This course offers an introduction to the concept of “culture” broadly defined as the lived realities of “others” as well as our “own”. Here, we explore how culture is conceived by and through ethnography, the practice that results from fieldwork where social scientists make sense of and learn about culture, and then represent these realities via the analysis of their own experiences in the world of these others and/or their own. The course aims to equip students with the conceptual and theoretical tools to carry out an ethnographic study, which serves as a basis for understanding as well as making comparison within and across a society. Through case study materials and ethnographic vignettes gathered from around the world, we will be drawn into the lived realities of many groups in the world.
We will attend to the particularities of individuals, their everyday lives and their contestations as well as arguments that undermine or disrupt any straightforward generalization about cultural patterns as well as examine the discursive social, economic and political forces at work, and their embodiment as a set of habitual practices and emotional responses. Through fieldwork exercises, we will also get a chance to learn how to make sense of culture and to communicate our understanding to a general audience.