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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Undergraduate Course: The Invention of History (SCAN10010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe past is ¿everywhere a battlefield of rival attachments¿ ¿ an arena fraught with contestation and dispute. Picking up this cue this course examines the politics of history, memory, and the past. It begins by examining time, and the way in which notions of time and history have been central both to the development of social anthropology as a discipline and to wider, racialised discourses about others in colonial contexts. Engaging with a growing body of anthropological work, and research done in related disciplines, which has emphasised the collective nature of memory, and the social construction of the past, it looks at how the past is understood, experienced, remembered and represented in different ethnographic contexts in the present. Memory, history, and ¿oral traditions¿ will be examined as different but related means of understanding, representing and politicising the past, alongside other, less discursive means of relating to the past, such as through performance, rituals, objects, bodies and landscape. Engaging with more recent arguments that have emphasised the limits to the ¿invention¿ of history, the course will consider how the study of ¿the past¿ inevitably involves not only notions of time and temporality, but also of landscape, space and place, and artefacts, bodies, practice, things and materiality. The politics of the past is in no way limited to how we understand or represent it; it is also finely related to questions of what to do with its materiality ¿ in the form of archaeological remains, ruins and heritage sites, objects and artefacts, bodies and bones, monuments and memorials. With reference to a variety of empirical examples and broader theoretical trends, lectures will explore the politics of the past through the following topics: Time and denial of co-evalness; nationalism and identity; memory and forgetting; commemoration and memorials; heritage and museums; landscape and place; ruins, ruination and affect; artefacts and bones; and kinship, performance and ritual.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Anthropology courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 20% plus long essay of between 3000-3500 words 80%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Gain an understanding of how the past is imagined, constructed and contested through the processes of history, memory and commemoration.
  2. Recognise the role that ideas and knowledge of the past play in the complex politics of identity and state-making, in colonial, postcolonial and nationalist context.
  3. Gain an understanding of how place & space, landscape, objects, bodies and things (in discursive and material ways), can enable and limit the imagination of the past.
  4. Gain an appreciation of the ways in which notions of the past inform, enable, and limit the means through which landscape, objects and heritage are understood, engaged with, and managed; and the way in which struggles over place and the past are both inscribed in and produce or constitute space/place, landscape, ritual and artefacts.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr John Harries
Tel: (0131 6)50 4051
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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