This class explores contemporary debates on the concepts of history, tradition, and myth within the disciplines of anthropology, philosophy, historical and literary studies. How do we situate these notions, with their distinct presuppositions about time, temporality, and authority, in relation to modernity and its forms of power and knowledge? What possible relationships exist between these concepts and their different ways of articulating past, present and future? What ethical and epistemological stances do these terms serve to authorize and what uses have they been put to in different historical and cultural contexts? We will explore these questions with a particular concern for their significance to the practice of anthropology inquiry.
Authors we will read include Nietzsche, Koselleck, de Certeau, Toni Morrison, MacIntrye, Arendt, Benjamin, and Detienne.