BIOETHICS PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
Biopolitics and the Contemporary Condition
What is the relation between life and politics? In the late 18th century, a new technology of governance emerged. This technology, armed with a new science of statistics, focused on the management of life and death within the population–its rates of fertility, mortality, and illness. How could life expectancy be increased? How could rates of mortality be lowered? How could biological threats be eliminated? These questions of life and death were not only biological, but also political; life itself had emerged as political problem. Michel Foucault called this new technology of power biopolitics. Since the publication and translation of Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume I and Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, the concept of biopolitics has demarcated an object of inquiry that has been taken up by scholars in a wide range of academic fields, including anthropology, sociology, bioethics, philosophy, and history. Through the lens of biopolitics, we will study a number of contemporary issues in which the politics of life and death are at stake, including humanitarianism, new medical technologies, HIV treatment, global health interventions, and epidemics. In class, we will think through these topics together using examples drawn from visual and print media including documentary film, journalism, literature, and photography.
Using Anthropology: Applied, Engaged, Political
The theoretical, methodological, and ethical practice of engaged anthropology is the subject of this course. We begin with a discussion of the uses of anthropology and the ethics of anthropological research. We then examine case studies in activist, applied, and public anthropology that demonstrate the unique practices and contributions of anthropology in diverse areas of policy and civic engagement.
DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA–LOS ANGELES
Culture and Society
Cultural anthropology involves the study of culture as symbolic product, object, knowledge, experience and invention; an unbounded and ever shifting entity, constantly under negotiation and redefinition. Cultural anthropology asks not only how and why social life takes the forms it does, but also reflects critically on the nature of understanding and representing others. In this course we will explore the nature, purpose, and practice of cultural anthropology by reflecting on a number of central themes that have guided the discipline as practiced in North America. We will discuss: the concept of culture and the practice of ethnography; theories and critiques of race and evolutionary anthropology; interpretive anthropology and anthropology as cultural critique; colonialism and globalization; investigations into epistemology; gender and difference; the anthropology of the body; humanitarianism; structural violence; visual anthropology, and the ethics of representation. On our way we will read classic and contemporary articles and essays, as well as one recently published ethnography. The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the foundations of the discipline of cultural anthropology, the politics of ethnographic writing and representation, and an introduction to some central topics of research in cultural anthropology today.
Deviance and Abnormality
Who is marked as the deviant Other, and why? This course addresses the topic of deviance and abnormality by examining mental illness and psychological suffering in sociocultural and historical context. Drawing on work in psychological, medical and psychiatric anthropology as well as from the fields of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, this course will provide the opportunity explore the anthropology of deviance and abnormality through the critical lens of gender, history, morality, and structures of power and inequality. Topics covered in the course include: culture and mental illness; culture and psychopathology; ethnopsychiatry; politics and trauma; hysteria, madness and the female body; psychosomatic illness; experience and the phenomenology of mental illness; subjectivity and postcolonial disorders; psychiatric worlds and pharmaceutical life. Together we will consider questions regarding the cultural shaping of mental illness; the social construction of disorder; the experience of illness; the gendered dimensions of diagnosis and its feminist critiques; and the relationship between violence, colonization and psychopathology. Students will complete the course with an understanding of key topics that have guided the field of psychological anthropology over the past 60 years, and will gain experience in academic research and writing.