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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Magic, Science and Healing (PGSP11185)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionDrawing on insights from anthropology and science studies the course will consider the following debates: is it possible to distinguish between rationality and belief? How can magic and science be political? Why has the occult persisted in modern society, and why is it that science enchants? It will use ethnographies of witchcraft and sorcery, scientific laboratories, anatomy and immunology, and colonial science to engage with these debates.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, students will be critically engaged with debates pertaining to the anthropology of magic and the anthropology of science. They should be able to apply these ideas to think about different systems of healing. In particular they will be expected to:
- Familiarise themselves with the history of anthropological thinking about science and magic
- Appraise the contribution that science studies have made to theory in anthropology
- Critique the role that epistemological claims play in our understanding of science and magic as ways of knowing and believing.
Assessment Information
One 4000 word essay.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Not entered
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Bailey, M.D. 2006. The meanings of magic. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 1(1): 1-23.

Briggs, C.L. 2004. Theorizing modernity conspirationally: science, scale, and the political economy of public discourse in explanations of a cholera epidemic. American Ethnologist 31(2): 164-187.

Cerulo, Karen A. 2009. Nonhumans in social interaction. Annual Review of Sociology 35: 531-552.

Chen, Nancy N. 2003. Healing sects and anti-cult campaigns. The China Quarterly 174: 505-520.

Das, Veena & Das, Ranendra K. 2005. Urban health and pharmaceutical consumption in Delhi, India. Journal of Biosocial Science 38(1): 69-82.

Geissler, P.W. 2005. 'Kachinja are coming!': encounters around a medical research project in a Kenyan village. Africa 75: 173-202.

Halliburton, M. 2005. 'Just some spirits': the erosion of spirit possession and the rise of 'tension' in South India. Medical Anthropology 24: 111-144.

Kamat, V. 2001. Private practitioners and the role in the resurgence of malaria in Mumbai (Bombay) and Navi Mumbai (New Bombay), India: serving the affected or a new epidemic? Social Science & Medicine 52: 885-909.

Lowe, Celia. 2010. Viral clouds: becoming H5N1 in Indonesia. Cultural Anthropology 25(4): 625-649.

van der Geest, S. 2005. 'Sacraments in the hospital': exploring the magic and religion of recovery. Anthropology & Medicine 12(2): 135-150.

Sax, William S. 2008. God of Justice: Ritual Healing and Social Justice in the Central Himalayas. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapters 7.

Thompson, Jennifer Jo, Ritenbaugh, Cheryl, & Nichter, Mark. 2009. Reconsidering the placebo response from a broad anthropological perspective. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 33: 112-152.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern There is one two hour session a week for the whole class. The first hour will include a whole-class lecture; the second hour will be devoted to group work. Each week everyone is expected to have read the material listed under the heading for class discussion. In the first meeting we will assign groups (or pairs) and then from weeks 3-10 one group will take responsibility for running the second half of the class. You will be expected to prepare a short presentation (5 minutes maximum), and plan in advance how you will lead the discussion. Class discussion plans should be emailed to me ( no later than 12 noon the day before the class.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Stefan Ecks
Tel: (0131 6)50 6969
Course secretaryMrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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