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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)
Legal Empires
Empire and Violence
Postcolonial and Decolonial
Empires of Sex and Sexuality
Empires of Religion
Plantation Empires
Humanitarian Empires
Empires of Salvation
End of Empires

Sample Readings
Burbank, Jane. Frederick Cooper; The Empire Effect. Public Culture 1 May 2012; 24 (2 (67)): 239-247.
Gorman, Alice, 2005. 'The Cultural Landscape of Interplanetary Space.' Journal of Social Archaeology 5(1), pp. 85-107.
Roberts, Nathaniel. 2012. "Is Conversion a Colonization of Consciousness?" Anthropological Theory 12(3), pp. 271-294
Stoler, Ann Laura. 2008. "Imperial Debris: Reflections on Ruins and Ruination." Cultural Anthropology 23(2):191-219.
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 2023/24, 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 Chisomo Kalinga
Tel: (0131 6)51 5118
Course secretaryMiss Karen Leung
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