|Course Type||Course Code||No. Of Credits|
Semester and Year Offered: Winter 2019
Course Coordinator: Dr. Niharika Banerjea
This course is designed to introduce students to the concepts of culture and identity within societies. What shapes notions in societies about “culture”? How are individual and collective identities shaped by culture and what do we understand about their interactions in societies? What are the assumptions embedded in these categories of culture and identities about people, communities, and histories? This course engages with sociological and anthropological perspectives to these notions and aims to enable students to question and de-stabilise fixed notions about culture and identity that take shape and get complicated through categories of age, race, ethnicity, gender-sexuality, class, caste, nationality, diaspora, and globalisation. Since youth are often the key sites where anxieties of cultures and
identities play out in societies, this course will engage with youth cultures and identities to unpack how global movements offer new meanings to notions of belonging and difference. Finally, this course provides students with an understanding of “multi-cultural” societies, and also provides a critical study of the politics of such categories, along with problems of cultural appropriation, and uniformity.
The main objective of this course is to enable students to understand and unpack what constitutes culture and identity, through their own reflection on the self as individuals and part of a community, as well as through films, guest lectures and a brief field trip. While students will gain an understanding of how cultures and identities get shaped, this course will also de-stabilise the notion of culture as a fixed category, as students learn about “cultural identities,” youth sub-cultures, and hybrid cultures in context of diaspora formation. Finally, this course will engage with the politics of multiculturalism, and aims to enable students to identify problems with cultural appropriation, homogeneity, and uniformity in the increasingly globalised world.
Expected learning outcomes:
Assignments and Grading:
Module 1: Unpacking meanings of “culture/s”
This module engages with unpacking meaning about culture(s), and how it is mediated in everyday life. What practices shape groups of society as part of unified cultural groups? Students will begin to appreciate the diverse groups of cultures across India and abroad, and will examine anthropological and empirical work to understand what makes specific groups distinct as cultural groups. Essentially, students will aim to understand what shapes people into particular cultural groups? How does the category of identity also shape cultures of people? Students will reflect on their own identities and cultures to make meaning about these concepts as well as engage with introductory definitions from the literature from cultural studies. Finally, this module will also offer students methodological insights into how sociologists and anthropologists have studied culture(s), and present some of the challenges of these approaches.
Films: Babies by Thomas Balmes
BBC Series Tales from the Jungle: Margaret Mead.
Module 2: Cultural identity of youth
Since youth are often the sites on whom battles of culture and identity play out, this module will continue with the theme of engaging with notions of youth and their cultural identities. Studies of young people’s cultural practices as forms of resistance from normative and adult cultures will be explored. This module begins to destablise notions of cultures and identities as fixed, particularly in light of globalisation and diaspora formation. Students will learn and come to recognize categories of cultures in societies as ever-changing and fluid categories that have historical and diasporic routes. Youth sub-cultures and identities will be studied in this module.
Module 3. The politics of culture and identity
While recognising the fluidity of cultures has been a significant move in liberal notions of societies, and led to movements of multi-culturalism and cosmopolitanism, particularly in the era of globalization, this module unpacks the critiques of multi-cultural politics, which privileges certain hegemonic cultures of the globe over ‘others’. How do some cultures get appropriated and consumed, while other cultures remain dominantly circulated as superior? Why do some identities – whether racial, caste, ethnic, classed, gendered – continue to experience marginalization and exclusion while dominant identities remain privileged? And, through what processes do the politics of culture and identity take shape? This module problematises how cultures and identities are often deployed as fixed categories so as to assert normative positions of power. Students will reflect on how education, and popular culture in particular offer insights into unpacking the problematics of appropriation, homegenisation, and uniformity.
Films and video:
Fandry Danger of a Singular Story: Adichie, Chimamanda. Ted Talk
Asafu-Adjaye et. al. 2015. An Eco-Modernist Manifesto. Available at: http://www.ecomodernism.org/ (last accessed 1/15/2017: 2 pm)