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

Undergraduate Course: War and Peace: Anthropological Perspectives (SCAN10089)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides UG students with an introduction to the anthropological study of War and Peace. The course explores how social anthropology can contribute to a critical understanding of the causes, characteristics, and effects of war and peace as features of the current global landscape. The focus is on what war is like for those caught up within it, rather than on battles, elite war strategies, and relations between states.
Course description This course examines anthropological approaches to the study of war and peace. We examine the spectacular and everyday violence of war in terms of structures of inequality, perceptions of difference, and the politics of representation. This involves examining the moral, legal and political particularity of war as a distinct form of violence, as well as the relationship between war and peace. We will also look at efforts that have been made to prevent war, particularly at the local level, and the social and cultural implications of the aftermath of war.

Indicative questions this course addresses may include: How is a society mobilized for war? How are societies changed, in the short and long term, by war? What, if anything, does human nature have to do with warfare? Who is most likely to die and kill in wartime? What distinguishes "war", other forms of violence and "peace"? What kinds of global and local anti-war movements have there been, and have they been effective? What can we learn about war and peace using anthropological methods?

Indicative topics to be covered include: militarism; trauma and injury; atrocity and the intimacy of violence; accountability and criminal justice; peace movements; grief and commemoration, humanitarian intervention; and veterans.

This course will be delivered through a 2 hour seminar that will combine lecture and student discussion. Seminar and lecture will centre on set readings. The course will expose students to multiple ethnographic accounts of war. It will also draw upon literature from related disciplines, including history, politics, sociology, law and literature. Case studies will be drawn from different parts if the world. Films, visual art, and music will be used to complement the readings. Students will be asked to approach these latter materials with an "ethnographic eye" to practice their ethnographic argumentation. Students will engage with these different sources in a critical, rigorous and comparative manner, developing their understanding of the potentials and limits of anthropological forms of analysis and evidence in relation to questions of war.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have a background in Anthropology.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 175 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) A mid-semester short essay (30%, 1500 words), followed by a 3000 word long essay at the end of the course (70%, 3000 words).
Feedback Feedback on mid-term essay will be received before submission of final essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge of anthropological approaches to war and peace.
  2. place anthropological approaches to war and peace within wider debates in the social sciences and humanities.
  3. apply anthropological tools to understand questions of war and peace in a critical and rigorous manner.
  4. synthesize materials from the course in order to discuss topics in class and to write clear, detailed, creative, and convincing essays.
  5. have an understanding of the methodological and ethical challenges of carrying out anthropological research on issues of war and peace.
Reading List
Aretxaga, B. 2005. States of Terror: Begona Aretxaga's Essays. Reno, NV: Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno.

Green. L. 1999. Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala. NY: Columbia University Press.

Lubkemann, S. 2010. Culture in Chaos: An Anthropology of the Social Condition in War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Scheper-Hughes, N. and P. Bourgois, (eds.). 2004. Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

Thiranagama, S. 2013. In My Mother's House: Civil War in Sri Lanka. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course will help the students to:
- critically analyse highly complex theoretical and empirical texts
- discuss complex topics in a considered and sensitive manner, not only talking but truly listening to others
- collaborate and debate at an advanced level with peers
- communicate through writing and speech to form original and persuasive arguments
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tobias Kelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 3986
Course secretaryMs Agata Lebiedzinska
Tel: (01316) 515197
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