Organizer. Theoretical Foundations. December 14, 2010 - December 14, 2010
Curriculum Innovations ; In the fall of 2010, I redesigned the departmental undergraduate requirement, "Theoretical Foundations." In my course, I sought to introduce advanced undergraduates to some of the key theoretical literatures and debates on which contemporary scholarship in Cultural Anthropology relies. While our work was an attempt to understand the theoretical tenets of the field, it was not bound by its disciplinary limits. Rather, we read widely in social and cultural theory, studying those texts, theorists, and theoretical paradigms that have had the most impact on contemporary scholarship. Our course was divided into two parts. Part One focused solely on foundational theoretical texts from the last century, endeavoring to understand their central arguments and the texts with which they are in conversation. Part Two considered the interface between theory and ethnography of the last two decades, focusing on a set of topics that have been particularly important within the field (e.g. the critique of human rights; medical anthropology; critical studies of science, technology, and media; etc.). Our readings were complemented by collaborative, in class analyses of primary texts (e.g. documentary films, human rights documents, etc.) which exercised student skills in bringing theory to bear on real world contexts. The course aimed to consider the ways that theory is employed in this work to make sense of the daily practices, social formations, and populations that anthropologists study.
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