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Anthropology 146: Culture and Conflict

Time: T/TH 6.00-10.00
Location: WSH 004


Anthropologists have long studied social change brought about in pre-industrial or small-scale societies through ongoing interactions with the nation states of the industrialized world. Often this kind of change has been conceptualized as “culture contact” or “acculturation,” even when the term “catastrophic change” is perhaps more appropriate. Anthropologists now recognize that in order to understand change, we must pay attention to the very real issues of dominance, subordination, and dependence that characterize colonial experiences, and the many situations of encounter by two or more cultures. Drawing on a survey of contemporary cultures (with some historic examples for a comparative perspective), this course will examine situations of culture and conflict that have arisen in the process of modernization and development, globalization, and war. The three case studies we will study in depth come from very traditional societies: 1) Aborigines, foragers and the indigenous peoples of Australia, 2) Somalis, pastoralists in Africa, and 3) the Hmong, swidden agriculturalists from Laos who now live in diasporic communities throughout the United States. Our goal is to develop a theoretical framework for understanding these case studies and the issues they raise, and analyze how anthropologists and world citizens can positively affect the issues affecting small-scale societies.

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