| Department of Sociology

B.A. (Research) in Sociology

To graduate with a B.A. (Research) in Sociology each student must have a total of 108 core credits, which comprise of three SoHSS core courses + 8 Sociology core courses + 12 departmental electives + 1 U.G. thesis. The remaining 42 credits have to be earned from a combination of University-Wide Electives (UWEs) and Common Core Curriculum (CCC) courses.

Total Credits


Core Credits


Major Electives


CCC + UWE credits

Core & Elective Courses

Core Courses

Core courses are compulsory courses that provide critical foundations to the undergraduate program. For a Sociology Major, core courses for Sociology are mandatory in order to develop in-depth knowledge of the discipline. Other than the Core courses exclusive to their Major, Students are required to take Core Curriculum Courses (CCC's), which are designed to provide students with an understanding of the forces that are driving local, national, and global change and to give them an awareness of the problems facing an increasingly integrated world.

Course code
Sociological Theory I

Social theorists have examined how the institutions and practices that emerged with industrial production, technology, science, urbanization, and colonialism gave rise to new ways of being and new forms of malaise. The work of Karl Marx shows the different forms of alienation of the worker from his product with the expansion of capitalism and further how estrangement among people in bourgeois societies leads to a loss of humanity. For Emile Durkheim, the erosion of collective conscience led to anomie and individualism characterized by a lack of purpose, worthlessness, and despair. Disenchantment for Max Weber involved the eclipsing of supernatural accounts of the world that accompanied processes of rationalization. This course will focus on the ways in which people experience the various institutions and practices of modernity by examining the concepts of alienation, anomie, and disenchantment. The course will locate alienation, anomie, and disenchantment within the broader works of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber respectively. These thinkers and their interlocutors employed and evolved philosophical thought and social science methods that enabled them to respond to the momentous changes in Europe and develop perspectives on the human condition. The course will situate the work of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber in their specific historical and cultural context and trace the prevailing intellectual genealogies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. With a close reading of some of the key texts of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, the course will provide the foundations that will enable students to pursue social and anthropological theory in other courses. Students would have also developed analytical perspectives to understand modern malaise and modes of individuation with which they could further investigate the rise of intolerance, dispossession, climate change, and technology in contemporary contexts.

Anthropological Theory

This course designed for first year students of Sociology major is meant to introduce, in a preliminary way, the history of the discipline. It intends to this in two ways – on the one hand it will lay out the history, not in a linear fashion of a chronology but through the lens of its defining methodological principle – ethnography. On the other hand this course will lay out the contours of the discipline in the way it straddles the term Sociology and Social Anthropology, how we work with both in the world and how our empirical location of the global south allows for a particular understanding to emerge. The course content will work largely through ethnographies written and produced from early twentieth century to contemporary times. It will deal with ethnographies considered to be classical to ethnographies from a wide range of empirical locations including those of South Asia and women ethnographers and so forth. This course will begin with an introduction to some of the classical ethnographic inquiries not focusing on what they investigate per se but thinking about how one mode of inquiry in one part of world at a moment in time could be connected or read in conjunction with another mode of inquiry across time and space. This would enable students to grasp and understand the transition that a discipline can be marked with and how we work in acknowledgement of these shifts and transitions. The chief learning outcome of this course is for students to realise why we frame the discipline the way we do and how they should be aware of the transition of the discipline through the conceptual propositions it makes and think about the relevance of a discipline like social anthropology to investigate complex realities of the contemporary lived world.

