Course dates

Starting date, Monday 14 Jan 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks
Starting date, Monday 29 Apr 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks

Course overview

In recent years the cultural study of space, the built environment and natural landscape has challenged western ethnocentric assumptions that everyone experiences space in the same way. This course continues this anthropological investigation, considering the differences and similarities in our spatial experiences, the way societies express themselves and how this varies cross culturally. We will question conventional ideas of space and place, drawing on a range of anthropological perspectives.

This introductory course in the anthropology of space is interdisciplinary and ranges beyond Social Anthropology to include theoretical aspects of cultural geography, psychology, philosophy, art, architectural history and interior design. This diverse content will provide an educational platform upon which you may explore these various overarching disciplines, both to enrich your own knowledge and professional development, and provide the analytical tools to understand how other cultures conceptualise and experience space. Over this 10-week short course we will critically analyse several wide-ranging themes and debates associated with the anthropology of space, place and the built environment, advancing our theoretical, conceptual and subjective understanding. Key topics include: 

• the multiple spaces of colonial and indigenous landscapes.
• the poetics and phenomenology of domestic space, gendered space, cognitive mapping and environmental perception.
• the power of space and use of spatial tactics, proxemics, space and the body, domestic ritual decoration and spatial design.
• the making, meaning and materials of the built environment, to liminal, non-spaces’ of globalisation, migration and modernity.

You will be introduced to cross cultural research from various ethnographic regions ranging beyond Europe to India, South America, West Africa, Japan and Australia. We will also include a museum or gallery visit based on material relevant to the course.

Why study this course?

• Learn about anthropological theories, concepts and debates associated with this new and exciting interdisciplinary field of space, place and built environment.
• While developing course material within an anthropological framework, you will also explore other academic fields of study ranging from architecture to art, psychology, philosophy, cultural geography and interior design.
• Expand your oral, written and critical research skills by engaging in classroom debates, theoretical and practical group exercises.
• Explore and challenge Western academic approaches by uncovering wide ranging themes from
a historical and contemporary cross-cultural perspective
• Complement your theoretical understanding beyond the classroom with a museum, exhibition or gallery visit relevant to the course.

Fees

£295

Booking information

Please note that our short courses sell-out quickly, so early booking is advisable. 

Starting date, Monday 14 Jan 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks
Starting date, Monday 29 Apr 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks

Enquiries

If you have any questions about this course please contact shortcourses (@gold.ac.uk) .

For information on our upcoming short courses please sign up to our mailing list.

Location

Richard Hoggart Building

Tutor information


Yasmin Hales

Yasmin MPhil completed a BA (Hons) in Social Anthropology and an MA in the History of South Asian Art and Architecture at SOAS London University.  Her professional experience has developed as a gallery educator and lecturer in Indian miniature painting and contemporary Indian tribal art at the Victoria and Albert museum. Yasmin’s interest in the social use of space, architecture and indigenous tribal art was consolidated through ethnographic fieldwork in Northern India and latterly an interdisciplinary scholarship research degree in the Anthropology of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University. She has taught Social Anthropology at Birkbeck, London University, and the Cross-Cultural meaning of Space and Place, faculty of Interior Spatial design at LCC, University of Arts. She is currently lecturing in Social Anthropology at City Lit Adult Education, and recently assisted as a freelance educator at the ‘Another India’ Exhibition (2017) at Cambridge Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.  Yasmin is the recipient of research grants and awards from the South Asian Studies Society, Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) for her independent doctorate research on the “Talking Streets: The Experience and Expression of Space and Place in Tamil Nadu, South India”.  Her ethnographic analysis is based on the study of Tamil vernacular architecture, the use of space, Kolam floor designs and intangible cultural heritage within Pondicherry, South India. Inspired by her academic research Yasmin recently curated a community photographic exhibition entitled “Talking Streets: The Meaning and Making of Kolam Floor Designs in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, South India” complemented by educational workshops on why different cultures decorate their walls and floors, at the Harrow Arts Centre (2016, 2017.)

