Featured module: Anthropology of the Body

Throughout the course we will examine a range of theories and ethnographies examining everything from ways of walking and bodily adornment to zombies and the trade in body parts. For many years, anthropologists took for granted philosophical assumptions of a dichotomous split between body and mind along with a host of other dualisms including nature/culture, male/female, subject/object and human/animal. On this course we shall examine the ways anthropologists have questioned the universality and usefulness of these simplistic oppositions. We will explore how different societies conceptualize notions of purity and pollution, how the ways we eat, walk and talk are shaped through power. We investigate how bodies are transformed through rituals and how social bodies are created through sharing food, sex, song and dance. We will also explore the presence of multiple genders among Inuit, Amerindian and Southeast Asian societies and how gender is being reshaped in the West. We conclude looking at virtual and cyborg bodies in the 21st century.