Sociological Theory II

How do varied theoretical perspectives change understandings of how meaning making takes place in the world? Or, how does one kind of a theory give rise to another? This course will attempt to answer these questions by examining the contributions of structuralism, post- structuralism and two recent significant theoretical developments that have impacted the development of sociology and social anthropology. The main theoretical tenents of some scholars like Saussure, Barthes, Peirce, Levi Strauss’s will be examined to emphasize the development of structuralism as a paradigm that diminished the role of the individual subject or agent while highlighting the underlying structural relations that govern social and psychic practices. The transition to poststructualism will be taken up by positioning several theorists whose work arose as a distinct philosophical response to structuralism that are often positioned far apart, such as – habitus, field and strategy (Bourdieu); dialogic view on language (Bakhtin); relations of power, discourse, and the construction of the subject (Foucault); amongst others. In order to show some effects of this genealogy on contemporary sociology and social anthropology two developments will be taken up. The first is structuralisms influence in the analysis of Hinduism and Sikhism by India social anthropologists. The second, of two strands is structuralism and post-structuralisms effect on the analysis of sociological understandings of science. The intent of the course is to encourage a close reading of critical theory that continues to influence sociology and social anthropology.

Market, Exchange and Obligation

This course aims to introduce students to sociological and anthropological currents of thought, both classical and contemporary, regarding social practices and relations that constitute economic life. Sociological and anthropological perspectives help reconceptualise notions of the ‘economy’ itself, and broaden it beyond quantified and predictable metrics. These perspectives situate economic actions and relations within a larger and more nuanced framework of social, cultural and political specificities. For this purpose, an examination of the subthemes of market, exchange and obligation serve as lenses through which to approach economic life. The course broadens the scope of the market to situate it within larger systems of social exchange that involve relations of obligation and reciprocity, distribution and consumption, and trust and honour. Dwelling on these through old and new texts, theoretical and ethnographic, bring us to a nuanced understanding of how the economic cannot be studied simply in terms of itself. Based on varied understandings of different kinds of markets and exchange relations, we shall challenge commonsensical distinctions between gift and commodity, self-interest and generosity, and formal and informal economies. In addition, the course will also examine contemporary issues of debt and precarity, and their socio-economic implications. The prescribed readings are chosen with an eye to both classical and contemporary texts to give students an idea of the ways in which the disciplines of sociology and social anthropology have approached the economy over time, responding to older texts and formulating new concepts and theories. The texts also represent several regions of the world in addition to South Asia in order to provide a range of contexts. By the end of the course, students are expected to have a broad understanding of key sociological and anthropological approaches to economic life; be able to explain how the economic and the non-economic are intertwined; and be able to analyse and reflect on contemporary issues related to the economy in light of the course.

Religion and Society

Religion has been a field of enduring enquiry within the disciplines of Sociology and Anthropology. This course will introduce students to both classical and contemporary sociological and anthropological analyses of the beliefs, practices, and phenomena understood to be ‘religious’. We will examine notions of the sacred, rituals, beliefs, and religious symbols that have been central to anthropological and sociological understandings of religion. We shall also examine the ways in which magic, witchcraft and religion have been studied together in terms of their points of continuity and departures. These discussions will lead us to a critique of studying religion simply in its own terms, taking us to notions of modernity and secularity as well, in order to understand iterations of the religious in national and transnational contexts. In 1968, sociologist Peter Berger, like many of his fellow American and European sociologists, predicted that by the 21st century religion will have declined considerably in the world (if not died) and religious believers would be found “huddled” in small sects. About thirty years later, Berger retracted his secularization thesis: religion was very much present and, according to many sociologists, had in fact seen a resurgence all over the world. What does this tell us about religion, and about the relation between the religious and the secular? What does it tell us about the ways in which religion and secularity have been understood within the disciplines of sociology and social anthropology, and how have these approaches changed over time? This course situates itself within such conceptualisations of the religious, and debates around it, in order to offer a complex understanding of the religious with reference to the modern and the secular, in addition to the topics and themes mentioned previously. By the end of the course, students are expected to be well versed with broad sociological and anthropological approaches to religion; be able to complicate supposed demarcations between the religious and the non-religious; and analyse current and popular contentions around the religious.

