Undergraduate Course: The Invention of History (SCAN10010)
|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||This course is about how we may understand our relationship with the past. 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.
1. Inventing histories - The first session will tackle the proposition that history, our stories of the past, are "invented" and that this processes of invention is bound-up with the politics of identity and, in particular, is indivisible from modern articulations of national identities.
2. The past in the present - In this session we will consider the anthropology of time and the problem of the relationship between the past and the present and explore the seeming contradictions inherent in the notion of the "invention of history."
3. Collective memory - In this session we will discuss the problem of the presence of the past with particular reference to "memory" and especially collective, or social, memory with an emphasis on the ways that our memories of past events are socially constituted in the present.
4. Landscapes and ruins - This session focuses on the temporality of landscape and the ways in which the past inhabits, or is said to inhabit, the material fabric of the world around us. We will particularly focus on ruins.
5. Ghosts and the return of the repressed - This session will consider the proposition that ghosts are an affective experience of the unbidden return of a past, often, traumatic and violent, that has been repressed, or "forgotten", within normative narrations of a shared history.
6. Exhuming bodies and bones - This session will consider the exhumation of bodies and bones and the ways in which the process of exhumation is enfolded into contemporary politics of memory and forgetting, particularly in situations where people are living with the legacy of state-sponsored violence.
7. Museums, Anthropology, Empires - In this session we will consider the historical and contemporary practice of material culture within both the museum and the discipline of anthropology, with a particular emphasis on how legacies of empire should be represented and negotiated within the contemporary space of the museum.
8. Intangible Cultural Heritage - The lecture will focus on complexities and contestations surrounding Intangible Cultural Heritage, as nation-states compete to have cultural expressions recognised as unique, valuable and worthy of protection.
9. Visiting the past - This session is about the lengths we will go and the money we will spend to experience the past. We discuss heritage tourism, the commodification of history and the possibility of visiting the past.
10. Dark tourism and cosmopolitan memory - To conclude the course, and following on from the discussion of heritage tourism, the final session will explore the phenomena of "dark tourism" in order to discuss the future of the study of the invention of history and collective memory in the context of globalisation and cosmopolitanism.
Student Learning Experience
This is hands on and intensive course in which students will learn through a mixture of lectures, "homework" exercises and in-class discussions. There will be a weekly two hour lecture, and this will be supported by a weekly one hour small group seminar, beginning in week 2. Beyond the classroom learning experience the course organiser warmly encourages one to one discussions about issues relating to the course content and the students own academic interests.
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
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Gain an understanding of how the past is imagined, constructed and contested through the processes of history, memory and commemoration.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr John Harries
Tel: (0131 6)50 4051
|Course secretary||Mr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925