Courses of the category “Fundamentals of Social and Cultural Anthropology” (BA)
The curricular category “Fundamentals of Social and Cultural Anthropology” is a series of six seminars, each of which deals with foundations of social and cultural anthropology in terms of theory, methodology and disciplinary history. In each semester, it is offered one course of this series in the following order:
1. “Anthropology and Epistemology”
Research in social and cultural anthropology can be understood as an attempt to convert encounters with alternative forms of knowledge into insights into previously unknown logics of knowledge and new forms of generating knowledge. With a view to selected topics from contemporary research in social and cultural anthropology, the course explores the conditions of possibility and the modalities of this process. Some of the topics addressed are: the epistemological foundations of ethnographic fieldwork; cultural relativism and universalism; positionality and perspectivity; knowledge and research ethics; heuristics and theorizing in anthropology; relevance and (scientific) knowledge.
2. “Problems of Ethnographic Representation”
In recent decades, social and cultural anthropology has increasingly attracted interdisciplinary attention because of its important role in discussions about the (linguistic) nature of reality and the connection between power and representation. The course deals with these postmod-ern and postcolonial debates and examines how and why social and cultural anthropology became at once an object of scientific critique and a point of departure for innovative representational practices in the social sciences and humanities.
3. “(Inter)cultural Reciprocity": Interpretation, Translation, Dialogizcity” / Current course in this category)
The course starts on the assumption that sociality is constituted through processes of communicative reciprocity. With a particular focus on intercultural contexts, the course explores different modalities of these processes in order to reflect theoretically on the communicative foundations of objecthorizons and methodologies of social and cultural anthropological research. Some of the topics addressed are: history and varieties of interpretative anthropology; context and understanding; the location of knowledge: language, bodies, practice; the un-speakable; theories of (cultural) translation; polyphony, multivocality and dialogue.
In the form of a reflexive exploration of scientific practice in social and cultural anthropology, the course deals with key dimensions of the ‘knowledge/power’ nexus in anthropological research. It addresses not only the political entanglement of social and cultural anthropological work in colonial and postcolonial configurations, but also research ethics, advocacy anthropology, the role of anthropological knowledge in contexts characterized by controversial identity politics and the influence of constellations of power on the ethnographic research process.
5. “Identity and Alterity”
In an exemplary way looking into fields of research that have a paradigmatic status in the history of anthropology, the course explores an objecthorizon that is formative for research in social and cultural anthropology, namely the co-production of ‘identity’ und ‘alterity’. Some of the topics addressed are: distinction and exclusion; orientalism; identity via alterity; understanding Others and the problem of incommensurability; difference and tolerance; alterity and mimesis.
6. “The Figure of the Other in the Western History of Ideas”
Whether in the form of an (utopian or dystopian) antithesis to western modernity or as a fixed-image of earlier stages of human development – the figure of the Other/Exotic is nested in many theories of the social sciences and humanities. Against this backdrop, the first part of the course explores the influence of historical encounters with (exotic) Others upon the western history of ideas as concerns, for example, issues of ‘humanity’ and ‘private property’. The second part of the course looks at the role of the figure of the Other/Exotic for theorizing in the political sciences (Marx), psychology (Freud) and philosophy (Derrida, Rousseau, Wittgenstein).
Courses of the category “Issues in Social and Cultural Anthropology” (MA)
The courses in this curricular category are open to MA students and deal with contemporary debates in subfields of Social and Cultural Anthropology which mostly relate to current anthropological research at the University of Konstanz.
Courses of the category “Qualitative Research” (BA, MA)
The courses in this curricular category are open to students of BA and MA programmes and provide an overview of the theory, methodology and application of qualitative research methods in the social sciences.