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The focus of this course is on the role of ritual in harnessing political power. In the first part of the semester, we examine some of the ways in which different cultures manufacture social order and political power through categories of inclusion and exclusion, clean and dirty, proper and improper, and licit and illicit. We will be particularly attuned to the ways in which these categories are performed through and maintained by rituals and how bodies are deployed in ritual spaces as instruments of persuasion and control. We will also look in depth at a variety of ritual forms, including scapegoating and sacrifice, and how they serve as engines of political control and protest, and we will examine the uses of dead bodies and memorials as vehicles for gaining and maintaining political power and the destruction and desecration of bodies and memorials as a form of political protest and dissent. Throughout the semester, we will be relating theoretical texts and historical cases to current political struggles in this country and abroad.
Format: seminar; The class will be taught remotely.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
class participation, biweekly responses to instructor prompts, three short (500 words) response papers, and one 10- to 12-page (2000-2400 words) research paper
ANSO and REL majors, open to first-years
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: