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ANTHRO 186: Culture and Madness: Anthropological and Psychiatric Approaches to Mental Illness (ANTHRO 286, HUMBIO 146, PSYC 286)

Unusual mental phenomena have existed throughout history and across cultures. Taught by an anthropologist and psychiatrist, this course explores how different societies construct the notions of "madness": What are the boundaries between "normal" and "abnormal", reason and unreason, mind and body, diversity and disease? nnOptional: The course will be taught in conjunction with an optional two-unit discussion section or engaged learning component.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ANTHRO 186N: The Most Rational People in the World

Humans, broadly construed, emerged as bipedal apes in the African mixed savanna-woodlands approximately two million years ago. From humble beginnings, humans have gone on to be become the ecologically dominant species in most biomes and grown to a global population in excess of seven billion. This dominance arises from a combination of features of the human organism including its extreme degree of behavioral flexibility and flexible social organization. The prima facie evidence of human evolutionary and ecological success raises a paradox with respect to recent work in economics and psychology which increasingly argues for pervasive irrationality in human decision-making in a wide array of behavioral contexts. How is it possible for an organism with such seemingly flawed software supporting decision-making to become the globally dominant species? We will use this contradiction as the launching point for understanding what rationality means in a broad ecological and cross-cultural context. What do we mean by `rationality¿? How do different disciplines conceive of rationality in different ways? Is there such a thing as a rationality that transcends cultural differences or is the very idea of rationality a cultural construction that is used to justify imperialism and other modes of paternalism? Are there systematic factors that promote or impede rational decision-making? The seminar will provide a gentle introduction to the formal approaches of decision theory which we will apply to an unusual array of topics centered on the subsistence and reproductive decisions of hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists, pastoralists, and agrarian peasants, in short, people living in face-to-face, subsistence societies. In addition to doing reading from a broad array of social and natural science disciplines around the topic of rationality, students will regularly engage in exercises to assess their own approaches to decision-making.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
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