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300099 Anthropology of Life (S) (SoSe 2018)

Inhalt, Kommentar

The question of life was in one way or another always at the centre of anthropological writing. Nevertheless, an explicit empirical and theoretical focus on life has only recently gained attention, mainly through the reception of the Foucauldian concepts of biopower and biopolitics, and their supplementary modification with notions such as ‘bio-sociality’, ‘biosecurity’ or ‘biological citizenship’ (Rose and Novas 2005). The vogue of such ideas reflects a heightened awareness of recent global and local transformations through which the question of life and its multiple connotations – biological as well as cultural and social – have become the central concern of politics. However, in spite of this increased attention, one cannot find a consistent theoretical framework of life in anthropology. While a large number of publications conceptually build upon Michel Foucault’s work, other anthropologists provide alternative perspectives by making use of notions, such as ‘vita activa’ and ‘natality’ (Hannah Arendt), the ‘indeterminacy of living’ and ‘exigencies’ (Jean Paul Sartre), ‘form of life’ and ‘limit’ (Ludwig Wittgenstein) or ‘life at flux’ and ‘threshold’ (Gilles Deleuze). The goal of this seminar is to delve in into these different conceptualizations of life through concrete empirical case studies from different regions of the world, while privileging postcolonial contexts. Such an approach has the advantage to develop not only a theoretically and empirically grounded understanding of ‘life’ but also a comparative perspective revealing heterogeneous constructions of living in distinct localities across the globe.

Teilnahmevoraussetzungen, notwendige Vorkenntnisse

The seminar is an advanced class and it is open primarily for MA students.

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Konkretisierung der Anforderungen

Since seminars are conceived for exchanging views as well as debating the applicability of ideas the compulsory texts raise credit points for active participation can be only obtained through active presence during the weekly sessions at the seminar. This requires (1) the reading of the compulsory text assigned for each session and (2) active involvement in the debates during the seminar. Please note that there is no alternative way to acquire the credit points for active participation.
Additional credit points can be obtained through the writing of a term paper. The term paper proposal should be submitted until July 18th, which must contain (1) the description of the topic, (2) a preliminary outline of the main research question and (3) the tentative argumentation. The deadline to submit the term papers is September 30th.

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