Course Spotlight: Political Ethnography – The Politics of Daily Life

primus beerCourse Description

This graduate seminar will focus on the politics of the quotidian, the small events, phenomena, attitudes, and emotions of daily life, with the assumption that however apolitical they might seem to be on the surface, they might really be deeply political on levels we might not always be aware of. In other words, where do we situate the political realm? The seminar will also ask how can we relate these small events, phenomena, behaviors, and attitudes — politics writ small — to the larger political phenomena that interest us. Can we link the micro-world of daily existence and experience to the macro-world of both politics and political science? Moreover, and this is primarily a methodological question, how may we best accomplish this linkage? The course will be interdisciplinary in nature, and students from all fields of study will be welcome

Sample Readings

  • Nigel Barley, The Innocent Anthropologist: Notes From a Mud Hut
  • Brenda Chalfin, Neoliberal Frontiers: An Ethnography of Sovereignty in West Africa
  • James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed
  • Bob White, Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu’s Zaire

Enrollment Details

Political Science 919: Political Ethnography – The Politics of Daily Life
3 credits
W 3:30-5:25pm, 422 North Hall
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Michael Schatzberg is a professor in the department of Political Science and a former director of the African Studies Program. He has worked extensively on the DR Congo, as well as on Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda. His major teaching and research interests are in African politics, comparative politics, political culture, and qualitative methodology. In the past he has written on the politics of beer. One of his current research projects deals with the politics, economics, and culture of soccer in sub-Saharan Africa, while a second explores trans-historical patterns of governance in Africa.