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Бакалаврская программа «Социология и социальная информатика»


Social and Economic Anthropology

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс обязательный
Когда читается:
2-й курс, 3 модуль


Course Syllabus


This is an introductory course in anthropology for students in humanities and social sciences. Contemporary social and cultural anthropology is positioned on the boundary between humanities, such as literature and history, and social sciences. As a result, anthropologists practice a more self-reflexive, personalized approach to their tasks, while also striving for a particular kind of objectivity. The main product of anthropology is a specific genre of literature called ethnography – a detailed and contextual account of a particular locality, activity or situation, based on long-term personal presence and observation by an anthropologist or a team of anthropologists, who possibly also take part in the activities described. Born out of the colonial encounter between so-called “civilized” and “primitive” people, the discipline of anthropology has been particularly, and at times bitterly, aware of theembeddedness of any knowledge in violence and power. The discipline’s principles and agendasare under constant revision. The very broad comparative and global scope of study, however, remains unchanged. Anthropologists arecommitted to exploring, voicing, and finding fair generalizable languages for the very differentopinions of what it is to be human and how humans should live on this planet. The course is subdivided into two parts. The first part is a brief introduction to the epistemological, methodological and ethical foundations of anthropology to studying human social and symbolic worlds.We will learn key anthropological concepts, the basics of long-term participant observation and ethnographic writing. The larger second part of the courseis a series of introductions to some classical themes and topics thatcontinue to be productive for anthropologists working in every part of the world. By reading and discussing both classical and contemporary texts on these topics, we shall explore the ways in which the insights and debates originating in localizedor specific contexts contribute to our understanding of humanity as a whole, and vice versa.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Providing students with the basic theories and paradigms used by transnational, contemporary academic anthropologists (as exemplified by the international top-10 journals in the discipline)
  • Teaching students to use basic methods and analytical tools specific to the anthropology as a discipline, with special attention to their difference and complementarity to those in sociology.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • An understandingof how to apply anthropological analysis for studying any aspect of social life, discerning the advantages and disadvantagesof anthropological optic
  • Ability to see the problems and aspects of contemporary life in their interconnectedness (“holistically”)
  • Understanding the general importance of cultural and historical contexts, and the ability to identify which contexts are especially necessary to understand the local situation
  • Understanding advantages and disadvantages of a general comparativist approach
  • Skills of reflexive assessment of the scholar’s position in the field, among her informants, as well as in social studies, among her colleagues; knowing how to adjust these relationship accordingly
  • Familiarity with the general historical development of the field of anthropology as a part of the development of Western critical and social theory
  • Skills of conference-style discussion.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Anthropology. Origins and key concepts. (Jeanne Kormina)
    Anthropology and colonialism. Meeting the Other. Comparison. General (universal) and particular (local). The problem of human universals. Focus on difference. Cultural relativism. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The need for translation. Attempts/claims to de-ideologize (decolonize) knowledge. Anthropology and philosophy. Anthropology and sociology. The notion of Culture.Culture (“symbolic”, “meaning”) and Society (“social”, “power”). Community and Society.Playing the scale. Empiricism. Anthropology and history. Franz Boas: limits of comparison and historical particularism. Context. Holism. Anthropology – art, craft, or science? Anthropology and/versus psychology. Personhood. Egocentric, sociocentric and relational personhoods.Cartesian subject. Historical change in the Western personhood?
  • Theory and Methods. (Anna Kruglova)
    How to ask questions in anthropology.Generalization vs abstraction. Emic and etic knowledge. The epistemological status of native theories. The uneasy relationship of subject, object, and context.How and what do we compare? Anthropology as generalizing inductive empirical comparative research. Basic theories:Functionalism, structuralism (social and symbolic), and interpretivism. Ethnography – the process of research (doing ethnography) and a text (writing ethnography). The structure of emic knowledge, or “native” reflexivity.Explicit and tacit knowledge. Procedural knowledge as a type of tacit knowledge. Participant observation. Bronislaw Malinowski. The importance of long-term study and building rapport.How to do fieldwork in the city? Positionality. Polyvocality.Studying up and down. “Going native”. Native anthropologist: working in one’s own milieu. Blindness to familiar. Poetics and politics of ethnographic text. The problem of representation. The problem of the ethnographic present (absence of history).Ethnocentrism. Naïve realism. Fieldwork politics and ethics: the anthropologist as a spy. The controversy of anthropologists employed by US army in the Middle East.
  • Identity. Construction of cultural and social boundaries. (Anna Kruglova)
    Primary identities: human, age and gender. “Tools” for identity. Categories vs groups. Culture/Religion vs. Race vs. Ethnicity vs Class. Degrees of identification. Simmel’s rule. Security vs. freedom. Not identity but the process of identification. Situational and relational approaches to identity. Fr. Barth. Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (1969). Invention of tradition. Benedict Anderson. Imagined community (1983). Nationalism. Ethnicity as commodity. Comaroff J. and J. Ethnicity Inc. (2009) The problem of class, race and ethnicity in Russia. Politics of identity vs. politics of solidarity.
