Undergraduate Course: Humans and Other Species (SCAN10057)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Why do human relations with other forms of life matter? In this course we will examine the place that other forms of life - animals, plants, insects and microbes - occupy in human worlds. We will discuss how multispecies anthropology is shaping scholarship in social anthropology in general and in medical anthropology in particular. Is it possible for anthropologists to take a 'non-anthropocentric' perspective in their work, or can this be no more than a thought-experiment?
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 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 in human relationships with other species.
In this course we will examine these debates by exploring topics such as domestication and pets; livestock agriculture; pests, bugs and zoonoses; veterinary medicine and the "One Health" agenda; the role of animals in the life sciences and transplant medicine; animal rights and rewilding.
By the end of the course the students should have a critical understanding 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 familiar with 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 multispecies ethnography, anti-anthropocentrism, ontology and perspectivism. Critical analysis and discussion of case studies and theoretical essays will build anthropological skills in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches.
Examples of topics that might be covered in the course include: taxonomies; pets and domestic animals; livestock agriculture; pests, bugs and zoonoses; veterinary medicine and "One Health"; xenotransplantation; ontology and perspectivism; animal rights; multispecies ethnography; and rewilding. Topics may vary from year to year.
Student Learning Experience
The course will be via one weekly two hour class and a weekly tutorial.
Attendance of the entirety of the two hour classes is compulsory. The first half of each session will consist of a lecture, while the second half of each session will involve discussion and student presentations.
All students should do the essential readings before each tutorial, and be prepared to comment on them. To this end, students will be required to have written a short reader response on the essential readings and bring it with them to class. Although these reader responses will not form part of the overall assessment they will form the basis of our class discussion. Students will be asked to hand in their reader responses at the end of each class, and general feedback on them will be given the following week.
Students should also refer to further readings in assessed work.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting 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?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Additional Information: Short formative essay due mid-semester (1500 words, 30%)
Long essay due end of semester (2500 words, 70%)
||Students will receive guidance on the short essay as they write and written formative feedback on the assignment once it is submitted. Written feedback is also given on the final essay.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- By the end of the course, students will have a critical understanding of the place that nonhuman species - animals, plants, microbes - occupy in human worlds
- Students will develop a critical understanding of the role that human efforts to distinguish ourselves from other species plays in shaping our worlds.
- students will be familiar with 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.
- Critical analysis and discussion of case studies and theoretical essays will build anthropological skills in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches.
Cassidy, R. and M. Mullin, Eds. (2007). Where the wild things are now. Oxford, Berg.
Hurn, S. (2012). Humans and Other Animals: Human-Animal Interactions in Cross Cultural Perspective. London, Pluto Press.
Kirksey, E., Ed. (2014). The Multispecies Salon. Durham and London, Duke University Press.
Lorimer, J. (2015). Wildlife in the anthropocene: conservation after nature. London, University of Minnesota Press.
Tsing, A. (2016). The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, Princeton University Press.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Rebecca Marsland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3864
|Course secretary||Mr Alexander Dysart
Tel: (0131 6)51 5197