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ANTH424 The Anthropology of Evil

A cross-cultural and historical investigation of beliefs and activities seen as manifestations of evil in the world, drawing on ethnographic research, historical studies, and anthropological theory.

This course provides a cross-cultural and historical investigation of beliefs and activities seen as manifestations of evil in the world. Drawing on ethnographic research, historical studies, and anthropological theory, this course explores and analyses the social construction of evil and the facilitation of organised human cruelty and wickedness. As well as articulating an anthropological position in relation to the study of evil, this course considers conceptual and methodological approaches to the study of moral phenomena. The Anthropology of Evil begins by problematising the concept of evil and examining contemporary definitional debates surrounding the use of this term. The second section of the course explores recent representations of evil in the media and popular culture, before critically analysing four important figures of evil in western history (cannibals, Satan, witches and vampires). This section also explores classic anthropological studies (and more recent ethnographic investigations) of witchcraft and sorcery in Africa and Papua New Guinea. The last section of the course considers the social organisation of evil, narratives of surviving evil, memory and hope. This section begins by briefly examining genocide and state sanctioned violence, before exploring charisma and leadership. Finally, we consider tales of survival and memory, and future anthropological contributions to this field of study.

Paper title The Anthropology of Evil
Paper code ANTH424
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2017
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,076.55
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,267.52

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Prerequisite
72 300-level ANTH points
Teaching staff
To be advised.
Teaching Arrangements
One 2-hour lecture per week.
Textbooks
Required reading is from journal articles and book chapters available electronically through the library using Course Reserve.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Articulate an anthropological approach to the study and understanding of evil
  • Critically discuss contemporary anthropological debates surrounding evil and wickedness
  • Highlight the relationship between anthropological theory and method
  • Promote the development of critical thinking skills i.e. encourage reasonable and purposeful, self-reflective intellectual activity
Contact
anthropology@otago.ac.nz

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Timetable

Not offered in 2017

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
None

A cross-cultural and historical investigation of beliefs and activities seen as manifestations of evil in the world, drawing on ethnographic research, historical studies, and anthropological theory.

This paper explores the social construction of evil, as discourse and practice. As we articulate an anthropological position in relation to the study of evil, we consider conceptual and methodological approaches to the study of moral phenomena in social fields.

The Anthropology of Evil begins by problematising the concept of evil and examining contemporary definitional debates around the use of the term academically, in popular texts, and historically. We contextualise this around experiences of sense-making about experiences of suffering and trauma. We consider popular depictions of evil and the ethics and effect of consuming violence and suffering in contemporary media. We then delve into a detailed analysis of several important figures in Western history - cannibals, Satan, witches, vampires, and terrorists - with additional attention to how these are constructed in other cultural worlds (including case studies from Africa and the Pacific).

The next part of the paper considers the social organisation of evil and the facilitation of organised human cruelty. This section begins by briefly examining genocide and state-sanctioned violence, before exploring the role of charisma, leadership, and obedience in this. Finally we consider tales of surviving evil and the moral nature of memory, narrative, and memorialisation. We consider future anthropological contributions to this field of study – both of evil, and of good.

Paper title The Anthropology of Evil
Paper code ANTH424
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period(s) Full Year, Full Year
Domestic Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for 2018 have not yet been set
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

^ Top of page

Prerequisite
72 300-level ANTH points
Contact
anthropology@otago.ac.nz
Teaching staff
To be advised
Teaching Arrangements
One 2-hour lecture per week
Textbooks
Required reading is from journal articles and book chapters available electronically through the library using Course Reserve.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Articulate an anthropological approach to the study and understanding of evil
  • Critically discuss contemporary anthropological debates surrounding evil and wickedness
  • Highlight the relationship between anthropological theory and method
  • Promote the development of critical thinking skills (ie encourage reasonable and purposeful, self-reflective intellectual activity)

^ Top of page

Timetable

Full Year

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system
Other

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
L1 Wednesday 11:00-12:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
AND
M1 Wednesday 11:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41

Full Year

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Other

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
L1 Wednesday 11:00-12:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
AND
M1 Wednesday 11:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41