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How have cultures throughout the world responded to changing economic, political, and environmental transformations? How have new world views emerged from highly charged cross-cultural encounters? And how have communities found innovative ways of resisting or modifying unwanted transformations in their 'ways of life'? In this subject, using theories of cultural change drawn from anthropology and cultural studies, we explore how communities, particularly in the global south, have coped with and creatively re-worked the demands of an often foreign-dominated market economy, with a particular focus on struggles around natural resource extraction and privitization. Paying special attention to what James C. Scott has called, the 'weapons of the weak', we explore the ways - both overt and subtle - that different societies have used symbolic practices, rituals and mythologies to accommodate, transform and mount resistance to the diverse agents and processes of global capitalism over the past 100 years. Case studies will be drawn from Africa, South America, North America, Eastern Europe and Asia.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- have a knowledge of the range and variety of ways in which non-Western societies have evolved and acculturated under the influence of western missionisation, colonialisation and imperial control;
- have mastered the principal anthropological approaches to the study of acculturation and theories of social change;
- have engaged in a critical assessment of the impact of western cultures on the non-Western world;
- have acquired a knowledge of the ethnographic and ethnological literature on Africa, south and South-East Asia, North and South America.
Last updated: 6 December 2019