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ANTHRO 119W: Cyborg Anthropology

What does it mean to claim we are all cyborgs ¿ a hybrid of human and machine? Cyborgs have long captured the popular imagination of people around the world, appearing in various forms of media including films, books, and video games. In these instances, cyborgs are typically imagined as futuristic entities, portrayed as products of anticipated technological advancements yet to come. This course takes a different approach, employing the cyborg as a framework to understand human existence and experience across space and time, and explore the relationship between the body, culture, and technology. Drawing from anthropology and other relevant fields, this course emphasizes how humans and tools co-construct each other, blurring the boundaries between natural and artificial, human and machine. The first section of the course will present different theoretical perspectives for understanding human-machine interactions and relationships. In the second section, we will spend each week examining more »
What does it mean to claim we are all cyborgs ¿ a hybrid of human and machine? Cyborgs have long captured the popular imagination of people around the world, appearing in various forms of media including films, books, and video games. In these instances, cyborgs are typically imagined as futuristic entities, portrayed as products of anticipated technological advancements yet to come. This course takes a different approach, employing the cyborg as a framework to understand human existence and experience across space and time, and explore the relationship between the body, culture, and technology. Drawing from anthropology and other relevant fields, this course emphasizes how humans and tools co-construct each other, blurring the boundaries between natural and artificial, human and machine. The first section of the course will present different theoretical perspectives for understanding human-machine interactions and relationships. In the second section, we will spend each week examining various types of technological embodiments. Specific technologies explored include smartphones and wearables; biohacking and prostheses; virtual reality; and artificial intelligence. And in the last section, we explore the tensions between narratives of technological pessimism and optimism, comparing the ways different individuals and communities perceive and evaluate emergent technologies' consequences for society, now and in the future. This course will provide students with the opportunity to conduct limited, small-scale ethnographic fieldwork on human-machine interactions. The data collected during these ethnographic exercises will inform the in-class presentation and final paper for the course.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-SI
Instructors: Navarro, A. (PI)
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