State and Citizenship

The core aim of this course is to convey a complex, nuanced and robust conceptual matrix adequate to the two categories in the subtitle of the course: State and Citizenship. What are the diverse kinds of political organisations and states that have existed over time, and what indeed is the changing nature of citizenship? What is it that has come to be understood as state-based societies as opposed to those perceived as acephalous or head-less societies? Questions such as how leadership, power and authority operates and circulates and how such societies organise themselves and ensure their longevity are addressed along with studies of kingdoms sovereignties and colonial states, through deciphering their organising structures and principles, and how power and influence is manifested and retained in such formations such as the ‘theatre-state’ and through the ‘exemplary centre.’ We address discussions and debates on what are understood as ‘societies of contract’ with the establishment of modern statehood, and the emergence of the category of citizenship, as well as the contradictions implicit in these; also addressing the nature of governmentality and the regime of biopolitcs. There is an exploration of the formation of modern bureaucracies as well as a grounded ethnographic understanding of their labyrinthine processes, and of those who are caught up in the labyrinth. The checkered nature of the dynamics of political identity, citizenship and its margin are negotiated through ethnographies that bring out the encounter, or the lack thereof, of the margin and the state as well as the agentive aspect of the encounter. While debates on aspects of the political help us to mull over the intricacies, ideas and gaps that exist within deliberative democracies and contemporary politics. Delving into the nature of constitutional and insurrectionary politics, along with the above, help us to arrive at the stated objective of the course. The nature of the post-state era in contemporary times is a possible addition to the material already discussed.

Kinship and Relatedness

What are the ties that bind and the ties that tear? How do we make families, friendships and enemies? Indeed, how do ways of relating constitute ourselves and organise the world? This course takes up these questions through a combination of classical and contemporary studies of relatedness. Beginning with the classical trends in Sociology and Anthropology of kinship through the selections of works by scholars like A R Radcliffe-Brown, Evans Pritchard, Levi Strauss and Schneider, the course will offer selections from the works on new reproductive technologies, same sex marriage and adoption and other ways of family making. In the last segment, the course will address the formation of friendship and animosity through theoretical studies and ethnographies from the more recent times with the aim of introducing the students to emerging debates and deliberations on the changing notion of relatedness through new technologies of communication. The location of this course at Level three of the B A Research programme assumes an awareness of various forms of relatedness and sociality addressed through classical and contemporary theoretical works studied at the earlier levels. The notions of class, caste, race, ethnicity, nationality and gender can now come together into addressing specific methodologies employed in the sub-discipline of Sociology of Kinship and more recent ethnographies that grapple with the changing forms of sociality, and importantly offer a critique of the notion of sociality and suggest radical and ethical forms of sociability. At the end of the course students are expected to have been exposed to classical and contemporary methodologies through a bouquet of select ethnographies. The organization of the course materials aims to facilitate their entry into the methodology course Field Archive Ethnography and towards that end emphasizes reading and comprehension of the interlinkages between theoretical and methodological frames and writing genres and styles.

Field, Archive, Ethnography

Field, Archive, Ethnography is a workshop oriented methods course. The mandate of this course is to equip sixth semester sociology students to work on their undergraduate thesis which they will be doing in their fourth year of B.A. Sociology. This course will work through an engaged reading of various kinds of ethnographies complemented by a hands-on methodological project that students will undertake within the physical space of the university. Theoretically, the course will work along deciphering and teasing out the difference between the three parallel axes of field, archive and ethnography. Asking questions of what constitutes a field and how do we construct or use an archive in the writing of an ethnography is the central thrust of the course.

Students trained in the field of sociology/anthropology fundamentally need to work with the idea of researching and thinking about events, phenomena and processes, placed within the immediate sphere of the known or located within the realm of the unfamiliar or the alien. In probing all such contexts, the eventual object that emerges is a combination of what one produces as an understanding of that context (ethnography) along with that which informs the production of this understanding (theory) and the ways in which one collates words, meaning and approaches (method) to begin the process of this understanding. The anthropological object is but a combination, whether in sync or in flux, of theory, method and ethnography or in other words a coming together of fieldwork, archive and ethnography. This course will work with these questions theoretically as well as through a workshop style pedagogy that enables them to read ethnographies methodologically and do a hands-on methodological intervention within the stipulated duration of the course.

