Psychoanalysis and Anthropology

ANTH 3090
crosslisted as: ANTH 6090
instructor(s): Lawrence Blum
T 3:30-6:29 PM

This course introduces students to the rich literature concerning the encounter between psychoanalysis and anthropology, from Totem and Taboo to studies of the Oedipus complex, concepts of self and other, child-rearing practices, ritual symbolism, mythology, and dreams. From the anthropological side, we look at how culture, as a force external to the individual, shapes internal psychic experience. From the psychoanalytic side, we look at how internal psychic processes, in turn, influence cultural patterns. We observe and compare the different types of methods that anthropologists and psychoanalysts have used to approach these matters.

The class also puts psychoanalytic and anthropological ideas to work in examining contemporary issues such as race and gender relations, micro-aggressions, and current political disputes. Students are expected to engage actively in seminar discussions, to
master readings in psychoanalytic anthropology, and then to apply what they have learned to explorations of the world around them. The course is appropriate not only for students of anthropology or psychology, but for those interested in interpretive research in the humanities (literature, art, film) and social sciences more generally. There are no specific course prerequisites, though some prior course exposure to cultural or psychological approaches may be helpful.