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300651 Ethics and Morality: Anthropological Approaches (S) (SoSe 2020)

Inhalt, Kommentar

Over the last ten years, studies in the anthropology of ethics expanded exponentially, so much so that anthropologists call this intensification the “ethical turn” (Fassin, 2014; Lambek, 2010). This has two main reasons. First, the recent debate over what constitutes human good emerged partly as a response to “dark anthropology” (Ortner, 2016). The main agenda of the latter is to illuminate the devastating impacts of neoliberalism across the globe. Thereby, it offers an overly pessimistic outlook on global social conditions while neglecting how the world is continuously remade through different means and human endeavours (Das et al., 2000; Robbins, 2013). The anthropology of ethics, in contrast, provides a more balanced approach by looking simultaneously at human strivings for good and virtue as well as the works of power, inequality and violence in contemporary societies.
Second, an increased interest in ethics and morality is due to the rediscovery of the Aristotelian idea of ethics “as a property […] of action rather than (only) of abstract reason” (Lambek, 2010: 14). Recognising ethics as being important aspects of everyday practice challenges not only the Durkheimian view of ethics as formal rules and regulations but also the Kantian notion of placing ethical judgments in the realm of reason. Thus, the concept of “ordinary ethics” (Lambek, 2010) opens the door to seeing ethics as prone to change and exposed to contestations rather than as a set of formalized and rational rules that are frozen in time. Ordinary ethics also disputes the separation of morality and ethics. Today, ethics is understood “as a modality of social action [...] than as a modular component of society or [individual] mind” (Lambek, 2010: 10). Such conceptual flexibility also entails a definitional openness, namely the question of what constitutes the ethical is left deliberately open. After all, what counts as right or good in one social and historical context might be labelled differently under other circumstances. Any attempt to tie it to a singular interpretation would come dangerously close to ethnocentrism. A definitional lack does not mean, however, that there are no preferred ethnographic sites to study ethics. On the contrary, “the entailments of speaking, speech acts and ritual performances; establishment and recognitions of criteria” (Lambek, 2010: 11), freedom and its absence, acknowledgment, responsibility, practical judgment, the practice of care, the evaluation of a character, the cultivation of virtue, and guilt all constitute ethical acts (ibid.). In this seminar, we will follow this open-ended requirement towards ethics. We will investigate what counts as good or right in different cultural and social contexts, thereby focusing especially on postcolonial societies.

Teilnahmevoraussetzungen, notwendige Vorkenntnisse

Please note!!! The time slot of the semianr is changed to 12-2 pm Wednesdays!!

In obtaining credit points for active participation, students are expected to read the mandatory literature and take part in the debates of the seminar.

This is an advanced seminar conceived for MA students. A prior knowledge in basic concepts such as biopolitics and biopower is desired (reading materials/dictionaries and lexicons explaining basic terms are to be found in the eLearning space in the "resource" folder).

Note: credit points depend from the discipline you are enrolled in. For precise information of your credits for this course please check the respective module book or consult your examination office!

For this seminar there has been a Zoom meeting room arranged and the online sessions will take place synchronically imitating sessions of bodily presence. The details for Zoom meetings have been sent via email. Those who did not receive such invitation, should contact the seminar instructor via email or check out the eLearning space belonging to this course.

Literaturangaben

Fassin, Didier (ed.). 2012. A Companion to Moral Anthropology. Malden, MA.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Fassin, Didier. 2014. The ethical turn in anthropology: Promises and uncertainties. In: HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 4(1): 429-435.
Faubion, James. 2011. An Anthropology of Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lambek, Michael. 2010. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action. New York: Fordham University Press.
Mahmood, Saba. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Ortner, Sherry B. 2016. “Dark Anthropology and its Others: Theory Since the Eighties.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6(1): 47-73.
Robbins, Joel. 2013. “Beyond the Suffering Subject: Toward an Anthropology of the Good.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(3): 447-462.

Lehrende

Termine (Kalendersicht )

Rhythmus Tag Uhrzeit Ort Zeitraum  
wöchentlich Mi 12:00-14:00   06.04.2020-17.07.2020

Fachzuordnungen

Modul Veranstaltung Leistungen  
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30-M-Soz-M8b Soziologie der globalen Welt b Seminar 1 Studienleistung
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30-M-Soz-M8c Soziologie der globalen Welt c Seminar 1 Studienleistung
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Die verbindlichen Modulbeschreibungen enthalten weitere Informationen, auch zu den "Leistungen" und ihren Anforderungen. Sind mehrere "Leistungsformen" möglich, entscheiden die jeweiligen Lehrenden darüber.

Konkretisierung der Anforderungen

Additional credit points and a grade can be acquired through a term paper (approximately 8000 words). The topic of the term paper should closely relate to the theme of the seminar. In order to offer a meaningful supervision, students, who are interested to write a term paper, should submit a short proposal of their topic before the end of the course. The term paper proposal should also detail the research question, a proposed argumentation line and a preliminary literature list.
Only students, who participated actively in the seminar, can submit a term paper.

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