Postgraduate Course: Humans and Other Species (PGSP11376)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||What happens when we humans draw distinctions between ourselves and other living species? In this course we will examine the place that other forms of life: animals, plants, microbes - occupy in human worlds. Historically anthropologists have been interested in animals, because we can use our understanding of them to work out what is distinctive about humans, or, because as Levi-Strauss famously wrote, they are 'good to think with'. More recently, anthropologists have begun to challenge the separation drawn between human and non-human forms of life, and ask about the biopolitical consequences of scientific practices such as taxonomy and botany. Scholars in this field argue that the boundaries drawn up between species create hierarchies and inequalities, and that breaking down species distinctions reveals the extent to which our human and nonhuman lives are deeply imbricated in socioeconomic projects. More radically, some argue that we should abandon our anthropocentric views of the world in favour of an approach that recognizes the agency of other species. Alternatively, anthropologists of the non-western world are able to describe alternative modes of being that do not distinguish between humans and other species in the same way that we do.
In this course we will examine these debates by exploring topics such as domestication and pets; the parallels between breeding and kinship; animals, plants and microbes as scientific objects; zoonoses and pests; animal rights; extinction; the environment; non human ways of being; and the place of mythical creatures and monsters.
Week One: Introduction: Taxonomies (RM)
Week Two: Pets and Domestic Animals (RM)
Week Three: Animal Symbols (SM)
Week Four: Pests and Bugs (RM)
Week Five: Mythical Creatures and Monsters (RM)
Week Six: Life Sciences (RM)
Week Seven: Being in the World with Animals (RM)
Week Eight: Animal Rights (SM)
Week Nine: Interspecies Ethnography (RM)
Week Ten: Environment, Protection, Extinction (BG)
Week Eleven: Essay Writing Clinic (RM)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
| By the end of the course the students should have extensive and specialist knowledge of the place that nonhuman species: animals, plants, microbes - occupy in human worlds, and the role that our efforts to distinguish ourselves from other species plays in shaping our worlds. They should be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of theories at the forefront of debates about the relationships that humans have with nonhuman life. Students should be able to evaluate influential anthropological analyses of nonhuman forms of life - from structuralist and symbolic, political economic approaches, to more recent emphases on interspecies relations, anti-anthropocentrism, ontology and perspectivism. They will be able to apply their knowledge by critically analysing case studies in theoretical essays, and in postgraduate seminars, that will develop their ability to identify problems and issues in this rapidly moving field of anthropology.
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Fudge, E. 2002. Animal: Reaktion Books.
Hurn, S. 2012. Humans and Other Animals: Human-Animal Interactions in Cross Cultural Perspective. London: Pluto Press.
Brightman, R. 1993. Grateful Prey: Rock Cree Human-Animal Relationships. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Cassidy, R. 2007. Horse people: thoroughbred culture in Lexington and Newmarket. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Gilmore, D.D. 2009. Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors: University of Pennsylvania Press.
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Pratten, D. 2007. The Man-Leopard Murders: History and Society in Colonial Nigeria. . Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Raffles, H. 2010. Insectopedia. New York: Pantheon.
Ritvo, H. 1997. The platypus and the mermaid, and other figments of the classifying imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Singer, P. 2001 (1975). Animal Liberation. New York: Ecco.
Van Sittert, L. & S. Swart. 2007. Canis Africanis: A Dog History of South Africa. Leiden, NL: Brill.
Vitebsky, P. 2005. Reindeer people: living with animals and spirits in Siberia. London: Harper Collins.
Willis, R. 1974. Man and Beast. New York: Basic Books.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Rebecca Marsland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3864
|Course secretary||Mr Fraser Maxwell
Tel: (0131 6)51 1183