Violence and Subjectivity

Special Topics in Medical Anthropology
Course Number: 
221 Kroeber
Pandolfo, S
Tu Th 9:30 - 11 am

We entered the twenty-first century inhabiting a world of wars, occupations, destruction, revolt and survival that affect collective existence as well as the most intimate dimensions of personal life. That landscape of war is now showing a legacy, including at home, that is as predictable as it is are uncanny. In recent years we have been witnessing the rapid succession of hope and despair, the imagination of possible new worlds and the catastrophic destruction of countries and forms of life, which has resulted in the largest movement of population since WWII, in the closing of borders, in the drowning of thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean, the rise of racism and racial tensions, and the proliferation of random acts of violence. Traumatic experience is at once ever present as a contemporary dimension of life and death (in the aftermath of war, in acts of migration, but also in the everyday experience of racial and sexual violence), and it is normalized at the same time as a strategy of global power and an instrumental economy of claims–"empire of trauma”.

Through reading and discussion in this class we will attempt to provide tools and insight to think the moment we are living. We will explore the intersection of psychic life and history with analytic frames emerging from anthropology, political philosophy, psychoanalysis, as well, from traditions (political, ethical, and religious) other than the critical Euro-American, including the Islamic, which are at once a fertile ground for thinking possibility, and are interpolated by our time of violence.

Opening with critical theories of violence and memory, from Franz Fanon, to Hanna Arendt, to Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein, and continuing through an exploration of traumatic experience, catastrophic loss, and the history of trauma and PTSD, through ethnography, literature, and criticism, this course attempts to find a ground for the re-thinking of the relationship of loss, subjectivity, and historical transmission.



Requirements:  Attendance and participation, two papers (Midterm and Final, 10-12 pages double space) and three short response papers (2 pages). No exams.

On Violence Arendt, H  978-0156695008
Civilization and its Discontents Freud, S  978-0393304510
Freud and the Non-European Said,  E W 978-1844675111
Corregidora Jones, G 978-0807063156
Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary Das, V 978-0520247451