SO4B6 Half Unit
Nature and Technology: More than Human Sociology
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Dr Carrie Friese STC.S213
This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Economy and Society and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given to students on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Economy and Society and MSc Sociology. This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.
The premise of this course is that, to understand social life, we need to go beyond human subjects to also consider our relations with other living species and inanimate things. In this course we will explore how the more than human social world can be theorised, thus providing an alternative to the twin modernist notions of nature as the grounds for society as well as technology as the human construction of the material world. The theorists we will read in this course are largely located within Science and Technology Studies, and may include: Karen Barad, Vinciane Despret, Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and/or Isabelle Stengers. Drawing on these theorists, we will ask how entities like cells and microbes or plants and animals or digital and mechanical technologies shape human social life. Examples may be in the fields of: (re)production, infectious diseases, weather and climate, health care provision and/or commodity supply chains. We will explore how more than human perspectives on these processes reshapes sociological understandings of capitalism/post-capitalism, power and biopolitics, humanitarianism and rights, and/or inequalities. Through these theories and empirical case studies, across the course we will ask what it means to be human today, and we will probe the ethics involved in living together in power laden, affective relations with other species and things in remaking the planet.
This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the LT.
Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.
Essay plan of 1,500 words.
• Barad, Karen. (2007) Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.
• Chakrabarti, Pratik. (2012) Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.
• Elias, Ann. (2019) Coral Empire: Underwater Oceans, Colonial Tropics, Visual Modernity. Durham: Duke University Press.
• Haraway, Donna J. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.
• Kohn, Eduardo. (2013) How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. Berkeley: UC Press.
• Latour, Bruno. (2018) Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime. Cambridge: Polity.
• Snaza, Nathan.(2019) Animate Literacies: Literature, Affect, and the Politics of Humanism.Durham: Duke University Press.
• Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria. (2017) Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in the More than Human Worlds. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.
• Tsing, Anna. (2017) The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
• Vora, Kalindi and Neda Atanasoski. (2019) Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures. Durham: Duke University Press.
Essay (90%, 4000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%) in the LT.
An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the third Wednesday of Summer Term.
Attendance at all seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Total students 2020/21: Unavailable
Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable
Controlled access 2020/21: No
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving