The objective of this course is to take an in-depth look at the “Other”. We’ll think about and discuss the concept itself, hone in on the norms and techniques that have been used to identify and marginalize groups of people, and highlight some of the concrete roles “others” have played in the shaping of our communities.
From a historical perspective, the course will progress chronologically, discovering and discussing a history of the United States that is substantially different from what is often taught in secondary schools and preparatory classes, and yet equally valid from a scientific point of view, if not more so. Howard Zinn’s classic, A People’s History of the United States will be one of our reference points, as will some film, biographical sketches and other literary sources.
From a cross-cultural perspective, we will become acquainted with folks that tend to be “othered” in today’s societies, as well as with the different techniques, structures, institutions and norms that contribute to their identification as “other”. Students will be invited to conduct anthropological investigations: through critical use of advertising, political institutions, ethnography, film, literature, news media, social media data gathering, pop culture etc. you will isolate some of the techniques through which types of othering occur and are perpetuated.
Finally, a philosophical component will help us understand what the terms “other”, “otherness” and “othering” might mean for those who wish to use them: not only theorists, but also poets, playwrights and artists have contributed to our understanding of alterity and the human condition.
Coursework includes: some light reading in preparation for class (theory, poetry, prose and empirical studies); stimulating class discussion; a group “decoding” project (e.g., video, advert, visual analysis…), one 5 page research paper OR fictional work exploring our theme.