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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Trang X. Ta
ANTH 305
Seattle Campus

Anthropology of the Body

Surveys classic anthropological literature examining the relationship between culture and the body. Examines Euroamerican body culture historically. Explores how the body is represented in mass media and the effects this has on everyday body ideologies.

Class description

This course is organized around the theme of "Power and the Body." Taking Michel Foucault's seminal work as a starting point we will explore how the body, as the materiality of embodied subjectivity, is the site and means for the social construction of sexuality, gender, class, ethnicity, and modern selfhood. Without denying the biological constitution of the human body and its very physicality, the "natural" body, like the nature/culture binary, is an artifact of modern thought. The body is a protean resource that is continually reimagined and constituted differently through colonial expansionist projects, scientific and medical interventions, and modern technologies of governance. Anthropological and cultural studies, in particular poststructuralist, feminist, and queer theorizations, have shown that the body is a coded construction of historically situated disciplinary regimes. The preoccupation with and anxiety over bodies (our own, others, and the social body in general) testifies to the fact that the body is at the forefront of our thoughts and daily activities. Yet, we do much more with our bodies than provide it with the basic necessities to keep it operating; we discipline our bodies to engage in a wide variety of tasks. Basically, we think with our bodies and what we think about our bodies is vitally important to how we construct our lives. In other words, "the body is good to think" because through it we can understand how social life is imagined. We will engage in a critical examination of this concept called the body in order to produce counterarticulations and counterpractices to the hegemonic regimes that serve to discipline and regulate how we live our lives. The following selection of scholarship will begin to provide us with useful analytics for building our theoretical toolbox.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Balance of lecture and seminar style discussion.

Recommended preparation

General liberal arts courses.

Class assignments and grading

Grades are based on the clarity of the presentation of ideas, perceptive analysis of the research topics, insightful utilization of the course readings, and quality of written prose.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Trang X. Ta
Date: 09/30/2011