Instructor: Marina Welker
This seminar develops an ethnographic approach to projects aiming to improve the human condition. Our object of study – development, humanitarianism, and the will to improve – is defined capaciously to allow for the study of projects ranging in orientation from politically conservative to progressive and revolutionary; from religious to secular; and from the global South to the global North. Whether we are studying construction megaprojects or hygiene lessons, programs for preserving tradition or introducing modernity, climate change mitigation efforts or truth commissions, we will explore ethnographically the actors, targets, explicit motives, practical techniques, and intended and unintended consequences. Our aim will be to link the micropolitics of lived experience and intersubjective relations to the macropolitics that structure and enable improvement projects.