AN424 Half Unit
The Anthropology of Melanesia
This information is for the 2019/20 session.
Dr Michael W Scott, OLD 6.16
This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in Social Anthropology and MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
This course provides an introduction to selected themes in the anthropology of the region in the Southwest Pacific Ocean known as Melanesia. It gives students a grounding in the contemporary anthropology of the region, primarily through a close reading of three book-length ethnographies.
The three ethnographies, which are all new since 2013, are Christopher Wright's The Echo of Things, an account of what photography means to people in the western Solomon Islands; Alice Street's Biomedicine in an Unstable Place, an analysis of how persons and diseases are made visible or invisible in a hospital on the north coast of Papua New Guinea; and Alex Golub's Leviathans at the Gold Mine, a study of the relationship between indigenous landowners and a large international gold mining operation in their valley in the highlands of New Guinea.
These ethnographies not only provide students with focused accounts of three very different contexts in Melanesia, they also address histories, dynamics, and concerns familiar to people living throughout the region. Furthermore, because the three authors draw on different intellectual antecedents and disciplinary traditions, their work provides an entree into the most influential theoretical debates animating Pacific anthropology today.
Topics to be traced throughout the course include personhood and bodies, kinship and sociality, religion and cosmology, technology and infrastructure, development, globalization, and the state. Engagement with these three books will be enhanced and supplemented by other readings (including works by Pacific Islanders), ethnographic films, and a visit to the British Museum.
10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.
This course has a reading week in Week 6 of LT.
Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.
Christopher Wright, The Echo of Things: The Lives of Photographs in the Solomon Islands (2013); Alice Street, Biomedicine in an Unstable Place: Infrastructure and Personhood in a Papua New Guinean Hospital (2014); Alex Golub, Leviathans at the Gold Mine: Creating Indigenous and Corporate Actors in Papua New Guinea (2014). Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course.
Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.
The assessed essay must be between 3,500 – 4,000 words in length.
Total students 2018/19: Unavailable
Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable
Controlled access 2018/19: No
Value: Half Unit