New: Looking At Transitions – An Anthropological Perspective

One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman, said Simone de Beauvoir. Neither are we born a child, a Londoner, a Scot, a healer, a warrior, a scientist, a leader. The process of becoming these things and many others an adult, a mother, an elder, an ancestor, for example is managed across the world through an astonishing variety of rites of passage. We also use special rites to celebrate other sorts of transition from one season to another, from one monarch or government to another, from war to peace This course will investigate various transition rites, raising questions about the ethics as well as the effect of different traditions.

Who is this course for

The course is for anyone who is interested in finding out what Anthropology can contribute to in our understanding and appreciation of transitions in human life. The only requirement is that you are open-minded, prepared to contribute to discussion and interested in people.

What does this course cover

Anthropologists take a holistic view of human development and diversity. They gather evidence from many sources including popular culture- films, literature, music, magazines, galleries, museums, the internet- as well as direct observation and academic texts. They use this evidence to compare the things people produce and the way they behave, and the beliefs underlying that behaviour, in differnt societies. One interesting area of study concerns transitions. Which transitions do we, and others, celebrate? Why? How? What similarities do we find in rites of passage from different cultures across space and time? What is the effect of different traditions? What happens when those traditions change or fade away? What if they are forcibly prevented? What about the ethics involved?
By the end of the course you should be able to:
- Compare and contrast rites of passge from different times and places.
- Use examples to explain the effects of different transition rites.
- Describe some of the ethical issues involved in different rites of passage.

What will it be like

Learning and teaching methods include tutor presentation, discussion, small and large group activities, watching documentary film, research. There is no formal assessment. Your progress will be monitored and supported through observation and discussion.

What else do you need to buy or do

You only need pen and paper. You should read the material provided by the tutor. This will help you to participate fully in class.

What this course could lead to

Students may enrol on the next course An Anthropological Perspective on Current Events and Issues.

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Contact The Departmental Administrator.

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