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

Undergraduate Course: Contemporary Issues in Social Anthropology (SCAN10080)

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 course engages with both established and developing contemporary scholarship and debates concerning anthropological approaches to the body.

The course aims to enrich and supplement broader disciplinary studies across medical and political anthropology, as well as scholarship concerned with material culture.
Course description Now more than ever the body and its forms have become entangled in and around debates across a swathe of academic scholarship and current affairs issues of broader public concern. From questions around the biological modification and technological transformation of the individual body to moral quandaries around the movement, disappearance, and substantiation of certain kinds of bodies at particular times and places, concern with the body increasingly saturates public debate and activity. Yet, despite its centrality as an object or subject of focus, the body appears ever more unstable and destabilising a presence.

This course links together established scholarship in the anthropology of the body with debates on the issue of the body as it is relevant to broader social phenomena. The course will touch upon core epistemological debates concerning the body covering, for example, work in the fields of phenomenology, embodiment, and biopolitics. These core issues will be embedded in established and contemporary debates which have surrounded the body as an object and subject constituting and constituted by broader social phenomena. We will discuss for example, the body in death, the body as a focus of the biomedical gaze; and the body as articulated in contemporary and historical political, economic, and creative movements, including for instance in colonial regimes, as an artefact for museum and memorial spaces, and as a commodity marketed for consumption.

Indicative topics:

The phenomenological body
- In what ways could we argue the mind, emotion, and the body are associated?
- How might culture mediate sensory experience?

The body under surveillance
- How is the physical body governed/regulated via surveillance?
- What anxieties surround surveillance of the body, or the absence of surveillance?

The medical body
- How is the body medicalized and what are the connotations of this?
- How is the medicalisation of bodies entangled with and governed by broader social categories?

The dead body
- How and why does the dead body matter in death?
- What do dead bodies do?

The body in the Anthropocene
- How has technology changed the nature of the body and what are the implications for its form and significance?
- What form will future bodies take?
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 2 social science courses (such as Sociology, Politics, Social Policy, Social Anthropology etc) at grade B and above. We will only consider University/College level courses
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of some of the main terminologies and theories in social anthropology
  2. Apply this knowledge by applying theoretical skills and ethnography to make sense of the issue addressed by the course
  3. Critically identify, define, conceptualise and analyse complex anthropological problems and issues
  4. Convey information about contemporary issues in anthropology to informed audiences
  5. Show in depth knowledge of the topic
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students should have strengthened their skills in:
- analysing evidence and using this to develop and support a line of argument,
- bringing anthropological approaches to bear on an issue of contemporary significance

KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMs Laura Major
Tel: (0131 6)51 1329
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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