This list relates to the academic year Academic Year 2013/14 which ended on 01/07/2014
This list has been archived
  1. Module 1: Kinship. (Alex Pillen) 12 items
    1. Seminar 2: What is kinship? 8.10.13 3 items
      From Morgan to Fortes anthropologists assumed that they knew what kinship was about – the mapping of cultural difference onto biological fact. A fundamental challenge to this assumption has been to question if kinship is, in fact, the same kind of thing in all societies. This has led to different examples of the ways in which kinship is defined locally. A parallel concern is the move from functional and structural models of social relations to more processual and relational accounts, highlighting the ways in which kin relations are formed in practice, rather than given at birth.
      1. Understanding the Urban Tribe - Ethan Watters

        Chapter  Not held at UCL. Available at Senate House and the British Library

    2. Seminar 3: Descent and alliance 15.10.13 3 items
      In this session we review classical assumptions in descent theory and examine ideas about consanguinity, inheritance, knowledge, power, and different kinds of connections. Yet kinship also requires the incorporation of non-kin outsiders to make future kin. Who one chooses to incorporate has far-reaching implications. It may establish alliances that reach beyond individuals. We will explore the idea of alliance theory, the exchange of goods and ‘women’ in marriage, and the incorporation of outsiders, or affines, as kin.
      1. Alliance and Descent - C. Levi-Strauss


    3. Seminar 4: Bodies and houses 22.10.13 3 items
      Is kinship a question of shared bodily substance? What is the relationship between house, body, household and family? Are houses simply temporary physical containers or do they contribute to the making of kinship? This week we explore Levi-Strauss’ idea of house-based societies and how a focus on the house destabilises previous paradigms in the anthropology of kinship based on consanguinity or affinity. Drawing on the work of Bourdieu, Carsten and Hugh-Jones we see how houses impact the lives of their inhabitants.
      1. External Boundaries - Mary Douglas

        Chapter  Digitised Reading

    4. Seminar 5: Kin-based societies 29.10.13 3 items
      This session explores the role of kin-based societies within a global political order. We postulate a continuum between kinship, familistic politics, and modern solidarities amongst strangers. The notion of a bourgeois public sphere becomes the yardstick for defining kin-based ‘Public Spheres Yet to be Achieved’ (Fischer). Can the alternative social imaginaries of internet and satellite TV become a focal point for ethnographic study? Are friends the new family? And can the classic paradigms of an anthropology of kinship take on the challenges of kin-inspired post-modern social formations?
      1. Mothers and Wives of the Disappeared in Southern Sri Lanka: Fragmented Geographies of Moral Discomfort - Alexandra Argenti-Pillen


      2. The Rhythmic Beat of the Revolution in Iran - MICHAEL M. J. FISCHER 20/07/2010


      This seminar will cover anthropological debates and controversies over the definition of religion and explore the problem of belief, a key concept in anthropological analysis of religion. We will consider the genealogy and utility of propositional beliefs (I-believe-that statements) and focus on the processual quality of belief, that is, how people come to believe something that might strike us as irrational and why people are capable of believing and doubting at the same time.
      1. Required Readings: 4 items
        1. Apparently irrational beliefs - Dan Sperber

          Chapter Essential Digitised reading: Chapter in his On Anthropological Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,pp.35-63.

        2. Persuasions of the witch's craft: ritual magic in contemporary England - Luhrmann, T. M. 1989

          Book  Chapter: ‘The Goat and the Gazelle: Witchcraft’ or ‘Introduction: the Magician’s changing Intellectual habits’ Pp. 42-54, 115-121.

        3. The sorcerer and his magic

          Chapter Essential Digitised reading: Chapter in his Structural Anthropology. New York: Basic Books.Pp.167-185.

      This seminar will cover crucial ethnographic descriptions of witchcraft and review anthropological explanations of witchcraft and its commensurability with Western science and technologies. The aim is to gain analytical proficiency in theoretical debates over functionalism, relativism, instrumentalism, and ‘primitive mentality’.
      1. Required Readings: 4 items
        1. The notion of witchcraft explains unfortunate events - E. E. Evans-Pritchard

          Chapter Essential Digitised reading: In Witchcraft among the Azande, Oxford: Oxford University Pres Pp.63-83.

        2. The devil and commodity fetishism in South America - Taussig, Michael T. c1980

          Book  Chapter: The Baptism of money and the secret of capital

        3. The creation museum - Susan Friend Harding

          Chapter  Digitised reading: Chapter in The Book Jerry Falwell. Fundamentalist Language and Politics.

    3. Seminar 8: RITUAL, CONTROL, AND RITUAL CHANGE 29.11.13 4 items
      Rituals are creative and subversive of pragmatic authority, power relations, and personal selves. They have a more-or-less invariant and recognizable historical form although a ritual under the same name might differ from one place to another. Despite the aura of timeless tradition and authenticity that validates many rituals, rituals can be pulled apart, transferred or transformed by multiple socio-political and spiritual forces, including nationalism, religious reforms and conversion. Ritual agents might be declared frauds. Rituals are also accidents waiting to happen. This seminar revises anthropological theories of ritual that have emphasized formal and enduring aspects of ritual practices and attends to the questions of ritual change and ritual failure. The aim is to demonstrate social, performative, and even semantic precariousness of rituals and draw attention to human agency that makes a ritual a success or a washout.
      1. Required Readings: 4 items
        1. Ritual and Social Change: A Javanese Example - Clifford Geertz 02/1957

          Article Essential American Anthropologist 59(1): 32-54

        2. the woman who didn't become a shaman - MARGERY WOLF 08/1990


        3. The ritual process: structure and anti-structure - Victor Witter Turner c1997

          Book  Chapter: Liminality and Communitas. Pp. 94-130

        4. ‘All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men’: the 2004 Red Matsyendrantha Incident in Lalitpur’ - Christoph Emmrich 2007

          Chapter  In Husken, U. (ed) 2007. When rituals go wrong: mistakes, failure, and the dynamics of ritual. Leiden and Boston: Brill. 133-164.

      It is a widespread popular and academic assumption that ‘religion’ is in decline. Indeed, several influential thinkers like Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim announced the end of religion in the 19th and early 20th century. Despite the legacy of Marxist and sociological approaches to religion, anthropologists tend to argue that religions are not dying out; rather many traditional forms undergo a transformation, new religions are established and secularism, understood narrowly as a separation of religion and politics, is not a foregone conclusion. While certain localised systems of belief and practice may be dwindling, certain religious movements, such as evangelical Christianity, are indeed expanding. This seminar will take both sides of the debate seriously and will illuminate the circumstances under which religion is struck out as a superstition or backward practice, and how religion remains resilient and influential in other contexts.
      1. Required Readings: 5 items
        1. Definition of religious phenomena and of religion - Emile Durkheim

          Chapter  Digitised reading: In Elementary forms of religious life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

        2. Disenchanting India: organized rationalism and criticism of religion in India - Quack, Johannes c2011

          Book  Chapter: ‘ANiS in action: The Science-Van’ 109-144

        3. Shamans, Prophets, Priests and Pastors - S Hugh-Jones

          Chapter  in C. Humphrey & N. Thomas (ed.) Shamanism, History and the State. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

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