 

Course structure

Week 1: Introduction to Anthropology of Space, Place and the Cultural Landscape

This introduction will provide an overview of the course and identify its main aims and objectives. A central question students’ explore is ‘What is the Anthropology of Space, Place and the Built Environment? We will look at western linguistic definitions of the terms ‘space, place’ and the use of spatial metaphors, which challenge preconceived ideas of the way we view our spatial world. Students will also explore western theoretical history associated with the concept of the ‘primitive hut’ in the early 19th century, which aims to explore the anthropological relationship between man and the natural environment as the fundamental basis for the creation of architecture.

Key Reading:
Rykwert, J (1981) ‘On Adam's House in Paradise: The Idea of the Primitive Hut in Architectural History’, Mit Press, USA.
Salmond, A. (1982) “Theoretical Landscapes, on Cross-Cultural Conceptions of Knowledge”,
in D.Parkin (ed) Semantic Anthropology, London, Academic Press.
Lawrence,, D & Low, S,M. (1990) “The Built Environment and Spatial Form”, in Annual Reviews of Anthropology(1990), 19, p453-505. An excellent introductory overview.
Blier,S (2006) Vernacular Architecture, in ed. Tilley(2006) Handbook of Material Culture, Sage.
Duly, C (1979) The Houses of Mankind, Thames and Hudson, London.

Main Reading:
Amerlinck, Mari-Jose. (2001)“The Meaning and Scope of Architectural Anthropology”, in Amerlinck (ed) Architectural Anthropology, Greenwood Publishing.
Buchli, V.,(2004) Home Cultures Vol 1, issue 1.
Coleman,S &Collins,P(2006) Locating the Field: Space, Place and Context in Anthropology, Berg.
Gupta, A, Ferguson, J (1992) Beyond Culture, space, identity and the Politics of difference
in Cultural Anthropology, Vol 7.
Humphrey, C (1988) No Place Like Home in Anthropology, Anthropology Today 4, (1) p16-18.
Lawrence, D & Low, S.M. (2003) “The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture”
Introduction,Oxford, Blackwell.
Watts, M.J (1992) Space for Everything, in Cultural Anthropology, Vol 7, p115-p129.

Week 2: Anthropology of Home - Phenomenology and Poetics of Domestic Space

This week we address the concept of space from a phenomenological and humanistic perspective. This provides the opportunity to investigate concepts beyond an objective theoretical surface, to a subjective enquiry about the way humans are situated in the world. We look at a range of influential phenomenological theories including the French philosopher Bachelard’s (1969) poetic understanding of the house, not as a descriptive object, but as a place of lived experience, memory and dreams. Students will also explore Yi Fu Tuan’s humanistic definition of space and place, whilst considering Heidegger’s phenomenological approach to the relationship between space and architecture in his seminal work “Building Dwelling Thinking” (1977) complemented by Merleau-Ponty’s (1962) study of the Body in Space. Cross cultural ethnographic examples range from the Hygee, the Danish concept of finding contentment in domestic cosiness to the Japanese spatial concept of Ma (negative space) and Ikigai ‘reason for being’.

• What makes a house a home?
• Is Ikigai the new Hygee?
• How useful is a phenomenological approach to domestic space and anthropological study of home?

Key Reading:
Blunt, A and Dowling, R (2006) “Home”, Routledge, London/NY.
Cieraad, I (1999) At Home: Anthropology of Domestic Space, Syracruse University Press.
Bachelard, G (1969) “The Poetics of Space”, Boston, Beacon Press. Extracts in (ed).