The chief learning outcome of this course is to enable students of Sociology to understand how the discipline of sociology is but a combination of theory and method and how the doing of field work and working on and through an archive allows for the emergence of this elusive object called ethnography – the distinct marker of our discipline.

Elective Courses

All /undergraduate students at SNU have the flexibility to choose multiple University Wide Electives, providing them the opportunity to discover their academic passion and enhancing their engagement in the learning process through the individualization of their programs of study. Students must take a minimum of 18 UE credits to fulfill their degree requirements.

Course code
Understanding Modernity

Modernity has become a defining feature in contemporary societies. It marks the coming together over the centuries of philosophical principles and technological developments, the two trends strengthening each other. Through those means the modern human aims at freeing itself from the previous bounds of former beliefs in which human actions were defined and limited.
Modernity defines itself as a point of departure from pre-existing societies and locates its genesis in the Renaissance and 18th century scientific investigative mind embodied by the encyclopedists. From the 19th century onwards, modernity has defined the core principles of policy making and philosophical debates or atleast acted as the reference to define them.
Stemming from modernity are notions such as the traditional, the folk, the backward, the classic, the pre-modern and the post-modern. It accompanies the building up of nation states and imposes a vision of society and humanity as well as a set of values. As such, it has driven societal choices but has also been the object of critique and questioning from the 19th to the 21st century.
Modernity will be looked at both as a phenomenon and as a notion through multiples angles and perspectives with lectures by faculty from Sociology, Literature, History and Fine Arts departments.
How does one locate him/herself in regard to modernity? Have humans defined themselves as master of their own destiny only in the modern period? Has modernity allowed humans to achieves their goals to free themselves from the bounds of beliefs? The notion won’t be looked at as only a western and recent concept. Other historical and cultural influences constitutive of modernity will also be considered.

Nomads and the Outside World

This course is a journey into the frontier of how multispecies assemblages get embedded in ‘culture’ while on the move! We will ask questions like: What does it mean to be nomadically mobile? How is this mobility different from other types of movement and migration? How do we understand the human-animal-landscape relationships of pastoralists in the way different species ‘become with’ others? How do we comprehend such encounters and entanglements in their various manifestations? What is located, place-based knowledge for those constantly on the move? And what of the significance of temporality and environments for nomads? How do they negotiate with state boundaries, restrictions in movements, checkpoints, officialdom and bureaucratic erasure? What new forms emerge from this process? And, indeed, what is the significance of the ‘mobility turn’ in the social sciences for us studying this course? Nomads contribute substantially to the economies, environments and cultures of the world yet remain surprisingly invisible and un-enumerated as citizens. Is this a question of their marginality or a nomadic tactic and subterfuge? The region’s mobile past, with shifting villages, markets, fields, fairs, itinerant singers and performers — juxtaposed with the obscurity of such a life in the present time — deserves close examination, as the mechanisms of flexibility and pliability continue to foster large populations of nomads across the world who persist in spite of daunting odds. The course aims to introduce students to the sociology of nomads and nomadism as well as the relationship between ‘nomads’ and the ‘sedentary other’ while investigating how communities of such dense interspecies relations negotiate collaborative survival. 

Me, Us and Them: An invitation to Sociological Thinking

“Me, us and them: an invitation to sociological thinking,” is an introductory course for Sociology with a twin aim. The first aim of the course is to think about the interconnectedness between who we are as individuals and how we belong to a group as an individual. The second aim of the course is to inculcate a sociological orientation to think about the way the world functions and what is our role in this functioning of the world. Society – a commonly used term but rarely understood, defines our location as humans. We all claim to live in a society whether as the daughter of a mother, as an inhabitant of a city, as a citizen laying claims to a belonging or as an individual who rejects these binding categories that construct a notion of this “I”. This course will introduce students to these inherent dilemmas of life and living through two complementary strains of what sociological thinkers have framed as sociological perspective and sociological imagination.  Working with these two strands of thought, this course will encourage students to think about how “I” as a subject exists and how a sense of belonging constructs the notion of a “me” to an “us” and eventually a notion of “them” which indicates how we think of those who we consider are not like us. In broad terms this course will be divided along four defining registers of how an individual is constructed: Gender, Space, Ecology and Technology. What does it mean for us to define ourselves as a man or a woman or neither or both; how may we understand where we live; how the environment and the non-human is a distinct part of society and what role does technology play in constructing the subject “I”. In a nutshell, this course invites everyone to critically engage with who we are as people and how and why we live the way we do.

Study Culture, Caste & Gender

The course focuses on studying culture in Modern India. Drawing upon theoretical materials and insights from the fields of Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Sociology and Anthropology the course proposes to build an understanding of the concept of culture and its relation to the concepts of power and social formations. The focus on Modern India will be developed through an emphasis on caste and gender. In this the course addresses two issues: the shits and transformations in the cultural formations and their constituent agents and the representation of caste and gender in cultural forms, especially in music, theatre, other performance forms and literature. At another level the course aims to develop methods of ‘textual’ analysis as the primary mode of understanding cultural forms and using archival and ethnographic material as for enhanced understanding of textual analysis.
The course will be divided into the following main units
1. Colonial period: Emergence of new cultural forms, issues in tradition and modernity, shifts in the agents of cultural forms, issues of appropriation and exclusion, processes of classicization, cultural nationalism and radical cultural movements.
2. Contemporary cultural formations: Issues in post colonial period, making of the nation and its problematization, emergence of identity formations, political and cultural resignification, feminist interventions and emergence of the studies of popular culture.
The attempt will be to develop teaching units that juxtapose the contemporary with the past for developing an understanding of ‘tradition’, history, genealogy and the archive.
The first two weeks of the course will focus on acquiring the skills for analyzing cultural practices and arriving at basic and working definitions of the three concepts in the title.
After two weeks the course will require to watch/read or listen to a sample of a cultural practice and read theoretical and informative material to build an understanding of how studying cultural practices allow us to understand and study caste and gender in Modern India.

Assessment Scheme
This is a 3 credit course. Assessment of the course is divided as follows
Assignments and participation: 1 credit (total 40%)
This consists of
Short class assignments such as response papers and assigned homework: 20%

Participation in class: 5%
Short term paper due two weeks after mid semester class test: 15%
Mid –semester class test: 1 Credit (Total 25%)
A sit down open book class test: 25%
End of Semester Class Test: 1 Credit (Total 35%)
A sit down open book class test requiring to analyze an unseen sample of a cultural practice: 35%


“I am spiritual but not religious” is a phrase we have often heard, perhaps even said ourselves. But what does it mean to be spiritual? This course will explore the many discourses and practices that are labelled as “spiritual”. In the process, we will examine some of the central characteristics of spirituality – its supposed opposition to religion and “materialism”. Does spirituality really offer the possibility of a cosmopolitan world, drawing seekers from a range of ethnic, class, and religious backgrounds? Can spirituality overcome the differences thought to be reinforced by religion? And does spirituality represent a critique of “materialism”, or is spiritual seeking a product of the culture of choice? The course will combine instructor based lectures with seminar style presentations by students. Assessment will be based on presentations, a short paper, and an end-of-course assignment.

Caste in the Modern World

Methodology is the primary premise for the development of this course. In Sociology and Social Anthropology there is a long established tradition of theorizing caste under the topic of social stratification and hierarchy. The debates on whether it is a cultural system or a structural system decide its geo-political locations. Under this umbrella, the deployment of stucturalist and interpretive frameworks produced some key investigations of caste.

