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Syll_all Topic: theories of culture Class Plan:

Fall 2011 Middle East W3000 section 001 THEORIES OF CULTURE: MIDDLE EAST, SOUTH ASIA, AFRICA Tues-Thurs.: 2:10pm-4:00pm Location: 313 Fayerweather Instructor: Gil Anidjar 80 Claremont, Room 207 ga152@columbia.edu Office Hours: Wed. 3-5, or by appointment Teaching Assistants: Leila Abady, Veli Yasin

What is "culture"? Is culture everything ("world culture") or nothing ("the illusion of ideology"). Is it the property of a small group, whether powerful ("elite culture") or marginal ("gay culture"). Is "culture" what "we" have and "they" - presumably, the barbarians - don't? And how many cultures are there? Since when is the word used in the plural? Or used at all? And does everybody have their own culture? What does it mean that there are "culture wars"? Does it mean that culture is violent? Important? Or that it is a diversion? A screen? And from what? For what? But why all these questions? Who, after all, does not know what is culture? Who is it that does not belong to, or have, culture? Why "theories of culture"? The growing multiplicity, plurality of cultures and of ways of thinking about culture is quite extensive and though we will read much, the answers will be few, or at least fewer than they should. We will get a sense of how culture acquired the importance it now has, who claims to know about it, and some of what there is to knowif not appreciate or taste. We will not become more cultivated. We will rather think about culture from the outside looking in, focusing on general perspectives, from the historical to the sociological, from the anthropological to the psychological, from the political to the sexual, and more. Course Requirements Attendance to lectures and discussion (1/3 of grade) (one discussion section per week -- see Teaching Assistants) Mid-Term Exam (1/3 of final grade) Final Exam (1/3 of final grade)

Required Readings (books available at Book Culture) [additional readings are available for download on courseworks]

Norbert Elias, Civilizing Process Raymond Williams, Culture and Society Donna Haraway, Primate Visions Edward Said, Orientalism Sven Lindqvist, A History of Bombing Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought Nadia Abu El-Haj, Facts on the Ground Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety Bill Readings, The University in Ruins

SYLLABUS Week 1 Sept 6-8 Introduction Week 2 Sept 13-15 What Culture? Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" Pollock, "The Death of Sanskrit," Tim Mitchell, "Carbon Democracy" Week 3 Sept 20-22 Culture and Civilization Norbert Elias, Civilizing Process Week 4 Sept 27-29 Culture and class Williams, Culture and Society Week 5 Oct 4-6 The Science of Culture Haraway, Primate Visions Week 6 Oct 11-13 The Problem with Culture Said, Orientalism Week 7 Oct 18-20 The Civilizing Mission Lindqvist, History of Bombing; Benjamin, "The Work of Art," "Theses on the Philosophy of History" Week 8 Oct 25-27 Religion and Culture Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms; Geertz, "Religion as a System of Meaning"

MIDTERM Week 9 Nov 1-3 Culture and Gender Mahmood, Politics of Piety; Joan Scott, "Gender as a Category," Massad (intro to Desiring Arabs) Week 10 Nov 8 NO CLASS Nov 10 Culture and Colonialism Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought; Kaviraj on the state Week 11 Nov 15-17 Culture and Colonialism 2 Mitchell, Colonizing Egypt Week 12 Nov 22 National Culture Abu El-Haj, Facts on the Ground Nov 24 THANKSGIVING Week 13 Nov 29-Dec 1 Legal Culture Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers

Week 14 Dec 6-8 Conclusion: The University's Culture Reading, The University in Ruins