Anthropology 539
Consumption
Wednesdays 2-4
210 WH 
 

Krisztina Fehérváry
Office: 234-B WH                                       
office hours: Mon 2-4, or by appt
fehervary@umich.edu                                                                   
 
 
            This course is designed to provide an overview of some of the most salient issues for understanding consumption in anthropological research today. Once a marginalized topic in anthropology, the study of “consumption” per se makes little sense in a world where it is difficult to conceive of an anthropological topic that can avoid engagement with commodified material cultures and related economies, networks, cultural meanings and social organizations. The study of consumption today carries on under various rubrics, from studies of material culture and commercial media, to commodity chain analyses and biopolitics. In addition to providing methodological preparation for fieldwork, the readings to be discussed will provide theoretical grounding in basic issues and questions as well as forays into more recent developments. Topics to be covered include: commodity, gift, body, shopping, provisioning, sacrifice, class, brand, image, media, value, morality, materiality.
 
This is a seminar; active discussion and reflection is expected of all participants. In addition to discussion, the requirements are of three sorts: (1) DOING THE REQUIRED READING. (2) A brief response to the week’s readings (not to exceed 1 page), posted to C-tools by 9 pm Tuesday before the day of class. These are informal and will not be graded (they will be recorded, however).  (3) Depending on class size, each student will present on readings over the course of the semester. A sign-up sheet will be circulated soon after the initial class meeting. Each student will also present in the final weeks on their final papers. (4) A final paper of approximately 15-20 pages, will be due April 28. You are encouraged to write your final paper on a theoretical question or research topic that will advance your dissertation work.