Course syllabus

Welcome to Culture and War, 7.5 credits

The course will be run by Sverker Finnström. Language of instruction is English. If you have any questions about the course content ahead of the course start, contact Sverker Finnström. For questions about admission etc., contact course administrator Angelika Holm.

Course start is Tuesday Aug 30 at 10.15-12.00

Note that session 2 will be held the same first week, Thursday Sept 1 at 10.15-12.00. Thereafter, sessions are scheduled for Tuesdays at 10.15-12.00, with a few exceptions. Scroll down for the complete schedule.

Already on Aug 29, at 14.15-16.00, we are happy to welcome you and all our new students to the Department of Cultural Anthropology & Ethnology. You will meet key functionaries of the department, and some professors and researchers, and you will learn more about the department, coming activities and the department’s research groups. The event will be bilingual, English and Swedish, and held over zoom.

Outcome: An anthropological perspective on the study of war

Using ethnographic work, the course documents the everyday processes that characterize, precede and succeed war or armed conflict. After completing the course, students will possess an in-depth understanding of a selection of contemporary wars and armed conflicts, which will help them:

  • Apply anthropological perspectives in the study of other wars and armed conflicts;
  • Broaden their understanding of culture and everyday life in times of war and armed conflicts, an understanding pertinent in humanitarian aid, journalism, and conflict resolution;
  • Relate local phenomena, such as changing gender roles, children and youth in war, lived vulnerabilities, and displacement, to global phenomena, such as media coverage, humanitarian and military intervention, and arms trade.

Before/between/during/after wars around the world

The below selection of four mandatory course books, by two female and two male authors, offers a regional and thematic distribution over four continents/countries: Asia/Cambodia, Europe/Ukraine, Africa/Uganda, and North America/the US. The Ukraine book takes place before and between wars, the Uganda book during war; the US and the Cambodia books after war.

Study plan, expectations, and examinations

Sessions 1-2 are conventional 2x45 min lectures that will introduce the students to the course, the reading, and course’s key arguments and concepts.

In preparing for sessions 1 and 2, students are to read the introductory chapters to all four books listed below, as well as Handelman's article (references below).

Sessions 3-9 most often consist of a lecture (first hour) and a seminar/group discussion (second hour). In the seminars students will discuss, in groups and in plenary, the literature they have read ahead of the class.

In preparing for sessions 3 and 4, students are to read the three articles listed below.

Participation in sessions 3-9 (lecture + seminar) is mandatory. Following the department’s policy, a student may be absent for no more than 25% of the combined lecture/seminar sessions during a course, that is, no more than two of sessions 3-9. More, any absence sessions 3-9 is to be compensated for in writing.

Written seminar responses, sessions 3-9

Based on the reading ahead of class, students are to submit under the Discussions tab in Studium responses to the readings, one day before each session, except for the two first sessions, numbers 1 and 2, and the last session, number 10. The responses (again, sessions 3-9 only), should be no more than 300 words.

Students should be guided in their responses by the reading prompts for each week, and discuss the themes posed in the reading prompt.

See the course web (Studium) for detailed reading prompts and seminar/session reading instructions.

Final review essay

On Oct 31, a final written review essay of some 3000 words (excluding references) is to be submitted under the Assignments tab in Studium. Students are to choose one of the four course books, discuss and/or review it with the help of the course’s other books and articles. Further essay instructions will be provided when the course starts.

Overview schedule:

30 Aug at 10.15-12.00: session 1, course introduction. Venue: Eng/16-0043 (English Park)

1 Sept at 10.15-12.00: session 2. Venue: Eng/2-K1028 (English Park)

6 Sept at 10.15-12.00: session 3                    

13 Sept at 10.15-12.00: session 4                    

20 Sept at 10.15-12.00: session 5                    

27 Sept at 10.15-12.00: session 6                    

3 Oct at 10.15-12.00: session 7               

11 Oct at 13.15-15.00: session 8               

18 Oct at 13.15-15.00: session 9               

25 Oct at 10.15-12.00: session 10/end

31 Oct at 10.00: deadline final review essay

Mandatory course literature, books:

Finnström, Sverker. 2008. Living with Bad Surroundings: War, history, and everyday moments in northern Uganda. Durham: Duke University Press.

Hinton, Alexander Laban. 2005. Why did they kill? Cambodia in the shadow of genocide. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sonevytsky, Maria. 2019. Wild music: Sound and sovereignty in Ukraine. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Wool, Zoë Hamilton. 2015. After war: The weight of life at Walter Reed. Durham: Duke University Press.

Mandatory course literature, articles:

Finnström, Sverker, and Carolyn Nordstrom. 2015. War: Anthropological Aspects, Historical Development of. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), edited by J. D. Wright. Oxford: Elsevier.

Handelman, Don. 2010. What is happening to the anthropological monograph? (The onslaught of the journal article). Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 17 (2):218-223.

Shweder, Richard A., and Les Beldo. 2015. Culture: Contemporary Views. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), edited by J. D. Wright. Oxford: Elsevier.

The books and the articles are all available as e-resources from the Uppsala University Library. Two books, by Finnström and Hinton, are also available as physical library copies, and all books are available from various (online) bookstores.

Rebel Attack. Painting by Omotex Prof Designer, 1998.

Rebel attack (northern Uganda). Painting by Omotex Prof Designer, 1998.