Main Readings:
Busch, A (1999) Geography of Home: Writing’s On Where We Live, Princeton Press.
Daniels, I (2010) The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home, Berg, London.
Garcia, H & Miralles, F (2017) Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Random House, London.
Heidegger, M. (1977) Building, Dwelling Thinking” in Basic Writings, San Francisco, Harper
Extracts in Leach, N (1997) Rethinking Architecture, London, Routledge, p100-108. See also “Poetically Man Dwells” p109-119, in the same volume.
Humphrey, C (1988) No Place Like Home in Anthropology, Anthropology Today 4, (1) p16-18.
Leach, N (1997) Rethinking Architecture, London, Routledge, p85-97.
Marcus, C,C (2006) House as a Mirror of the Self: Exploring Deeper Feeling of Home, Conari,
Merleau-Ponty, M (1962) ‘Phenomenology of Perception’, Routledge, London. Tuan, Yi-Fu (1972) Space and Place, Minneapolis, University of Minneapolis Press.
Valentine, G ( 2001) Social Geographies: Space and Society, Prentice Hall, Chapter 2
Wiking, Meik (2017) The Little Book of Hygee: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, William Morrow, UK.

Tate Britain Exhibition : Rachael Whiteread (Sept 2017- Jan 2018)

Week 3: Colonial and Indigenous Landscapes

Building upon our understanding of western, rationalised concepts of space, this week we explore the cultural landscape of colonial encounters and the western gaze in the continents of South Asia, Africa and South America. Using visual images from the Royal Anthropological Institute, we discuss how 19th and early 20th century explorations of non-western landscapes developed into gendered metaphors of female wilderness and spaces of otherness, in contrast to the European landscape as a representation of rational, male stability. Ethnographic case studies of the Congo as the ‘Heart of Darkness’, Orientalist metaphors of Hindu, India as a disorderly jungle, and the ethnographers’ discovery of the South American landscape will be discussed.

In comparison we see how the interdisciplinary relationship between anthropology and cultural geography unfolds through indigenous perspectives of the landscape and an interrelationship with the person. By exploring the artistic relationship between the natural patterns within the Aboriginal and British landscape we shall aim to compare visual illustrations of how topographical space can be mapped and experienced from a global and local perspective.
Video: Andrew Goldsworthy “Rivers and Tides”

• How do we define a colonial and indigenous landscape?
• What is the relationship between space, place and home from an Australian aboriginal perspective?
• How is the landscape expressed in the Aboriginal Dreamtime painting?

Key Reading:
Bender, B (2006) Place and Landscape, in ed Tilley, C (2006) Handbook of Material Culture, Sage
Cresswell, T (2004) Place: A Short Introduction, Blackwell.
Hirsh,O’Hanlon, M. (1995)“Anthropology of the Landscape: Perspectives on Place and Space”,
Oxford University Press, Oxford, NY. Intro and chapters 2,4, 5 for discussion on ethnographic landscapes in India, Australia and the Amazon rainforest.
Ingold, T (2000) “Perception of the Environment: Essay’s on Livelihood Dwelling and Skill”, Routledge.
Johnson, L & Hunn, E (2010) Landscape Ethnoecology: Concepts of Biotic and Physical Space, Berghahn.

Main Reading:

Cosgrove and Daniels (1988) The Iconography of landscape, Cambridge University Press.
Inden, I (1990) Imagining India, Introduction, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
Littleton, J (1967) The Temne House, in Middleton, J. ( ed) Myth and Cosmos: Readings in Mythology and Symbolism, Natural History press, NY.
Mirzoeff, N (1999) From Kongo to Congo, in Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture, Routledge.
Myers, F, (1986) Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self: Sentiment, Place and Politics amongst Western Desert Aborigines, Washington, Smithsonian University Press (chapt 2, The Dreaming, Time and Space, chapter 5, The Cultural basis of Landownership and its Social Implications).
Pinney,C (1992) “Underneath the Banyan Tree: William Crooke and Photographic Depictions of Caste “, in ed. PLinney, C (1992) The Parallel Histories of Anthropology and Photography in (ed.) Edwards, E, (1992) Anthropology and Photography 1860-1920, Royal Anthropological Institute, London & Yale University Press, New Haven.
Pratt, M.L. (1992) Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, Routledge, London.
Rival, L (2006) The Social Life of Trees, Berg, Oxford.
Ramanujan, A. K (1967) The Interior Landscape: Love Poems from a Classic Anthology, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Said,E (1978) Orientalism, Introduction, Penguin, London.