A decisive re-evaluation of these approaches was based on the rejection of the idea of caste as a “system” of hierarchy but a site of struggle for political power. Begun as an ethnographic study of pre-colonial India, subsequent studies in historical anthropology/historical sociology drew attention to the emergence of the radical anti-caste public sphere opposite the reformist cultural nationalist public sphere in colonial India. This and the subsequent development of the anti-caste thought need to be an important part of a social science pedagogy for understanding the another dimension of the social, the creation of new genres of writing the social life as well as the new forms of theorization. For this purpose the course needs to take a short detour from sociological and anthropological studies and focus on literature.

Visuality, Power, Optics

What is the relationship between seeing and knowing? Which image is visible and which image is hidden? How do we know what we see or rather who has the power to make something visible? Is seeing the same as an act of looking? How do we know or test the veracity of that which is seen? Can the visual replace the textual or the word? Is what we see always based on a sense of the tangible? These questions have been posed and addressed by philosophers and sociologists alike for more than half a century now. With the ubiquitous presence of social media and tiny hand held image making devices at our constant disposal, the line between life as lived and life as an image is increasingly getting blurred and hazy. Given this moment in the contemporary, understanding the world through the mode of the visual or what has been classically referred to as visual anthropology has gained tremendous theoretical and ethnographic interest. Stemming from this theoretical thrust this course would work with the basics of what may be termed the power of optics or the visual analytic in the doing of anthropology and demonstrate how this analytic can help concur the distinction and overlap between the real and the imagined, the material and the symbolic, the instrumental and the expressive. Using this analytic as a premise, the primary aim of this course is to translate and explain the discursive register of the visual and its significance for anthropological inquiry. While the analytic offered by the tactile, the aural, the olfactory and even the sense of taste can offer an equally significant trope of analysis, this course premises the order of the visual to decipher how representation in anthropology is produced by negotiating the powerful potential of the visual – both as a methodological promise and an epistemological frame. 

Anthropology of Climate Change

Anthropologists are increasingly investigating how climate change is effecting the social worlds we live in and our conceptions of the same. This is tied to the fact that the phenomenon of climate change is effecting our quotidian lives in multifarious ways which are often beyond our control even though climate change is recognized as an ‘anthropogenic’ (caused by human actions) phenomenon. This course will introduce students to the new but rich sub-discipline of the anthropology of climate change, by questioning how humans have become the center of public debate and international policy precisely as it remains unclear what the future world effected by climate change holds. This will be taken up by investigating how different communities are dealing with climatic effects on their everyday, how scientists/experts studying climate change are engaging with the issue at hand, how economies of the world are increasingly becoming imbrued in debates about emissions and access to natural resources and how the very conception of our social worlds is changing through entities like air pollution, weather and heat amongst others. 


Sociology of Science

This course is designed to introduce students to the emergence of the idea of the sociology of science in the discipline and how these ideas aid in engaging with science and scientific objects sociologically. To understand this, the course will be divided into two sections: Concepts and Approaches; and Ethnographies of Science. The first section – Concepts and Approaches – will trace the historical emergence of the sociology of science, by laying emphasis on central concepts and varied theoretical approaches that have become seminal to understanding not only how the sub-discipline has developed but how an analysis of ‘science’ can be undertaken sociologically. The second section – Ethnographies of Science – will highlight how ethnographic studies of science and scientists have been undertaken in different domains such as laboratories, environment planning, technological warfare and biomedicine amongst others. 


The Life of Law

Sociological themes of the collective and the individual have animated studies of legal pluralism. The assumptions underlying state law is that the individual is atomistic, agentive and bound by social contract. Non-state legal forums such as councils, religious institutions and customary law tend to be based on adherence to authority, relationality and plurality. This course addresses these distinctions through various perspectives by drawing on themes in contemporary anthropology that include the genealogy of the modern subject, temporality, ethics, and materiality.

From Feminism to Queer Studies

This course traces the major debates in the expansion of feminist theory into queer studies. Taking the theorization of sex-gender system as the moment of beginning the course traverses some important theoretical texts through intersectionality to a critique of sex-gender system and the beginnings of the theory of gender performativity.