  • Reciprocity. Value. (Anna Kruglova)
    Bronislaw Malinowski: the Kula Ring. Marcel Mauss: “The gift”. Kula and Potlach. The ambivalence of gift’s “purity”: an act which both is, and is not, gratuitous. Is gift exchange an anthropological prototype of all social relations? Social temporalities of gift and barter. “Hau” as the “soul”of the gift. Gift as a metaphysical agentic object. “The poison of the gift.” Reciprocity and political critique. Traffic in human organs, Nancy Scheper-Hughes. Classical relational anthropological approach to value: value and social distance. Marshall Sahlins. Generalized,balanced and negative forms of reciprocity. Political-anthropological approach to value: waysto organize society. Karl Polanyi: reciprocity, redistribution, market. David Graeber. Communism, reciprocity and hierarchy. Productivist and object-centred approach to value: labour theory of value. “Rational economic actor” and Chayanov’s rule.Transformation of value.The social life of things. In/commensurability approach to value: segregation of spheres of exchange. Laura Bohannan and study of Tiv. Annette Wiener: Inalienable possessions.Commodificationand the power of money to transform social relations. From economy to axiology. Howvalue is created in human societies, and societies are created through value? “Moral economy”. Connection to discussions on corruption and informal economies in sociology.
  • Kinship and family. Social and political organization (Anna Kruglova)
    Is kinship a basic principle/prototype of social and political organization (i.e.power)? Social and biological dimensions of kinship. The Virgin Birth Debate. Sanguinity and affinity. Descent and alliance. Women as “super-gifts”: Levi-Strauss and his feminist critics. Kinship and/as political organization. Early anthropology of kinship. Edward Evans-Pritchard: The Nuer. Segmentary oppositions. Lineage, clan and tribe. Family organization. Monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, polygyny. Levirate and sororate. Clifford Geertz, “Life without husbands or fathers”. Localization of marriage. Family as structure and agency. Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of matrimonial strategies. Kinship studies and new biotechnologies. The crisis of nuclear family.
  • Ritual action (Anna Kruglova)
    Early stages of ritual research: types of ritual, elements of ritual. Emile Durkheim. Ritual as a mirror for society. Ritual as structured symbolic action. Rituals in animal kingdom: communicating intent. Performativity. Speech acts. The problem of “belief” in ritual. Don Handelman. Models, presentations and re-presentations. Structuralist symbolic anthropology. Rites of passage. Victor Turner. Tripartite structure of ritual. Structure and anti-structure. Liminality and Communitas. Separation of political and sacred power. Anti-structure agents: tricksters and sacred clowns. Performativity in USSR. Does the role of ritual diminish in contemporary world? Ritual in science. Ritual and populism. The change in the economy of ritual?
  • Rationality. Magic, science and religion. (Jeanne Kormina)
    How natives think?Azande: magic as rationality in context. Magic as law and epistemology. The living and the dead: the logic of ancestral cults. Malinovsky’s “Baloma”. Emic classifications. Mary Douglas. Purity and danger. Taboo. Classification anomalies. Claude Levy-Strauss. Totemism. “Savage mind”. Concrete and abstract thinking. Technologies and rationality.Perspectivist animism in Amerindian ontology. Eduardo V. de Castro.
  • Nature and culture. (Anna Kruglova)
    What is “nature”? Three “natures” in anthropology: internal, external, constructed. Constructed nature. “Nature” as a particular Western construct? The connection between “representation” (Platonism), Christianity, modernity, science, and “nature”. Cartesian model of personhood (body and mind divide) as a version of nature-culture division. “Naturalising” as a (Western) mode of power.Provincializing the West, decolonizing knowledge: single culture, multiple natures in the worlds of Eduardo V. De Castro. Body as an example of the problem of “nature” in anthropology. Body as representation: symbolism of the body in India and Europe. Body mapping as a method of data collection. Attempts to overcome the mind-body, culture-nature divide in social theory. Michel De-Certau. Embodiment. Marcel Mauss. Techniques of the body. Pierre Bourdieu. Habitus. Michel Foucault. Body politics. The problem of visual turn, and the call for the more sensory ethnography. “External” nature.RoyRappaport: cultural ecology.LeslieWhite. Material and ecological turns in recent social theory. Gregory Bateson and TimIngold. Object-oriented approach (ethnographies of mushrooms, oil, fat, sugar, gold, etc.)
  • Globalization. Imitation and power. (Anna Kruglova)
    Diffusionism as an early interest in anthropology, and the rise of globalization in the 1980s. Imitation in human activity. Shamanism, animism, and magic of similarity. The paradoxes of imitation. Michael Taussig. “Mimesis and alterity.” Modernityand the logic of authenticity. Glocalization.Globalization and modernization vs localization and tribalization. Cargo-cults and millenarian movements in Papua New Guinea. African expressions of modernity: fashion swaps and the movements of sapeurs. James Ferguson. The controversy “On membership and mimicry”. Globalization as meetings of rationalities in context: syncretism, hybridity, and cultural appropriation as examples of practical political analysis of global encounters.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • blocking Final exam
    Final grade is calculated based on the results for the midterm exam and final exam: G final for the course = 0,40*G midterm test + 0,60*G exam The grade decimals are rounded according to math rules, with the exception of G final exam < 4 which is not rounded and is a fail grade. For example 3,999 is rounded to 3, but 4,51 is rounded to 5.
  • non-blocking Mid-term test
    Mid-term tests cannot be re-taken. If a student missed the mid-term test on account of illness or other circumstances stipulated in HSE rules as valid reasons to miss an examination, there will be an opportunity to take a make-up test within two weeks of the original test date. All tests are taken online, on Google forms. The questions for the make-up test will come from a pool of questions different from the original test.
  • non-blocking Response papers
    2 response papers worth 15% each.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.4 * Final exam + 0.3 * Mid-term test + 0.3 * Response papers