Week 4: Cartography, Mental Maps and Environmental Perception

This week we explore the interdisciplinary areas of cultural geography, psychology, anthropology and the built environment which relates to the cognitive foundation of human behaviour, and the way we think and move through space. Initially we examine the differences between western cartographic maps and indigenous mapping techniques. We address the way individuals and societies produce mental maps and spatial practices, and how this differs in non-western societies with reference to Wayfinding amongst Pacific Islanders spatial perspectives. Students will explore the debate between Tim Ingold who argues wayfaring is a daily act; maps are created through spatial narratives, movement and experience - “we know as we go, not before we go” - and Alfred Gell who articulated we understand and humanise our spatial environment solely through mental cartographic representations of maps and lines.

• How do we define a map?
• Is there a universal cartographic language associated with the semiotics of signs and symbols?
• How do we create mental maps and do they vary cross-culturally?

Key Readings:
Downs, RM & Stea, D (1973) Maps in Mind: Reflections of Cognitive Mapping, Harper & Row.
Ingold, T (2000) “To Journey along a way of life: Maps, Way finding and Navigation”, in Ingold, T, The perception of the environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, Routledge, Chapt 13, p 219-242.
Lynch, K (1960) An Image of the City: Cambridge , MIT Press.
Turnbull, D (1989) Maps Are Territories: Science Is An Atlas, University of Chicago Press 

Main Readings Mental mapping and senses of place: 
Basso, Keith and S. Feld. 1996 Senses of Place. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press: p3-12
Bender, B (1999) Subverting the Western Gaze: mapping alternative worlds, in (eds.) P.J. Ucko and R
Casey, Edward S. 1996. "How to get from Space to Place in a Fairly Short Stretch of Time…”in Senses of Place. K. Basso and S. Feld (eds.), 14-52. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Cosgrove, D (2005) “Mapping/Cartography” in (eds.) Atkinson, D, Jackson, P, Sibley, D, Washbourne, N (2005) Cultural Geography: A Critical Dictionary of Key Concepts, I.B , London.
Harley, JB (1992) “Maps, Knowledge and Power” Chapt 14 in Cosgrove, D and Daniels, S (1992)
The Iconography of Landscape, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Layton (1999) “ The Archaeology and Anthropology of Landscape: Shaping Your Landscape”,
Routledge, London/NY.

• BBC2 Series: The Secret History of Our Streets 
• For students interested in the fascinating subject of Polynesian navigation in the Western Pacific, the Polynesian Voyaging Society highlights differences between western and non-western cognitive thinking, and how Pacific islanders map their landscape based on memory of stars, sailing and the sea.

Week 5: Proxemics - Spatial Behaviour, Environmental Perception

Personal Space or Proxemics, is a term introduced by anthropologist Edward T Hall in 1966. Proxemics is the study of a set measurable distances between people as they interact within the built environment, and ranges from personal spatial distances to social and occupational spaces. Hall argues people experience proxemics in different ways, due to the conditioning of spatial boundaries and the associated meaning within their own cultural context. “People from different cultures inhabit different sensory worlds. They not only structure spaces differently, but experience it differently because the sensorium is differently ‘programmed’" (1966; 87). Through greeting exercises and experiences we will explore this physical and personal territory and address how proxemics relates to your own cultural behaviour and spatial preferences, individually, collectively and professionally.

  • How does culture affect proxemics?
  • To what extent are personal experiences of spatial boundaries and proxemics universally applied?

Key Readings:
Aiello, John R. 1987 'Human Spatial Behaviour', in D. Stokols and Altman I. (eds.),
Handbook of Environmental Psychology: 389-504
Hall, E,T (1966) The Hidden Dimension. Anchor Books.
Hall, E.T (2003) Proxemics in (eds) Lawrence, D & Low, S.M. (2003) “The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture” Oxford, Blackwell.
Downs, Roger M and David Stea. 1977. Maps in minds. Reflections on cognitive mapping
New York: Harper Row.