Anthropology of the Body

We inhabit the world through our bodies. We move through the world with our bodies. We feel pain in our bodies. And yet more often than not, we give barely a thought to our bodies. It is a natural, physiological given. This course aims to go beyond the biological givenness of the human body, questioning its presumed universality in nature, culture and society. In this course, we will situate the individual body within the social, examining it in diverse ways and through a range of anthropological approaches. We will look at the body as representational and symbolic, as the site of inscribing and resisting power; we will consider techniques of the body and the body as technology; and we will study how the world is experienced in embodied ways that is, through the very materiality of the body. In doing so, we will understand the body in its complex corporeal and yet social aspects. Thus, this course understands the body as both deeply personal and intensely social, even when it is subjected to scientific and presumably ‘objective’ interrogation. Questions of identity, power, agency, ethics, gender, caste, ethnicity, and class will all feature in our discussions. We will also try to move beyond the human body, taking into consideration the other-than-human beings such as microbes that constitute our body, as well as the larger social worlds within which we are situated. Readings will involve a mix of anthropological classics and contemporary texts, as well as texts from allied disciplines to engage us in a critical understanding and examination of the body.

Rap Music in Multiple Contexts

Rap music is one among the various musical genres of American “popular culture” that emerged at the intersection of major technological advances in the sound recording and broadcasting industry and the post-colonial critique of Europe as the model of artistic expressions and aesthetics. The subsequent emergence of USA as the world power and the processes of ‘globalization’ facilitated a wide circulation and consumption of the musical genres invigorating a yet another process of the emergence of “hybrid” forms of artistic expression in several regions in the world. Rap music stands apart from other musical genres because of its roots in the overtly “political” and subversive discourse of anti-racism and self respect and its co-habitation along with other expressive forms like breakdance, DJaying/turntablism/scratching, sampling and graffiti making it part of a larger Hip Hop culture. As a musical genre Rap also stands apart because of its distance from melody and harmony and emphasis on the beat and a verbal delivery proximate to poetry and poetic narrative genres. Even as one element in the formation of “black” or African American artistic expressions and black aesthetics and the ensuing debates on subversive taste, in the case of Rap ( and Hip Hop) the debates are far more intense. On the one hand, the intensity is produced at the intersection of racist and anti racist thought and on the other hand, Rap, right from the early times also produced internal debates about its sexist and misogynist attitudes. The aggressive forms of “Gangsta Rap” added a further salience to these debates. Early scholars of American Hip Hop and Rap, often locate it simultaneously in the larger context of “popular culture” and urban studies; as elaborations of black-aesthetics and the making of the “inner city” or the “hood” and gang wars, for example. Simultaneously, this scholarship also traces the journey of Hip Hop out of the streets and gangs into the “culture industry” and the participation of non-black artists and consumers and the subsequent debates around community, ownership, appropriation and authenticity. Most of this scholarship combines an ethnographic and culture studies approach. More recent scholarship has reviewed these debates and refined the scholarship in two ways. On the question of the history of Rap and Hip Hop, it has challanged the claim of singular ‘black’ ownership by drawing more nuanced genealogies of Hip Hop to other participations such as Latino American and Asian migrant populations in USA. Secondly, extending the scope of culture studies and ethnographic studies through musicological and ethnomusicological approaches scholars have been more attentive to the interconnections between musical ideas and their place in the formation of the social around this music, often making new concepts for understanding these interconnections.

Concpt & Evidence in Anthrop..

SOC 412 works with the distinction between theory, method and ethnography in the production of what we may term the anthropological object. Students trained in the field of sociology/anthropology fundamentally need to work with the idea of researching and thinking about events, phenomena and processes, placed within the immediate sphere of the known or located within the realm of the unfamiliar or the alien. In probing all such contexts, the eventual object that emerges is a combination of what one produces as an understanding of that context (ethnography) along with that which informs the production of this understanding (theory) and the ways in which one collates words, meaning and approaches (method) to begin the process of this understanding. The anthropological object is but a combination, whether in sync or in flux, of theory, method and ethnography. This course will enable and equip students to tease out the distinction or maybe the conflation of the three realms – theory, method and ethnography which informs the production of an anthropological object. This will be done with some amount of care and attention paid to texts, both theoretical and ethnographic, classical and contemporary.

