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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

 Course description:
This course seeks to explore how human beings inhabit and interact with their lived world – how
they are shaped by it and in turn shape the multiple forces, flows and relations that constitute their
reality. What insights do we glean from putting the lived experience of people at the center of
theoretical inquiry? What do the everyday practices and experiences of people have to say about
theories of state, gender, politics or economics?
As a discipline cultural anthropology has its roots in the colonial encounter when the desire to
‘know the colonized Other’ gave birth to a cadre of ‘ethnographers’ who ventured into the hearts
of Africa and India and other colonized societies in order to study in detail the strange and
‘primitive’ societies which they now ruled over. This course will invite students to critically engage
with the politics of representation by studying it’s colonial heritage. Recent trends however, have
tried to move beyond this fascination with the ‘traditional’ and ‘non-modern’ societies. Burgeoning
fields such as the anthropology of science and science and technology studies have inverted the
lens, putting the so- called ‘modern’ at the center of the inquiry, indeed calling into question the
very divide between modern/traditional itself. Thus we will also explore the radical and creative
potential of anthropology today.

 Course objectives:

1) To familiarize students with the dominant theoretical and methodological debates in the field of
cultural anthropology.
2) To equip students with basic conceptual skills needed to trace the myriad relations that constitute
their own individual and social contexts.
3) To develop an understanding about how concepts such as caste, colonialism, gender, space, state,
class and the urban operate in empirical reality.
4) To introduce the students to some of the complex ethical issues that are part and parcel of the
research process.

 Key terms: reflexivity – cultural relativism – positivism – representation – functionalism –
culture – genealogy

 Grading instruments:

30% Take home assignments (2)
40% Fieldwork (weekly reflection notes + meetings)
30% Final presentation

fisherfolk. Ethnocentricism Week 4 and 5: Economy Marx: Value – Property – Class Eriksen: Class (Social Capital etc) Movie: The Take Week 6: Globalization and Work Movie: The Economy of Happyness Lecture 10: Siddharta Debb: The Beautiful and the Damned Week 7 & 8: Gender Lecture 11: Frances E May Lecture 12: Partha Chatterjee Lecture 13: Film: 5 Broken Cameras Week 9: Minorities Film: La Haine Guardian article . gypsies. The way America can be made to seem ‘exotic’ and ‘backward’ by the way we talk and think about them. villages and ‘rural areas’. certain areas (Balochistan). Who do we ‘other-ise’ in Pakistan? Women. Lecture 4: Walking with Comrades Concepts: Representation and power Week 3: Lecture 5: Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche ‘The dangers of a single story’ Concepts: Representation and power. Lead them through the ways bhil tribe are sophisticated and their knowledge system. Africa Week 2: Lecture 3: Bhil tribe video Purpose: introducing the idea of ‘ethnocentricism’ and ‘representation’.Week 1: Introduction Lecture 1: Introduction Lecture 2: Brief history Reading: Nacirema + Bhil tribe Purpose: Introducing concept of ‘exotic’ ‘underdeveloped’ ‘primitive’ ‘Other’.

Week 10&11: Ethnicity Eriksen Chapter Oscar Verkaik: MQM Karachi Week 12 &13 : Presentation .