Course: Development of Anthropological Thought

Course Name: 

ANT 8026 Development of Anthropological Thought (4 credits)

Course level 

PhD-level but open to others!

Teaching Staff:                                                                                          

  • Philip Taylor (Professor Erimitus, Australian National University College of Asia and Pacific)
  • Email:  philip.taylor@anu.edu.au
  • Other VNU Anthropology staff may lead some of the sessions.

Registration:

Those who want to take this course need to register with Ngo Thi Chang via <ngochangntc@gmail.com> prior to write 23 September 2019.

Course Description:

This course explores theoretical approaches used within contemporary anthropology, ranging from those of Malinowski, Weber and Durkheim to those of Mary Douglass, Bourdieu, and Said. The aim is to help students to appreciate not only the distinctiveness of the anthropology theoretical “voice”, but also the crucial role of theory in animating anthropological (especially ethnographic) practice. The overall intention here is to help you to think about, and conceptualise, your own individual ethnographic projects with respect to the central theoretical issues and debates going on within anthropology as a whole, and to do so [ideally] before, rather than after, you have conducted your fieldwork.

Who Should Attend:

The course is compulsory for all PhD students enrolled in the VNU Graduate Program of Anthropology, including those who are preparing English-language doctoral theses. Students from other graduate programs may attend with the permission of the course convener (permission will depend largely on numbers). All students given permission to attend are expected to participate at the same level as VNU anthropology PhD student, including regular attendance, seminar presentation and workshop presentation.

Eligible students (main target group) 1 VNU Anthropology PhD students; 2 Advanced MA students; PhD students from other programs/institutions. 

Course language:

English

Mode of Delivery and Workload:

The course takes the form of twelve student-led, readings-based small-group discussion workshop sessions. Readings for each session will be available at the commencement of the course. Each workshop session will last 2 hours and will led by a student participant who whose task is to summarise, contextualise and critically assess the assigned reading (for approximately ten minutes) prior to opening the floor to general discussion (led by the course convener). The first session is an introductory and orientation session; the last few sessions will involve presentations from all student participants on the theoretical approaches to be used in their individual PhD research projects.
Dates: October 2019

Course Outline: (Readings to be dilivered to students of the course only):

  1. Introduction, aims, objectives
  2. Four early theories: evolutionary theory (Morgan, Marx), intellectualism (Fraser, Taylor), diffusionism (Boas), functionalism (Malinowski)
  3. Structural-functionalism Durkheim, Radcliffe Brown
  4. Max Weber and cultural anthropology
  5. Structuralism (Levi Strauss, Mary Douglass) 
  6. Political economy (Eric Wolf, Comaroffs)
  7. Practice theory (Bourdieu)
  8. Critical anthropology: postmodernism, postcolonialism, feminism
  9. Recent trends: either affect theory or neo-animism (Ingold)
  10. Student-led topic 1
  11. Student-led topic 2
  12. Student-led topic 3

Assessment Details:
There will be no difference between formally-enrolled students and all other students in this regard: you are expected to meet the same assessment requirements.

There are four assessment components for this course.
 a) Workshop Attendance and Participation (10%)
You are expected to attend the seminar each week having read, and thought about, that week’s readings. If you miss more than one seminar, you might not pass the course. In addition, a mark will be given for seminar participation. 
b) Seminar Presentation                                    (20%)
Each student will co-lead one week’s seminar discussion and hand in at the end of that week a 1000 word summary of the reading(s) for that week.
c) Engaging Theory in the Field              (30%)
Each student will give a short presentation in the final week of the course discussing how the readings from the course could be engaged in your PhD field research project. The student is required to submit a 1000 word written version at the end of the course.
d) Review essay                            (40%)
Each student will produce two book reviews or one integrated review essay, a literature review, or other piece of writing about theory arranged with his/her supervisor. This will be approximately 3000 words long. It is to be submitted to your supervisory panel chair.
This writing exercise is due by the end of the course.


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