Anthropology of the State: Analysis, Critique and Contestation

Course content

What roles does the state play in the lives of its citizens? How do the discourses, practices and affective attachments of citizens reproduce and reify state power? And what are some of the ways in which citizens try to circumvent, contest or revolt against the state? These are some of the questions explored in this course. We take as our point of departure some of the foundational anthropological and social scientific literature on the state. From there we move through the institutional corridors of the state; investigate the affective registers – e.g. fear, desire, suspicion or cynicism – through which people relate to the state; and discuss different repertoires of protest spanning from foot-dragging and sarcasm though queer activism to ful-fledged revolution. Alongside the readings, the course includes an ethnographic experiment. Through short fieldtrips in small groups, we shall try to map ethnographically the different manifestations of the Danish state, both those in which state power is reproduced and those in which it is unsettled.

Learning outcome

Knowledge:

At the end of the course students are expected to

  • Describe key questions and debates within the anthropology of the state
  • Understand how the anthropological approach to the state relates to and differs from that of other social scientific disciplines

 

Skills:

At the end of the course students are expected to:

  • Compare and discuss different anthropological approaches to the state power and resistance
  • Design a small ethnographic fieldwork focused on different manifestations of the Danish state and discuss the findings in the light of relevant literature. 

     

Competences:

At the end of the course students must be able to

  • Critically reflect upon the role of anthropological knowledge in the reproduction and/or contestation of state power   

The course consists of 14 three-hour weekly seminars involving brief lectures, presentations, group discussions, field trips and feedback.

BSc students and MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature.

The teacher will publish 200-300 pages of supplementary literature.

Course literature will be available through Absalon.

The lectures will provide ongoing verbal feedback regarding essay questions and approaches and summative feedback on the final essay in the form of written comments (in addition to the grade).

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
ECTS
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Essay length: 21.600–26.400 keystrokes for an individual submission. 6.750–8.250 keystrokes per extra member for group submissions. The maximum number of students who can write an essay in a group is four. For groups writing together it must be clearly indicated which parts of the assignment each of the students has written.
Aid
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See description of learning outcome. Formalities for Written Works must be fulfilled, read more: MSc Students/ BA students (in Danish)/ exchange and credit students

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 113
  • Field Work
  • 20
  • Exam Preparation
  • 35
  • English
  • 210