ANT431H5S Special Problems in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology (SSc)

Topic Title: Anthropological Encounters of the Imperial Kind

  • Instructor: Abdulla Majeed
  • Day/Time: Wednesday 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM in the Winter 2023 "S" term at UTM
  • Prerequisite: ANT204H5 or ANT207H5 or approval of the department
mural artwork by Diego Rivera depicting colonialist history with many individuals in the scene
Photograph of mural artwork by Diego Rivera. Photo from Pixabay.

Recent anthropological literature has called for thinking of imperialism not as a by-gone relic or legacy of the past, but rather as a set of on-going “practices,” “presences,” and “formations” that operate across the local and transnational. This course emerges from a central mission: What can we learn about empire and imperialism, and their manifestations in ordinary life, once we scrutinize them through an anthropological lens? We will collectively investigate how imperiality comes to be entangled within both local and global process, as we grapple with the following questions, among others:

  • What do we refer to when we speak of the colonial, imperial, and empire?
  • Understand how imperial statecraft is entangled within global capitalist circuits.
  • How does the “production of difference” manifest as a central imperial strategy?
  • Examine how temporality comes to operate as an arena of imperial governance.
  • How has anthropology itself been complicit and culpable in sustaining the durability of empire?

Interrogating these questions not only necessitates developing the methodological and ethnographic sensibilities required to demystify the ways in which empire and imperialism work, but also to identify what are the objects of study when we come to speak of such elusive, and contested, grand concepts. By collectively engaging with an interdisciplinary literature from anthropology, history, political science, and geography, we will trouble our for-granted assumptions about empire and imperialism, asserting their relevance for analyzing our present moment.

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