- Code ANTH6134
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
- ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
- Course subject Anthropology
- Areas of interest Anthropology, Development Studies, Gender Studies, Asia Pacific Studies, European Studies
This course asks: How can we conceptualize `states’? And how can one study ethnographically something as vast and difficult to grasp as a `state’? These are two different but related aspects of our approach to `states’ in this course: conceptual and ethnographic, both necessary and important to relate to each other. We will examine concepts, and look at examples of practices and processes in a number of significant domains, in order to comprehend states, in their variety, in a distinctively anthropological manner. Most of our central readings are by anthropologists, and involve the relating to each other of concepts and ethnography. Central topics through which we will look at this conjunction will include everyday practices; culture and state ritual; law and regulation; personhood and agency; hidden and overt mechanisms of power; persistent structures, emergent and mixed (state-private and other) forms of governance. Along the way we look at examples of some of the rubrics currently most often applied to states: the `stable’ state; the `would-be’ state (`Islamic state’?), the `failed’ state. Ethnographically, we will especially (but not exclusively) focus on what are considered developing states, by which is meant here: those which offer fewer entitlements and have penetrated less completely into the daily lives of their citizens, than is customary in the state systems of better-off countries. Thus the course is for students of the social sciences and related areas of practice such as development studies and social research.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- discuss different understandings of the concept `state’ from anthropology and cognate disciplines;
- understand the nature of institutions regularly considered definitive of (if not always exclusive to) states, e.g.: `legitimate violence’, citizenship, bureaucracy, census, taxation, education, security, sovereignty;
- analyse the effects in everyday life, of specific examples of state processes and practices;
- discuss a sample of major theoretical debates in anthropology in terms of which state practices and processes have been examined;
- identify, locate and evaluate primary sources relating to a particular instance of state practice/process, or issues arising around it; and
- examine how traditions of studying the state relate to research.
- Tutorial, participation and discussion (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
- Quote Entries, 3 x 300 words (5% per entry, total 15%) (15) [LO 3,4,5]
- Research paper topic proposal and initial annotated bibliography (1000 words) (35) [LO 4,5,6]
- Final Essay (4000 words) (40) [LO 4,5,6]
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsSharma, Aradhana and Akhil Gupta 2005. The anthropology of the state : a reader. Wiley-Blackwell.~
Trouillot, Michel-Rolph 2003. Global Transformations: Anthropology and the modern world. New York: Palgrave.
Krohn-Hauser, Christian and Knut G. Nustad 2005. State Formation: Anthropological Perspectives. Pluto Press.
Preliminary ReadingIndicative readings the three texts above. Trouillot is especially appropriate as an introductory reading. Krohn-Hauser and Nustad in on the library internet and thus available at any time to enrolled students.
Assumed KnowledgeBasic practical understanding of nation-state system of contemporary world; no specific region or locale presupposed.
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