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

Undergraduate Course: Empires (SCAN08010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summary1st year students are welcome to take this course, but please note that the content will be more advanced than on courses specifically designed for first year students.
The course will introduce students to classic themes and concepts in colonial studies, post-colonial studies, cultural studies and political economy, through accounts of cultural, political and economic change in the social anthropology of Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Pacific. Key themes include: colonialism and post colonialism, capitalism, sovereignty, globalization, political violence, science and technology, consumption, religion.
Course description Empires are alive and well. Our contemporary world continues to be shaped by many different kinds of empire: from the nation states that assert political and military control over mineral resources in foreign lands to the global corporations that control public access to medicines, food, and telecommunications; from attempts to unify new territories and populations by force to attempts to expand global markets under the banner of freedom and liberation. This course asks, how are we to understand Empires today. How might we approach Empires as cultural projects of power and control? How might we approach Empires from the perspective of those without them? What does it mean to consider contemporary Empires in the light of colonialism? And how might the study of past Empires help us to reflect on the limits to globalizing ambition?

Rooted in the contribution of social anthropology to an understanding of world history and global social transformations from below, this course approaches the study of Empires through the study of social, cultural and political change in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Pacific. The course and will be of particular interest to students taking courses in social anthropology, politics and international relations, and geography as well as African, South Asian, or Middle Eastern Studies, philosophy, economics and law.

Indicative Themes
Encountering Empire(s)
Empires and the People Without Them
Rulers and Ruled
Bitter Sweet Empires
Empires of Terror and Trauma
Empires of Mind
Empires of Spirit
Empires of Things
Technologies of Empire
After Empires

Sample Readings
Gregory, Derek. 2004. The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq. Blackwell Pub.
Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2009. Empire. Harvard University Press.
Myres, Fred (ed) 2002. The Empire of Things: School of America Advanced Research Seminars
Wolf, Eric R. Europe and the People without History. Univ of California Press, 2010.

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 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1) 35% Short written assignment (book review or commentary) 1500 words
2) 65% Long written assignment (choice of essay questions) 3000 words

Feedback 1) Essay design plan portfolio, peer reviewed exercise (wks 3-7)
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will acquire a clear understanding of the importance and scope of social anthropology┬┐s contribution to the analysis of world history, empires, and globalisation.
  2. Students will be able to demonstrate an informed, anthropological perspective on historic and contemporary projects of cultural, political and military expansion, globalization and global trade.
  3. Students will gain an ability to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in social science disciplines to global history.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tom Boylston
Course secretaryMiss Anna Hallam
Tel: (0131 6)51 1337
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