Anth 370-2    Body and Identity

This course explores personal, social, and cultural constructions and performances of the body and identity. Key questions discussed include: what is the body, and how can we decode the meanings that are inscribed on it by our everyday practices (e.g. wearing makeup, working out) and our choices of decorative markers (e.g. clothing, tattoos, piercings)? How are gender, race, ethnicity, and power/status signaled by the body? How is rebellion enacted through the body? Do all people approach these issues in essentially the same fashion? We consider these questions through texts, films, regular class discussions, and dialogue with guest speakers. Using selected readings form anthropology, sociology, psychology, and related disciplines, the class emphasizes a cross-cultural examination of these topics, including an exploration of the paradigms within which we experience our bodies.

In this class we explore a broad range of readings centering on the problem of the human body as it has emerged as a locus of theoretical attention in recent times. Once the province of medical science and certain schools of philosophy, "the body" has become a prominent concern in the social sciences and the humanities. Cutting across disciplinary boundaries, "the body" has arrived as a carnal rebuttal to the disembodied structures, paradigms, ideologies, cognitive maps, and world-views that once dominated theoretical models in many fields. The objective of this class is to provide a forum for discussion of the implications and potentials of various projects to theorize the body.