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

Postgraduate Course: Ethnography of the USA (PGSP11378)

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 descriptionThe USA as an anthropological region is marked by diversity, not simply from the First Nations indigenous inhabitants, but from the settler societies that have been arriving in waves for now over five hundred years. Despite this seemingly fractured and fractious constitution, early sociological writings by authors such as Weber and Alexis de Tocqueville emphasized modes of constructing collective sociality through a host of associations, organizations, and denominations.
This balance of centripetal and centrifugal forces, always tested, has been given particular shocks during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. During that time accelerations in the flow of capital, shifts in the inter- and intra-American circuits of human movement, new technological capacities, and religious revivals and mutations all catalyzed each other, transforming some modes of sociality, while intensifying others. And this concatenation of forces has had effects that have played out well beyond the USA borders.
This course will attempt to trace out the intersections of these phenomena, using the above-mentioned four aspects (capital flows; population movement; technology; and religious change) as unifying thematics to guide the selections from the nine key ethnographic texts that will be covered.
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?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students should have extensive and specialist knowledge of the ethnography of the United States of America, of the current set of debates animating this sub-field, and of the methodology and the evidential and representational conventions found in contemporary American ethnography as a subfield.

Specifically, students will be in a position to discuss four sets of phenomena that are important to contemporary ethnographic discussions of the United States. The first set (1) of phenomenon are changes in economic structure, and particularly the advent of neoliberal political economies on the trans-national scale. The second set (2) are changes to immigration patterns, to internal movement of populations, and to demographics that are all both the effects of, and are also affected by, the economic transformations discussed in (1). The third set (3) are changes in forms and techniques of bio-technological governmentality that simultaneously catalyze and restrain the economic and population changes discussed in (1) and (2). The final set of phenonena that will be considered are (4) changes in the cultural and social constitution of forms of religiosity, which at times function as modes of governmentality of all the forces enumerated above, but which at times may simultaneously operate as forms of resistance or protest to these demographic, macro-economic, and bio-technological changes.

Through participation in course readings, lecture, discussions, exercises and assessment, students will:

A. Gain a substantive knowledge of the four sets of phenomena outlined above, as they are expressed in the current ethnographic literature addressing the United States.

B. Students will also gain a capacity to critique and evaluate the assigned ethnographic material that illustrate these concerns.

C. They will also develop a capacity to critique and evaluate the theoretical resources that anthropologists rely on, both in the specific texts encountered in the course, but also in the wider regional academic discussion.

D. Students will also gain a capacity to themselves identify and discuss other instantiations of the phenomena and concerns enumerated above.

E. Students will also be able to place these phenomena and concerns within the context of other contemporary anthropological debates that take up the same or parallel problematics, so that they will be able to critically evaluate the degree to which, and in what ways, these concerns are either 1) particular to the United States as a region, 2) are particular to the present moment, or 3) are instances of anthropological problematics that may transcend the case and moment at hand.

F. Students will also develop a capacity to work with (in the form of texts and audio-visual recordings) 'raw' ethnographic data from the United States, that is, material either not collected by an ethnographer, or not placed with an ethnographic text in the service of an argument; they will be able to analyze this material in light of the above texts, problematics, and disciplinary discussions. This exercise will prepare them for a capacity to think both ethnographically and critically about the United States as a region, but will also train them to possible produce their own ethnographic texts at a latter stage of their academic development.
Assessment Information
This course will be assessed by a combination of (i) a short essay (word-limit: 1,500) and (ii) a long essay (word-limit: 4,000). The short essay carries a weighting of 20% towards the final overall mark for the course as a whole, and the long essay carries a weighting of 80%.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Week 1 Ethnography of the United States: Its conditions of emergence and chief problematics

Week 2 Territorializing and Deterritorializing Peoples and Capital Part One: Native Americans and Sovereignty

Week 3 Territorializing and Deterritorializing Peoples and Capital, Part Two: Reterritorialized Whiteness

Week 4 Territorializing and Deterritorializing Peoples and Capital, Part Three: Transnational America

Week 5 Territorializing and Deterritorializing Peoples and Capital, Part Four/Technological Management and Crisis, Part One: Local Forms of Global Capital

