigm of research and a particular genre of writing in social and historical sciences. By the end of the course, the students will be equipped with the most basic anthropological analytical resources, skills and visions that can be useful in social study of both contemporary and historical social life. The course is subdivided into two blocks. First part is dedicated to the history of emergence of anthropology as the knowledge of the Other. In this part, the goal is to interiorize the key concepts and the specifics of anthropological optic, and to understand the general logic of development of the discipline’s theory and methods. Second part is an introduction to some classical themes and topics that continue to be productive for anthropologists working in every part of the world. We shall explore the ways in which the insights and debates originating in very specific and localized contexts, can contribute to our understanding of humanity as a whole, and vice versa. The course is especially useful for those who intend to specialize in qualitative, theoretically inspired and empirically grounded research.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Providing students with the basic theories and paradigms used by transnational, contemporary academic anthropologists (as exemplified by the international top-10 journals in the discipline)
  • Teaching students to use basic methods and analytical tools specific to the anthropology as a discipline, with special attention to their difference and complementarity to those in sociology.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Know the historical development of the field of anthropology
  • Know the main frameworks and optics of anthropological analysis
  • Be able to apply anthropological analysis for studying any aspect of social life
  • Be able to discern the advantages and disadvantages of anthropological optic
  • to see the problems of contemporary life in their anthropological interconnectedness, in cultural and historical contexts
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Anthropology: Key concepts
    Anthropology and colonialism. Meeting the Other. Comparison: sameness and difference. The problem of human universals. Focus on difference. Cultural relativism. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. “Translation”. Attempts/claims to de-ideologize (decolonize) knowledge. Anthropology and philosophy. Anthropology and sociology. The notion of Culture. Culture and Society. Community and Society. Playing the scale. Empiricism. Anthropology and history. Franz Boas: historical particularism. Context. Holism. Anthropology and psychology. Personhood. Egocentric, sociocentric and relational personhoods. Cartesian subject. Historical change in the Western personhood? Methods of studying personhood.
  • Methods
    Fieldwork (“data collection”) vs. analysis (“theory”). What is the relationship? Ethnography vs. anthropology. Informant’s and anthropologist’s point of view (Malinowski and Radcliff-Brown controversy): how to find the balance? Emic and etic knowledge. Epistemological status of native theories. “Ethnographic theory”. Quantitative and qualitative studies. Induction vs. Deduction. Participant observation. Positionality. Studying up and down. Fieldwork in the village and in the city. Native anthropologist: working in one’s own milieu. Blindness to familiar. “Going native”. The role of text in anthropological work. Poetics and politics of ethnographic text. The problem of representation. The problem of the ethnographic present. Ethnocentrism. Naïve realism. Visual anthropology. How does one develop ethnographic imagination? The problem of “native” reflexivity. Ideal and actual beliefs. Explicit and tacit knowledge. Doxa. Objectified and procedural knowledge. Anthropology – art, or science? Examples of anthropological works: theme, theory and geographical/area specializations. Fieldwork politics: anthropologist as a spy. The controversy of anthropologists employed by US army in the Middle East.
  • Theoretical paradigms
    “Biopsychological” functionalism: Bronislaw Malinowski. Culture and personality school: Ruth Benedict. Structuralism: Claude Levy-Strauss. Interpretivism: Clifford Geertz. Fredrik Barth: interactionism. Cultural history. Culture vs Society. Mind vs Matter. Harmony vs. Conflict. Structure vs Agency. People vs Objects. A question of balance?
  • Reciprocity
    Malinowski: Kula Ring. Mauss: “The gift”. Kula and Potlach. Social temporalities of gift and barter. Is gift exchange an anthropological prototype of all social relations? How value is created in human societies, and societies are created through value exchange? Polanyi: reciprocity, redistribution and “market”. Reciprocity and social distance. Sahlins: generalized, balanced and negative forms of reciprocity. “Rational economic actor” and Chayanov’s rule. Wiener: inalienable possessions. Metaphysics of the gift. The enigma of the gift’s “Hau”. Bohannan: segregation of exchange among Tiv. Commodification of social relations. The power of money to transform social relations. Gift exchange in contemporary anthropology and economics. Market relations, “informal economy”, and “corruption”. Moral economy. Regimes of value. The social life of things. Reciprocity and political critique. Traffic in human organs, Nancy Scheper-Hughes.
  • Kinship
    Is kinship a basic principle/prototype of social and political organization (i.e.power)? Social and biological dimensions of kinship. The Virgin Birth Debate. Sanguinity and affinity. Descent and alliance. Women as “super-gifts”. Kinship and/as political organization. Early anthropology of kinship. Evans- Pritchard: The Nuer. Segmentary oppositions. Lineage, clan and tribe. Family organization. Monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, polygyny. Levirate and sororate. Clifford Geertz, “Life without husbands or fathers”. Localization of marriage. Family as structure and agency. Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of matrimonial strategies. The theory of practice. Kinship studies and new biotechnologies. The crisis of nuclear family.
