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

Postgraduate Course: Humans and Other Species (PGSP11376)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhat 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.
Course description 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)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
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.
Reading List
Core Readings

Cassidy, R. & M. Mullin (eds) 2007. Where the wild things are now. Oxford: Berg.
Fudge, E. 2002. Animal: Reaktion Books.
Hurn, S. 2012. Humans and Other Animals: Human-Animal Interactions in Cross Cultural Perspective. London: Pluto Press.

Other Readings

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.
Descola, P. 1994. In the society of nature: a native ecology in Amazonia (trans.) N. Scott. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dupré, J. 2002. Humans and other animals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Franklin, S. 2007. Dolly mixtures: the remaking of genealogy. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Gilmore, D.D. 2009. Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Haraway, D.J. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Harries, P. 2007. Butterflies and Barbarians: Swiss Missionaries and Systems of Knowledge in South-East Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press.
Ingold, T. 1994. What is an animal? London: Routledge.
Knight, J. 2000. Natural Enemies: People-Wildlife Conflicts in Anthropological Perspective. London: Routledge.
Noske, B. 1997. Beyond boundaries. Humans and Animals: Black Rose Books.
Pollan, M. 2003. The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World. London: Bloomsbury.
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.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Rebecca Marsland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3864
Course secretaryMr Fraser Maxwell
Tel: (0131 6)51 1183
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