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2020-2021 Catalog

A&S 374 The Anthropology of Stuff

"Back to things!" is the motto of what Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel call an "object-oriented democracy." This dictu, illustrates the intensified concern with material objects, which has emerged in the past decade across the social sciences and humanities. The "material turn" has questioned the privileged ascription of agency to human beings by arguing that things, too, can possess a kind of agency of their own. How does this shift from a subject-centered to object-oriented philosophy intersect with Anthropology's long-standing commitment to the study of human cultures, social worlds, and subjectivities? In this seminar, we critically scrutinize the turn to things in order to explore its limitations and potentials for the discipline. We will read key works by Bruno Latour, Jane Bennet, Levy Bryant as well classic and contemporary anthropological texts by Marcel Mauss, Alfred Gell, Tim Ingold, Daniel Miller, Michael Taussig and others whose work often blurs boundaries between objects and subjects, persons and things, and the material and immaterial. Seminar participants, in the spirit of Latour's call, will conduct six "object studies" that will be developed and presented throughout the course. [SS]


A&S 102 or 103


Salas Landa