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

Postgraduate Course: The Invention of History (SCAN11008)

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
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 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 social construction of the past, it looks at how the past it 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 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 space, place and landscape. 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, heritage sites, 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-evilness; nationalism and identity; memory and forgetting; commemoration and memorials; heritage and museums; landscape and place.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
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 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The total course mark is determined by two pieces of assessed work: a short essay, or formative assessment, which makes up 20% of the final mark, and a long essay, or summative assessment, which makes up the other 80% of the final mark.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. show an understanding of how the past is imagined, constructed and contested through the processes of history, memory and commemoration
  2. show recognition of the role that ideas and knowledge of the past play in the complex politics of identity and state-making, in colonial, postcolonial and nationalist contexts
  3. show 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. show 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 secretaryMs Jessica Barton
Tel: (0131 6)51 5066
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