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On Violence

Instructor(s): Lisa Wedeen
Fall 2021

This seminar begins by covering major theorists of and debates about violence. Among the authors we shall read are Arendt, Fanon, Sartre, Benjamin, Foucault, Mbembe, Zizek, and Butler. We shall then explore a few ethnographies that explore issues related to violence in theoretically motivated, grounded research, including works by Masco, Scheper-Hughes, Siegel, and Taussig. The aims of the course are to combine political theory and comparative politics concerns with theoretically-motivated work in anthropology and literary studies. Considering the relationship between overt coercion and systemic violence, attending to genres of writing about violence, and focusing on the everyday lived experiences of violence, the course grapples with questions of race, class, gender, mediation, representation, and political power. The course will also reflect on the cathartic pleasures, ethical conundrums, and anti-political dimensions of violence. Students will participate avidly in class discussions and write one seminar paper OR take a final take-home exam.

PLSC 49100 | CCCT 49100