The Politics of Life and Death

Contemporary social scientists have revisited the distinction made by the ancient Greeks between zoe, the biological fact of life, and bios, the manner in which life is lived, or biography shaped by speech and action. In particular, anthropologists have engaged with the work of philosophers such as Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, and Giorgio Agamben to show how the modern condition can be characterized as importing the biological into the realm of the political. The first part of this course examines Foucault’s notion of the biopolitical or a technology of power that controls the biological processes of the human, ensuring that they are regularized through a range of measures such as statistics and forecasts. We will focus on ethnographies that draw on and revise Foucault’s notion of biopolitics to focus on how colonial and post-colonial state practices value human life differently. Themes covered include practices of governance, the work of humanitarian organizations, and governing epidemics. The second part of the course draws on ethnographies that show how people who face violence, epidemics, deprivation, and humiliation draw on complex entanglements of custom, ritual, and religious practices to reclaim life and death in ways that escape regularization and are in tension with biopolitical regimes. In particular, the focus on the ethical and everyday demonstrates how people grapple with questions of the value of life that are grounded in practice.

Health, Disease, Illness

Sociology in its chronological origin relies heavily on the organic to think through the ideas of society. However, it is in the long twentieth century that the organic gives way to the biological and the thoughts and concepts of classical sociology are reenacted. This course is conceived as a refracted introduction to classical sociology through a biomedical biography of the twentieth century. This introduction primarily involves encountering an ascendance and routinization of biomedicine through a series of concepts, instances, perspectives and approaches. Sociologically speaking it means that we register the movement of the discipline from its early focus on health as a biological given to a late twentieth century preoccupation with technical understandings of disease, illness and sickness. One way to register this movement is to see how the biological, biomedical and the biopolitical might concede some ground to the biosocial. Another way to see the same movement is to pitch the biomedical in relation to different alternate medical epistemologies and alternate territories of social suffering and powers of sickness. We will use both these ways and finally arrive at a confluence of illness and narratives to evaluate the textures of illness and its subjective experiences at the level of language, culture and ordinary existence. It is at this level of illness narratives that we can see the imbrication of the biomedical and the biosocial by noticing the actual moral concerns involved in the simple aim of gaining health. Summing up: we start with the select concepts of health, disease, illness and sickness and follow the polythetic connections between them in relation to the ideas of the normal and the pathological. We follow that up with a theoretical and ethnographic discussion on political biology, biopolitics, biological citizenship and the biosocial. We then move to the third section on the ontological multiplicity of the biomedical clinic in relation to alternate medical epistemologies and territories. Finally, we end with a section on illness and narratives that would deepen the discussions of the earlier three sections and would also enable us to recognize the ethnographic actuality of the medical contemporary.

The City and Urban Perspectives

Studying the city has been one of the most rapidly growing fields in Sociology and Social Anthropology. With the underlying notion that most of the world’s population is currently living in urban conditions or will do so has prompted this focus to develop under themes that address the city both in its contemporary concerns and formations, and in historical terms as well. Encompassing the geopolitical expanse of the globe, sociological perspectives on the city have been crucial in understanding how the bulk of human life is now lived, whether in terms of the economy, the cultural, the political, the religious, the ecological, the aesthetic and more. The course will take the student through a rigorous understanding of how the city and the urban have been conceived of in sociology over time, what are the possible methodological approaches, and what theoretical perspectives direct studies of the urban. The course will develop through a detailed study of some of the most relevant themes in urban research. One of the main emphases will be a careful study of both Indian as well as global urban contexts.