  • Nature, “nature” and nature(s)
    What is “nature”? Three “natures” in anthropology. “Internal” nature. Genes. Debates on race, aggression, and “sociality.” Body. Symbolism of the body. Body concepts in Hinduism. Body map as a method of data collection. Embodiment. Marcel Mauss. Techniques of the body. Pierre Bourdieu. Habitus. Foucault. Body politics. Social construction of emotions. Renato and Michelle Rosaldo. Politics of emotion. Social construction of senses. David Howes. Ethnography of the senses vs sensory ethnography. “External” nature. Cultural and political ecology. Roy Rappaport. Leslie White. Tim Ingold. Nature as a particular Western construct. “Naturalising” as a (Western) mode of power. Single culture, multiple natures in the Amazonian worlds of De Castro.
  • Rationality
    Different views on the religion as phenomenon. Sacred and profane. Magic vs. religion vs. science. “Religion”, “paganism” and “superstition”. Natural, or supernatural? The living and the dead: the logic of ancestral cults. Emic classifications. Mary Douglas. Purity and danger. Taboo. Classification anomalies. Religion and magic as part to social process. Azande: magic as rationality in context. Magic as law and epistemology. Occultism in contemporary Africa. Claude Levy-Strauss. Totemism. “Savage mind”. Concrete and abstract thinking. Technologies and rationality. STS-studies and anthropology.
  • Ritual and performative actions
    Public symbolic action. Types of ritual. Emile Durkheim. Ritual as a mirror for society. Don Handelman. Models, presentations and re-presentations. Collective effervescence. Ritual as optics. Performativity. Speech acts. The problem of “belief” in ritual. Symbolic anthropology. Rites of passage. Victor Turner. Initiations and funerals: tripartite structure of ritual. Structure and anti-structure. Liminality and Communitas. Poetics and politics of transgression. Tricksters and sacred clowns. Secular ritual and civil religions. Rituals in science? Ritual in/and contemporary capitalism.
  • Identification
    Construction of cultural and social boundaries. Culture vs. ethnicity. Identity and the process of identification. “Tools” for identity. Categories and groups. Primary identities: human and gender. Simmel’s rule. Security vs. freedom. Fredrik Barth. Identity as “content” and “boundary”. Benedict Anderson. Imagined community. Invention of tradition. Nationalism. Creolization, syncretism, hybridity.
  • Globalization and complexity of the world
    “Traditional” and “modern” societies? Arjun Appadurai: “modernity at large”. Modernization, industrialization and urbanization in Africa: from “people with cows” to “people in costumes”. Indigenization of modernity. Ethnicity as a commodity. Tourism, anthropology and brands and fakes, and “the bluff of modernity”. Imitation in anthropological discourse on globalization and modernization. Cargo cults. Mimesis and alterity. “Mad masters” and “Cannibal tours” controversies.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Essay
    Essays: all students have to write a 1500-2500 words essays. You have three choices: an analytical research essay, a cultural text essay, and an actual case essay. Look at "Example" Section to see all requirements.
  • non-blocking Final exam
    Exam will consist of two sections. First section is a set of 40 multiple choice questions; second offers 4 open test questions out of which 2 questions of student’s choice must be answered. The answers have to be concise. Do not write a composition on the topic – stick to the point. Draft your answer before transferring a clear version to the exam sheet. Keep your handwriting readable (if we fail to read it, it will not count). We expect that this answer will be between 3 and 8 sentences, depending on your writing and thinking styles. Both sections will cover topics from lectures, course readings, and class discussions.
  • non-blocking Midterm exam
    Each fully and correctly answered multiple choice question is worth 1 point; otherwise, 0 points. Exam will consist of two sections. First section is a set of 6 multiple choice questions; second offers 4 open test questions out of which 2 questions of student’s choice must be answered. Both sections will cover topics from lectures, course readings, and class discussions.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.3 * Essay + 0.5 * Final exam + 0.2 * Midterm exam


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bourgois, P. I., & Schonberg, J. (2009). Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=407430
  • Eriksen, T. H. (2015). Small Places, Large Issues - Fourth Edition : An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (Vol. 4th ed). London: Pluto Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1057037

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Buriticá López, I. C., & Kulick, D. (2008). Travesti: sex, gender and culture among brazilian transgendered prostitutes. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.93D56AE5
  • Patico, J. (2009). For Love, Money, or Normalcy: Meanings of Strategy and Sentiment in the Russian-American Matchmaking Industry. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 74(3), 307–330. https://doi.org/10.1080/00141840903053097