Postgraduate Course: Humans and Other Species (PGSP11376)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||What happens when we humans draw distinctions between ourselves and other living species? In this course we will examine the place that other forms of life - animals, plants, microbes - occupy in human worlds. 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 our human and 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 that do not distinguish between humans and other species in the same way that we do.
In this course we will examine these debates by exploring topics such as domestication and pets; the parallels between breeding and kinship; animals, plants and microbes as scientific objects; zoonoses and pests; animal rights; extinction; the environment; non human ways of being; and the place of mythical creatures and monsters.
By the end of the course the students should have extensive and specialist knowledge 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 able to demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of theories at the forefront of 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. They will be able to apply their knowledge by critically analysing case studies in theoretical essays, and in postgraduate seminars, that will develop their ability to identify problems and issues in this rapidly moving field of anthropology.
Examples of topics that might be covered in the course include: taxonomies; pets and domestic animals; animal symbols; pests and bugs; mythical creatures and monsters; life sciences; ontology and perspectivism; animal rights; multispecies ethnography; environment, conservation and extinction. Topics may vary from year to year.
Student Learning Experience:
The course will be taught over ten sessions. Attendance of the entirety of these sessions 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.
In addition to the lectures, which are taught together with Honours, students there are five one hour tutorials for postgraduates only.
All students should do the essential readings before each two hour class, 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
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, 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)
||Coursework - 100%
Additional Information: Short formative essay due mid-semester (1000 words, 30%).
Long essay due end of semester (3000 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
| By the end of the course the students should have extensive and specialist knowledge 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 able to demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of theories at the forefront of 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. They will be able to apply their knowledge by critically analysing case studies in theoretical essays, and in postgraduate seminars, that will develop their ability to identify problems and issues in this rapidly moving field of anthropology.
Cassidy, R. & M. Mullin (eds) 2007. Where the wild things are now. Oxford: Berg.
Fudge, E. 2002. Animal: Reaktion Books.
Hurn, S. 2012. Humans and Other Animals: Human-Animal Interactions in Cross Cultural Perspective. London: Pluto Press.
Brightman, R. 1993. Grateful Prey: Rock Cree Human-Animal Relationships. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Cassidy, R. 2007. Horse people: thoroughbred culture in Lexington and Newmarket. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Descola, P. 1994. In the society of nature: a native ecology in Amazonia (trans.) N. Scott. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dupré, J. 2002. Humans and other animals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Franklin, S. 2007. Dolly mixtures: the remaking of genealogy. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Gilmore, D.D. 2009. Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Haraway, D.J. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Harries, P. 2007. Butterflies and Barbarians: Swiss Missionaries and Systems of Knowledge in South-East Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press.
Ingold, T. 1994. What is an animal? London: Routledge.
Knight, J. 2000. Natural Enemies: People-Wildlife Conflicts in Anthropological Perspective. London: Routledge.
Noske, B. 1997. Beyond boundaries. Humans and Animals: Black Rose Books.
Pollan, M. 2003. The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World. London: Bloomsbury.
Pratten, D. 2007. The Man-Leopard Murders: History and Society in Colonial Nigeria. . Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Raffles, H. 2010. Insectopedia. New York: Pantheon.
Ritvo, H. 1997. The platypus and the mermaid, and other figments of the classifying imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Singer, P. 2001 (1975). Animal Liberation. New York: Ecco.
Van Sittert, L. & S. Swart. 2007. Canis Africanis: A Dog History of South Africa. Leiden, NL: Brill.
Vitebsky, P. 2005. Reindeer people: living with animals and spirits in Siberia. London: Harper Collins.
Willis, R. 1974. Man and Beast. New York: Basic Books.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Rebecca Marsland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3864
|Course secretary||Ms Emilia Czatkowska
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244