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Spradley, J. W., & McCurdy, D. W. (2013). Conformity and Conflict: Pearson New International Edition : Readings in Cultural Anthropology: Vol. Pearson New International Ed. Pearson.
  • Tsing, A. L. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World : On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=980728
  • Victor Turner, Roger D Abrahams, & Alfred Harris. (2011). The Ritual Process : Structure and Anti-Structure. Routledge.
  • Эриксен Т.Х. Что такое антропология? / Т.Х. Эриксен. - Москва : ВШЭ, 2014. - 238 с. - ISBN 978-5-7598-1096-4. - URL: https://ibooks.ru/bookshelf/340647/reading (дата обращения: 12.10.2020). - Текст: электронный.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Boas, F. (1896). The Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.4.103.901
  • Bourgois, P. I., & Schonberg, J. (2009). Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=407430
  • Claude Levi-Strauss. (2014). Tristes Tropiques. Penguin Classics.
  • Clifford Geertz. (2008). The Interpretation Of Cultures. Basic Books.
  • D. Graeber. (2001). Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value : The False Coin of Our Own Dreams: Vol. First edition. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Daniel Dayan. (1994). D. Handelman, Models and Mirrors : Towards an Anthropology of Public Events. L’Homme, 34(130), 158–161.
  • John L. Comaroff, & Jean Comaroff. (2009). Ethnicity, Inc. University of Chicago Press.
  • Karina Urbach. (2008). Royal Kinship. Anglo-German Family Networks 1815-1918. De Gruyter Saur.
  • Lindquist, G. (2009). Conjuring Hope : Healing and Magic in Contemporary Russia. New York: Berghahn Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=761604
  • Malinowski, B. (2002). Argonauts of the Western Pacific : An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. Routledge.
  • Mauss, M. (2002). The Gift : The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Routledge.
  • Sherry B. Ortner. (2008). Anthropology and Social Theory : Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject. Duke University Press Books.
  • Tim Ingold. (2011). Being Alive : Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Routledge.
  • VARENNE, H. (1982). Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage. JEANNE FAVRET-SAADA. American Ethnologist ; Volume 9, Issue 3, Page 597-598 ; ISSN 0094-0496. https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.1982.9.3.02a00230
  • Watson, J. B. (1969). Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People . Roy A. Rappaport. American Anthropologist ; Volume 71, Issue 3, Page 527-529 ; ISSN 0002-7294 1548-1433. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1969.71.3.02a00310