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SA3066   Sorcery and Conspiracy: The Anthropology of Alternate Realities

Academic year(s): 2019-2020

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF Level 9

Semester: 1

Planned timetable: Lecture - Monday, Wednesday (2pm)

This module provides students with the opportunity to explore systems of understanding about the world that challenge the modernist discourse of rationality. Whether in the context of witchcraft and sorcery accusations or of Internet-fuelled conspiracy theories, the theme of hidden powers affecting human lives and events is nearly universal. In this module we will apply the comparative method in anthropology to ask the following questions: Under what historical, economic, and political conditions do occult narratives emerge? How do they manifest in particular ways for particular societies? How can notions of invisible power be analysed ethnographically, when much of the toolkit of anthropology is based in empirical methods of observation? Is anyone really as rational as they think they are, or are apparently irrational systems of explanation consistent with other methods people have developed for making haphazard events more intelligible to themselves?

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 1 hour lecture (11 weeks), 2 hour seminar (11 weeks)

Scheduled learning hours: 57

Guided independent study hours: 241

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: 3-hour Written Examination = 50%, Coursework = 50%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 50%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 50%

Re-assessment: 3-hour Written Examination = 50%, Coursework = 50%


Module coordinator: Dr M A Demian
Module teaching staff: Dr Melissa Demian
Module coordinator email