Anthropology | The Arts in Practice and Theory
E660 | 9859 | Royce
This seminar will be an opportunity to examine the ways in which the
arts have been embodied and embedded in the practice of social and
cultural anthropology. Practice includes both the doing of it and the
reflecting on it, or, ethnography and theory, if you wish. Some arts,
visual and literary, for example, were embraced early by
anthropologists because they were thought to be more readily and
easily observable. Performing arts that were part of ritual behavior
were attended to in that context; their examination in their own right
and forms came later. The place of the arts within the larger field
has shifted throughout its history both as a source of ethnographic
data and as an aspect of human behavior that can illuminate our more
Some of the topical areas to which examinations of the arts have
contributed include identity, debates about authenticity, genre,
creativity, diaspora, presentation and representation, aesthetics,
embodiment, communication and meaning, interpretation, improvisation,
performance, cultural tourism, visual vs. literary vs. performing
arts, and ritual. Our readings and discussions will reflect these and
others that you may select.
We will explore the importance of the arts as people practice them and
think about them through readings, films, observation, and experience.
And we will examine the points at which the arts have commented on,
directed, and contributed to theory and ethnographic practice. Some
of the readings will be done by everyone; others will be read by two
people and presented to the class orally and in a written summary.
This will give us the opportunity to cover more material and for each
participant to choose some material of special interest. We will also
take advantage of guest speakers, scholars of the arts who are on campus.
The seminar will allow you to develop a research proposal in some area
of the arts, an annotated bibliography in a topical area of your
choice, or a 7000 word encyclopedia article. You may also choose to
use a medium other than text (or in combination with text) through
which to explore a topic.
Readings will include:
Barber, Karin. 2008. The Anthropology of Texts, Persons, and
Bauman, Richard and C. Briggs. 2007. Language Ideologies and the
Politics of Inequality. Cambridge Studies in the Social and Cultural
Foundations of Language. Selections from the book.
Cohen, Abner. Masquerade Politics: Explorations in the Structure of
Urban Cultural Movements.
Jackson, Jason. 2005. Yuchi Ceremonial Life: Performance, Meaning
and Tradition in a Contemporary Native American Community. Nebraska.
Stone, Ruth. 1982. Let the Inside be Sweet: The Interpretation of
Music Events among the Kpelle of Liberia. Indiana University Press.
Taylor, Julie. 1995. Paper Tangos. Duke.
Taymor, Julie and Eileen Blumenthal. 1999. Julie Taymor: Playing
with Fire. Harry Abrams.
Vogel, Shane. 2009. The Scene of Harlem Cabaret: Race. Sexuality,
Wulff, Helena. 2007. Dancing at the Crossroads: Memory and Mobility
Other readings include works by:
Mary Jo Arnoldi, Pierre Bourdieu, Marcel Mauss, Franz Boas, Barbara
Kirschenblatt-Gimblett, Anya Peterson Royce, Paula Girshick, Robert
Desjarlais, Paul Stoller, Victor Turner, Beverly Stoeltje, Susan
Seizer, Claude Levi-Strauss.