Week 6 Technological Management and Crisis, Part Two: Security and Risk

Week 7 Technological Management and Crisis, Part Three: Life as an object

Week 8 Technological Management and Crisis: Technologies of Addiction

Week 9 Religious Mutations and Intensification

Week 10 Coda: Affect, Intensity, and Atmospheric
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list WEEK 1:

Main Readings:
Di Leonardo, Micaela. 1998. "Hidden In Plain Sight," in Exotics At Home: Anthropologies, Others, American Modernity. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-24
Marcus, George. 1999. "How Anthropological Curiosity Consumes Its Own Place Of Origins." Cultural Anthropology 14(3):416-422.
Miner, Horace. 1956. "Body Ritual Among the Nacerima." American Anthropologist 58(3):503¿7.

Main Readings:
Cattelino, Jessica. 2008. High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming And Sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press, Chapters 1, 2, 4, & 5.
Clifford, James. 1988. "Identity in Mashpee" in The predicament of culture: twentieth-century ethnography, literature, and art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, pp. 277-346.

Main Reading:
Hartigan, John Jr. 2000. "Remembering White Detroit: Whiteness in the Mix of History and Memory" City and Society 12(2):11-34.
Stewart, Kathleen. 1996. A space on the side of the road: cultural poetics in an "other" America, Chapters 2 & 5.
Benson, Peter. 2012. Tobacco capitalism: growers, migrant workers, and the changing face of a global industry. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, Introduction, Chapters 4, 6.

Main Reading:
Pedersen, David. 2013. American value: migrants, money, and meaning in El Salvador and the United States. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, Introduction, Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, Conclusion.

WEEK 5: Territorializing and Deterritorializing Peoples and Capital, Part Four/Technological Management and Crisis, Part One: Local Forms of Global Capital
Main Reading
Ho, Karen. 2005. Situating Global Capitalisms: A View from Wall Street Investment Banks. Cultural Anthropology 20(1):68-96.
Zaloom, Caitlin. 2006. "Markets and Machines: Work in the Technological Sensoryscapes of Finance," American Quarterly 58(3): 815-837.
Zaloom, Caitlin. 2004. "The Productive Life of Risk," Cultural Anthropology 19(3): 365-391,
Zaloom, Caitlin. 2003. "Ambiguous Numbers: Trading Technologies and Interpretation in financial markets." American Ethnologist 30(2): 258-272

Main Readings:
Masco, Joesph (2006) The nuclear borderlands: the Manhattan Project in post-Cold War New Mexico. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, Chapters 2, 3, 4 & 5.

Main Readings:
Wolf-Meyer, Matthew. 2008. "Sleep, Signification and the Abstract Body of Allopathic Medicine." Body & Society 14(1): 93
Wolf-Meyer, Matthew. 2009. "Precipitating Pharmakologies and Capital Entrapments: Narcolepsy and the Strange Cases of Provigil and Xyrem." Medical Anthropology 28(1):11-30.
Wolf-Meyer, Matthew. 2009. "Fantasies of Extremes: Sports, War and the Science of Sleep." BioSocieties 4(2-3):257-271.

Main Readings:
Schüll, Nina Dow. 2012. Addiction by design: machine gambling in Las Vegas. Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, Intro, Chapters 1, 2, "the rat people," 5, 6

Main Readings:
Bielo, James. 2011. "Purity, danger, and redemption: Notes on Urban Missional Evangelicals" American Ethnologist 38(2): 267-280.
Elisha, Omri. 2008. "Moral Ambitions of Grace: The Paradox of Compassion and Accountability in Evangelical Faith-Based Activism." Cultural Anthropology 23(1):154-189.
Erzen, Tanya. 2006. Straight to Jesus: sexual and Christian conversions in the ex-gay movement. Berkeley: University of California Press, Chapters 2, 3, Conclusion.
Harding, Susan. 2000. "The Moral Majority Jeremiad." In The book of Jerry Falwell: fundamentalist language and politics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, pp. 158-182

WEEK 10:
Main Readings:
Stewart, Kathleen (2007) Ordinary Affects. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Dimitri Tsintjilonis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3934
Course secretaryMs Jessica Barton
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659
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