Special Topics in Medical Anthropology: Affects, the Body, and Experience

Affects, the Body, and Experience
Course Number: 
119
Semester: 
Spring
Year: 
2017
Section: 
001
Location: 
Hearst Field Annex B1
Instructor: 
Collu, S
Units: 
4
Time: 
M W F 12 - 1 pm
CCN: 
12541

Affects, the Body, and Experience

Affects are considered sensorial “forces” traversing the socio-cultural field and sustaining our sense of the world. In this class we focus on “embodied experience” and ask what is the role of “affects” in shaping our sensorial existence. We will take the body as an object of disciplinary knowledge in medical and psychological anthropology. At the same time, we will consider the body as a material medium with the capacity to affect and be affected. What is affect? How does it differ from emotions or feelings? How can we study affect in anthropology?

We will explore affects as (1) psychobiological drives (2) philosophical concepts to define indeterminate and potential human/nonhuman relations (3) structures of feeling shaping and sustaining our racialized and gendered feel of the world (4) explanatory principles of trance phenomena in the field of hypnosis. Generally, we will take affects as non-defined yet sensed intensities bearing within themselves the problem of how to ethnographically explore and represent them. Affects will emerge as magnetic concepts attracting issues related to the style of presentation and to non- representational modes of writing and thinking in medical, psychological, and socio-cultural anthropology.