Reading Proxemics: 
Pellow, D (1996) Setting Boundaries: The Anthropology of Spatial and Social Organization, Bergin and Garvey, Connecticut, London
Simmel, G, David Frisby, and Mike Featherstone (1997) Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings. London; Thousand Oaks, California, Sage Publications.

Reading Week

Week 6: Power, Politics and Social Organisation of Space and Spatial Tactics

This week we critically examine the relationship between space, power and knowledge. One of the key influential theoreticians in this field is the French post structuralist Michel Foucault who raised various debates on the notion of discipline, surveillance and the panopticon in his seminal work ‘Discipline and Punish’ (1977). Foucault argued for the importance of architecture to influence and control human behaviour, but this all-encompassing aspect of power and knowledge appears to primarily work from the top down. Conversely, we shall address various spatial aspects of this debate to discuss to what extent the Foucauldian model is displaced through De Certeau’s perception of urban spatial tactics through street art and parkour practice of everyday life. 

• What are the different critiques to the power of space and opposing spatial tactics?
• How are meanings of space and place contested and negotiated through everyday practices?

Key Reading:
Certeau de, M. (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley, University of California Press
Foucault, M (1997) Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias’, in Leach,N (1997) Rethinking Architecture, London, Routledge, p350-355.
Foucault, M (1984) Space, Knowledge and Power, The Body of the Condemned, Docile Bodies and Panopticism, in ed. Rabinow, The Foucault Reader: An Introduction to Foucault’s Thought,
Crampton, JW , Elden,S (2007)” Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and Geography”, Ashgate, England.
Hunter, G (2012) Street Art from Around The World, Arcturus Publishers Ltd, London.

Main Reading:
Lefebvre, H (1991) “The Production of Space”, Oxford, Blackwell. See also extracts in Leach (1997) Rethinking Architecture, London, Routledge
Mitchell, T (1991) Colonizing Egypt, Berkley, University of California Press.
Smith, A & David, N (1995) The Production of Space in the House of Xidi Sukur, in Current anthropology, vol 36, 3 : 441-471. For further reference see here.

Week 7: Anthropology of Space and Gender

A critical concept in the anthropology of gender are gendered spaces. Many cultures create strong spatial boundaries towards which genders can express their identity in which public and private spaces, indeed who is included, excluded and where.  This week we explore a seminal structuralist ethnographic case study associated with Pierre Bourdieu who analysed the spatial use and organisation of the Berber House and the significance of domestic spatial zones.  In turn we examine the spatial configuration of religious architecture visible in Hindu temples, Islamic mosques and Christian churches. We question to what extent the binary oppositions that men traditionally still sit, work and produce in certain public spaces and women in the private domain exist? Or due to the impact of modernity, does the changing house size and form impact on the spatial use, boundaries and cultural beliefs of the inhabitants? 

Key Readings:
Ardener, S (1981) Women & Space: Ground Rules and Social Maps, London, Croom Helm.
Bourdieu, P (1990) “The Kayble House or the World Reversed” in “The Logic of Practise”, Stanford,
Moore, H (1986) Interpreting Space, in (ed) Moore, “Space, Text and Gender: An Anthropological study of the Marakwet of Kenya”, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p 91-120..
Ortner, S (1992) Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?, in Feminisms, (ed) Maggie Humm,
Harvester, Wheatsheaf.

Main Reading: 
Blunt, A. and Rose, G. eds. 1994, Writing Women and Space: Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies.
New York: Guilford, pp. 256.
Colomina, Beatrice (1992) “Sexuality and Space”, Princeton Press, New Jersey. See chapter 3 ‘The Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism”. p73 on the domestic interiors of Le Corbusier and Loos.
Massey, D (1994) Space, Place and Gender, Polity Press, London
Oliver, P (2003) Dwellings: The House Across the World, Oxford, Phaidon, chapter 7.
Rendell, J. ‘Introduction: Gender, Space, Architecture’ in Rendell, J., B. Penner & I. Borden (eds) Gender, Space, Architecture: an interdisciplinary introduction. London: Routledge. Various chapters in parts 2, 3.

