Anthropology of Globalization

Assemblage
Course Number: 
250C
Semester: 
Spring
Year: 
2017
Section: 
001
Location: 
317 Kroeber
Instructor: 
Ong, A
Units: 
4
Time: 
M 10 - 12 pm
CCN: 
12679

This seminar comes at "globalization" from the angle of interventions into uncertainty. We consider how solutions to contemporary issues of control and reproduction are conducted in "an ecology of ignorance." One understanding of the global is that increased interconnectivity engenders novel ideas about the human, living, and life itself. An anthropological approach to the design of the future is contextual, attentive to the physical and temporal aspects of human action, and the interplay of material, symbolic and affective elements. This perspective illuminates the contingency of global interconnectivity; the heterogeneity of emerging contexts; and different horizons of calculability. 

We are attuned to the confluence of technologies, markets, politics, and ethics, and how their interrelationships spark conditions of possibility in a particular site. We consider the implications of first and second order observations at the individual and institutional levels. Legacies, expertise, and technologies converge in governing practices that, by managing living and life, come to shape our future. Contemporary challenges include managing the well-being of citizens and non-citizens. Other approaches to biosecurity are less easily planned for, including preparations in anticipation of emergencies and catastrophes (both man-made and natural). The readings on various interventions into health, political, and natural threats can be plotted along a continuum of decreasing control: from risks to known unknowns. We consider the trend towards provisional governance in which experts try to engineer better chances of success even while hedging against the possibility of failure.