Anthropology of War and Peace

Course Info

Course Number/Code: 21A.217 (Fall 2004)
Course Title: Anthropology of War and Peace
Course Level: Undergraduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Department: Anthropology
Course Instructor(s): Prof. Hugh Gusterson
Course Introduction:
Syllabus Course Description

The normal syllabus for this class has been reorganized to focus primarily on the War in Iraq. As in previous years, the class still examines war in cross-cultural perspective, asking whether war is intrinsic to human nature, what causes war, how particular cultural experiences of war differ, and how war has affected American culture. In the first third of the semester, we will read accounts of wars ranging from headhunting in the rainforest to Medieval European war and contemporary war in Rwanda. The remainder of the class will focus on the American experience of war in Vietnam and Iraq. Having established Vietnam as a frame (albeit an ambiguous one) for what follows, we will look at American reactions to September 11, the debate for and against invading Iraq, the reporting in the media of war in Iraq, and recent accounts of the unraveling of that war. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed, and in the past students in the class have come from all across the ideological spectrum.

Course Requirements

The requirements for this course are one short paper and one longer paper preceded by a brief class presentation. The short paper will be on readings in the first third of the class. The longer paper will be on a topic, chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor, related to the War on Terror or the invasion of Iraq. Students will, in addition, be evaluated on the basis of their participation in class discussions and should come to class punctually, prepared to take part in discussion. Regular class attendance is expected. There will be no final exam.

CalendarCourse calendar.LEC #TOPICSkey dates1IntroductionPart 1: Theoretical Perspectives 2Is War "Natural"?3War and Sociobiology4Experiences of War and Violence I5Experiences of War and Violence II6-8Civil War and Genocide in Rwanda9Darfur10Reconciliation After War?First paper due 2 days after Lecture 10Part II: America at War11Vietnam I12After Vietnam13-14The First Gulf War15Media and the First Gulf War16September 1117For and Against Invading Iraq I18For and Against Invading Iraq II19Manufacturing Consent for War20Media and the War on Terror21Behind Enemy Lines22Abu Ghraib23Class Presentations24Class Presentations (cont.)Second paper due