Week 8: Domestic Space, Decoration & Ritual Embellishment 

Why is it that some cultures embellish their houses and others do not? What is the symbolic significance of these tribal motifs and to what extent are the patterns transmitted from one generation to the next? Based on the tutor’s ethnographic research amongst contemporary Indian folk and tribal art communities, students will explore debates surrounding the meaning, marginalisation and classification of primitive, adivasi art through ethnographic case studies associated with decorative walls and floors in Central and South India. We question the impact of rural to urban migration upon these artists and the ‘tribalisation’ of the art styles, whilst exploring the similarity and differences with African domestic art decoration.

Tutor Research: Talking Streets: The Experience and Expression of Kolam floor design, South India.

• Why do different cultures decorate their homes in different ways?
• How do we define ritual decoration and what is its’ purpose?
• How does tribal art compare to classical European art styles?

Key Reading:
Huyler, S (1994) Painted Prayers Rizzoli International Publications, NY.
Ingold, T (2015) The Life of Lines, Routledge, London.
Jain, J (1998) Other Masters: Other Masters, Five Contemporary Folk and Tribal Artists of India
Kuchler, S and Were, G (2005) Pacific Pattern, Thames and Hudson, London.
Morphy, H & Perkins, M (2009) The Anthropology of Art: A Reader, Blackwell, John Wiley & Sons
Art, Craft and Architecture Video

Main Reading:
Carsten, J and Hugh-Jones S. (eds.) About the House: Levis Strauss and Beyond, Cambridge, CU Press.
Dohmen, R (2004) The Home in The World, Womens’ Threshold Designs and Performative Relations in Contemporary Tamil Nadu, South India, Cultural Geographies 11, p7-25.
Myers, F (2006) ‘Primivitism’, Anthropology and the Category of ‘Primitive’ Art, in ed.
Oliver, P (1975) Shelter, Sign and Symbol, London, Barrie and Jenkins.
Pandya,Y(2005) Concepts of Space in Traditional Indian Architecture, Mapin, Ahmedabad, India
Rapoport, A (1969) House Form and Culture, New Jersey, Prentice Hall.
Tilley,C, Keane, W, Kuchler, S, Rowlands, M, Spyer, P (2006) Handbook of Material Culture, Sage.
Van Gennep, Arnold (1969) Rites de Passage, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Vatsayan, K (1991) Concepts of Space, Ancient and Modern, Indira Gandhi Research Centre for Arts, India.

Week 9: Architecture of the Earth - Materials, Meaning and Symbolism of Religious Space

This week we explore both the significance of the material and the cultural expression of buildings through the communication and semiotics of earthen architecture. We address the practical and functional ways mud buildings stand up and the associated architectural vocabulary. Students will explore the materiality of vernacular forms through an exploration of ethnographic case studies in West Africa. Through an examination of indigenous knowledge and belief systems we understand the traditional meaning of mud architecture relating to the annual rebuilding of the largest adobe building in the world, the great religious mosque of Djenne, a Unesco world heritage site. We also explore the meaning and use of adobe domestic buildings in Mali that are equally eco-friendly and sustainable and the architectural role, cultural heritage and identity of mud masons. 

Video: Susan Vogel (2007), The Future of Mud: A Tale of Houses and Lives in Djenne.
Smithsonian Article on Mud Masons
Smithsonian Article on Mud Masons 2
See also Human Planet Series BBC1 March 2011

• How can the built environment be ‘read’ or ‘decoded’?
• Why is earthern architecture important?
• How do adobe houses and religious spaces communicate in West Africa?

Key Reading:
Blier, S (1987) The Anatomy of Architecture: Ontology and Metaphor in Batammaliba Architectural Expression, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Introduction, Chapter 1-3.
Blier, S (2004) Butabu: Adobe Architecture of West Africa, Princeton, NY.
Marchand, T (2009) The Masons of Djenné, Bloomington, Indiana Univ Press.
The Architectural Review review of Djenné: African City of Mud exhibition

Main Reading:
Marchand, T (2017) Architectural Heritage of Yemen: Buildings that fill my eye, Ginko Library
Oliver, P (2003) Dwellings: The House Across the World, Oxford, Phaidon, chapter,8 9.
Waterson, R (1990) The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South East Asia, Singapore, Oxford University Press.

