William Kenneth Little
Department of
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Courses Taught


Tuesday 8:30-11:30




Stuart Hall once said that the trick of social and cultural analysis is not to fixate on “theory” but to enjoy theorizing. I take him to mean that theorizing is a social and political practice and something anthropologists do all the time.
The course focuses on two broad processes of theorizing: as the cultural production of ideas and as critical anthropological practice. In the fall term we examine how modern anthropologies of the twentieth century were created, and out of what historical, social, political and cultural conditions, tensions, and ambiguities they were fashioned. The winter term deals with contemporary theoretical productions and the kinds of anthropologies it may be possible to imagine, that can deal with the global conditions for public life in the world today. How can thinking anthropologically reconnect social and cultural theory with acts of change? How is this possible today within the contexts of globalization, new forms of public culture and new ways of conceptualizing life itself?

The expected learning outcomes of this course are three-fold:

1) to provide students with an introduction to the different foundations of twentieth century social and cultural theory;

2) to introduce students to how theory is informed by the social and cultural worlds in which they live; and

3) to consider the politics and poetics of theory production as discursive and materialist practices.



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