250X 009: Seminars in Social and Cultural Anthropology: Special Topics - The Logic of Sacrifice

Instructor: Daena Funahashi

Term: Spring 2020

Time: W 1:00pm - 3:59pm

Unit: 4

Course Number: 30524

Course Description:

This course examines sacrifice as an analytic as well as a logic that opens onto the question of relationality. Anthropologists have long shown that it is through
sacrifice – the voluntary destruction of valuables (including one’s own thoughts) – that individuals forge bonds not only with each other, but also with something greater than themselves. What is it that is articulated through sacrifice that otherwise fails expression? What is it that can only emerge through its destructive excess?


Together, we will examine the logic of sacrifice as a way of relating economics to excess, production to destruction, and subjectivity to relationality. We will explore how sacrifice as a logic can help us rethink current issues ranging from ethno- nationalist violence, work-exhaustion, to martyrdom. The course engages not only classic anthropological texts on sacrifice, but also philosophical takes on sacrifice and community by Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, Jean-Luc Nancy.

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