“Anthropology needs its own anthropology if it is to be more than a mere epiphenomenon of larger societal processes.”– Jonathan Friedman
Course description from the Graduate Calendar & Dept. Website:
ANTH 630 – This course, the content of which changes from year to year, explores emergent concepts, methods and topics in anthropology.
A second phase of anthropological research has continued, extended, and somewhat revised the process unleashed by the North American “decolonizing anthropology” school of the late 1960s, which was further stimulated by the “new cultural anthropology” of the 1980s, by Indigenous critiques of anthropology, and by the internal theoretical debates brought on by encounters with “globalization”. These particular new directions unfolded within North American and western European schools of anthropology.
The anthropological study of anthropology has become a research area in its own right, and one that is particularly productive for teaching us a great deal about the dominant Euro-American cultural configuration, how it was constructed, upheld, and acquired power. We are moving beyond concerns with individual “reflexivity,” and moving in the direction described by Pierre Bourdieu as “participant objectivation,” as this seminar turns our critical attention toward our own academic practice as anthropologists within specific institutional contexts and within an overarching political economy of Euro-American dominance. This seminar’s intention is to help cultivate a critical awareness of the institutional matrices in which North American (and European) anthropologists work, and how certain concepts, theories, topics, and modes of doing research come to be taken for granted and are upheld as important, normal and conventional, at different times. It is not intended as an exercise in jettisoning anthropology, or academia, but to better understand our constraints, limits, and to hopefully broaden the horizon of what is deemed possible.
Stated simply, the objective of this seminar is to examine the social conditions of knowledge production in Anglo-American anthropology, the political economy of professionalization and institutionalization, and the historical processes through which these unfolded. We also study how certain national traditions develop and exercise hegemony on an international plane. To do this, we study a series of historical, ethnographic and sociological texts on the politics of knowledge, which we can treat as important primary documents in their own right since they have been produced by practitioners inside of the very structures they study.
This seminar aspires to envision different modes of anthropology, and to ask what series of transformations may get us closer to that objective. In an effort to examine anthropology as if from outside the discipline, as somewhat alienated insiders, speaking and writing of it without being compelled by a vested interest in the discipline, we are doing anthropology. More on this will follow below.
The more immediate and basic focus is in trying to appreciate and grapple with—as in a meeting of minds, a dialogue—a series of more-or-less recent texts which in their own individual ways contribute to either the anthropological study of anthropology, or that take anthropology in different directions.
Also note that the readings required for the current semester in which this seminar is offered, are shown and listed down the side of the page at the right.