Week 10: From Place to Placelessness: 21st Century Liminal Spaces

From homelessness and peripheral spaces of shelter on the streets of shanty towns, to the pulsating urban dynamics of Mumbai, London and Hong Kong, in today’s diverse society, concepts of space, place and identity are constantly shifting in contrast to previous notions of ‘rootedness’. Drawing upon the process of culture, cities and globalisation, we turn our attention to the marginal, liminal spaces of in-between, to address how our 21st communities are rapidly modernising but increasingly resulting in alienating migratory non-spaces and places.

Video: Kevin McCloud: Slumming It: Channel 4 / Human Planet BBC2

• How do we define ‘liminal’ architectural spaces?
• How do you experience the relationship between culture and the modern city?
• How do migrants maintain both traditional heritage and assimilation?

Key Readings:
Auge,M (1995) Non Places: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Super modernity, Verso.
Low, G.M & Lawrence, D.Z (2003) The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture,
Blackwell, Introduction.
Soja,E (1996) Third Space: Journeys to Los Angeles, Other Real, Imagined Places, Blackwell.
Time Publication: Hong Kong Cage Dwellers Aug. 21, 2009
Exhibition “The City is Ours” Museum of London (July 2017-Jan 2018)

Main Reading:
Appadurai, A (2000) Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing: Notes on Millenial Mumbai,
Public Culture, 12 (3): 627-651.
Dupont, V, Tarlo, E and Vidal, D (2000) ‘Urban Space and Human Destinies’, Manohar, Delhi.
Harvey, D (1991) The Condition of Post Modernity, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.
M Gupta, A & Ferguson, J Beyond (1992) Culture: Space, Identity and the Politics of Difference in
Cultural Anthropology 1992 (Vol 7), American Anthropology Association, Washington, USA.
Simmel, G (1903) The Metropolis and Mental Life and Bridge and Door, in Leach, N (1997) Rethinking Architecture, London, Routledge, p66-79.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course you will have:

• Gained a critical understanding of current key anthropological theories, concepts and debates associated with the Anthropology of Space, Place and the Built Environment.
• Discovered an analytical awareness of the interdisciplinary relationship between anthropology, architectural history, art, psychology, philosophy, cultural geography and interior design.
• The ability to demonstrate effective oral, written and critical research skills, engage in debates and peer exercises and observe ethnographic film material during the course for further academic studies, personal development or your professional career.
• Explored and challenged Western academic approaches to the concepts of space, place and the built environment by introducing wide ranging themes from a historical and contemporary cross-cultural perspective.
• Developed a visual understanding of key themes and concepts through a museum visit or gallery exhibition.

About the department

Our Department of Anthropology was recently named in the top 40 in the world in the QS rankings. We are committed to cultivating a unique and creative approach to this discipline, and seek to encourage originality and apply these theories into the field. Part of this learning process involves “denormalising” or challenging the familiarity our own experiences, which each of consider the basis of normality.

The subject covers a wide range of study areas, such as politics and economics, and as such, embodies the University wide ethos of an interdisciplinary approach. We are especially interested in supporting all students by creating a responsive and collaborative learning environment, encouraging personal and social development both within, and beyond, the classroom. Anthropology pioneers new fields such as visual anthropology and the anthropology of modernity. At the core of this focus is a commitment to employing our theoretical framework into relevant practical areas, and to understanding and engaging with important contemporary global issues.

In addition to this short course, the Department hosts a number of exciting courses including:

Myth, Ritual and Magic: Introducing the Anthropology of Religion
Anthropology and Art: Museums, Galleries and Globalisation
Culture, Society and the Making of Humanity: Introducing Anthropology
Investigating the Origins of the Paranormal: Reality, Entertainment and Manipulation
Introduction to Visual Anthropology: Documentaries and Ethnographic Films

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