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

Undergraduate Course: Anthropologists Read the News (SCAN10091)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides UG students with the opportunity to link anthropological theory to current topics being discussed in the media. This course is iteratively developed week-by-week to be in sync with current topics in the media, in order to consider how we can 'read' the news through anthropological theory. In class we will look at how public anthropologists strive to link research and action, to bring anthropological knowledge to broader audiences. In doing so, we will explore the range of approaches to public anthropology and reflect on its potential.
Course description This course will examine how anthropological theory can be used to understand current events unfolding at the same time as the course itself. The course does not have an extensive set reading list because the readings will be chosen collaboratively each week, by students and the course organiser, alongside what is being discussed in the media week-to-week. The course examines how we a) can use anthropological theory to 'read' the news, and, b) what it means to be a public anthropologist today. This dual focus of the course will explore how complex ideas are made relevant and tangible to every day events, while paying attention to how complex theories are best communicated to broader audiences, be it through Twitter threads, TikTok videos, Podcasts, YouTube clips, or Op-Eds in a newspaper. This means thinking critically about the relationships between academic scholarship, public engagement, and the contemporary media landscape. In doing so, we will engage with the range of approaches to public anthropology and reflect on their potential.

Questions this course addresses include: How well is anthropological theory suited to understanding day-to-day issues as they are presented in the news media? What can complex theoretical concepts offer for analyses of current events? And how can this be best communicated to broader audiences? What is the role of public scholarship today? What diverse approaches exist for a deliberately public scholarship? What does it mean to be a public anthropologist today? What are the practical and ethical challenges of being a 'public anthropologist'?

This course will be delivered by seminar (two hours per week), involving interactive activities, student-led discussions, classroom engagement, and some lecturing. In keeping with the broader approach of the course, assessments are designed to allow students to play with and explore ways to communicate ideas that go beyond the traditional essay. After an initial class that focusses on these ideas, there will be 8 weeks that are iteratively developed. For the first 2 of these weeks the course organiser will choose the topics. The 6 subsequent weeks will be built collaboratively between students and course organiser. The final week of class will centre on a concluding discussion, tying it all together.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Anthropological Theory (SCAN10022)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Please speak to the Course Organiser if you have not passed Anthropological Theory but have done comparable work in a different course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting 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? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Apply advanced and critical knowledge of anthropological theory to current events unfolding at the same time as the course.
  2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the role of public scholarship and engagement in the contemporary media landscape.
  3. Synthesize materials from the course in an advanced and critical way in order to create engaging multimodal content for the public, and clear, creative and convincing essays.
  4. Develop a rigorous understanding of the practical and ethical challenges of making academic scholarship for the public.
  5. Develop the necessary skills and abilities to communicate clearly, accessibly, and effectively on current events.
Reading List
- Beck, Sam and Carl Maida. 2013. Toward Engaged Anthropology. Berghahn: New York and Oxford.
- Borofsky, Robert and Antonio De Lauri. 2019. Public Anthropology in Changing Times. Public Anthropologist, 1: 3-19
- Osterweil, Michal. 2013. Rethinking Public Anthropology Through Epistemic Politics and Theoretical Practice. Cultural Anthropology, 28(4):598-620.
- Low, Setha and Sally Engle Merry. 2010. Engaged Anthropology: Diversity and Dilemmas: An Introduction to Supplement 2. Current Anthropology, 51(s2): 203-226.
- Sanford, Victoria and Asale Angel-Ajani. 2006. Engaged Observer: Anthropology, Advocacy and Activism. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, N.J.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - critically analyse current events using complex theory.
- collaborate with peers to develop critical learning and thinking skills.
- communicate through writing, speech, and multimodal content to develop persuasive and original arguments
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Laurie Denyer Willis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3878
Course secretaryMiss Katarzyna Pietrzak
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