Summer 2006

SOCS 628
Women Writing Culture

Ulysse,Gina Athena

06/26/2006 - 07/13/2006
Monday-Thursday 01:30 PM - 04:30 PM

Fisk Hall 404

This course considers the persistent impact of the interpretive turn in anthropology, which began with Clifford Geertz's claim, in The Interpretation of Culture, that culture is but a "web of meaning" and the ethnographer's research findings are but mere interpretations. This eventually spurred a moment in the theoretical trajectory of the discipline referred to as a "crisis of representation." How did this turn affect ethnographic writing and what it means to write culture? To explore this question, we will focus on how feminist interpretations of culture have reconsidered the ethnographer's role in/and the making of ethnography. By reading various ethnographic works in depth, we will explore the broader academic context of such issues as the gendered division of labor and the politics of knowledge production, relevance of Donna Haraway's assertion that all knowledge is situated, Catherine Lutz's discussion of theory as gendered within the context of Faye Harrison's analysis of academic relations of production. We will deconstruct feminist textual strategies that unpack issues of positionality, ethical dilemmas, and the politics of representation. Our emphasis will be on ethnographic writing that blurs genres, troubling the boundaries between humanities and social science. Some attention will be paid to scholars who turn to the arts to express a fuller range of their perceptions and interpretations. Our ultimate aim is to seriously question what it means to choose to write from a feminist perspective.

Texts for the course will include Ruth Behar's Translated Woman; Karen McCarthy Brown's Mama Lola; Marisol de la Cadena's Indigenous Mestizos; Donna Golstein's Laughter out of Place; Zora Neale Hurston's Tell My Horse; Carolyn Martin Shaw's Colonial Inscriptions; Rosario Montoya's Gender's Place; Anna Tsing's In the Realm of the Diamond Queen; and Mary Weismentel's Cholas and Pistachios.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Gina Ulysse (B.A. Upsala College; M.A., Ph.D. University of Michigan) is assistant professor of anthropology and African American studies. She is author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commericial Importing and Self-Making in Jamaica (forthcoming), and her many articles include "Cracking the Silence on Reflexivity: Negotiating Identities, Fieldwork and the Dissertation in Ann Arbor and Kingston," in Decolonizing the Academy: Diaspora Theory and African New World Studies, edited by Carol Boyce-Davies (Princeton: Africa World Press, 2003). Click here for more information about Gina Ulysse.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Lila Abu-Lughod, VEILED SENTIMENTS (University of California Press), Paperback

Ruth Behar, WOMEN WRITING CULTURE (University of California Press), Paperback

Donna Goldstein, LAUGHTER OUT OF PLACE (University of California Press), Paperback

Karen McCarthy-Brown, MAMA LOLA (University of California Press), Paperback

Bilinda Straight, WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF HOME (SUNY Press), Paperback

Kath Weston, THE FAMILIES WE CHOOSE (Columbia University Press), Paperback


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