Folklore and the Social Sciences: Folklore and New Social Problems

FOLK-F 253 — Fall 2021 — Themester

Classroom-Office Building 203
Days and Times
01:10P-02:25P Monday and Wednesday
Course Description

What is a new social problem? Social problems are commonly defined as “conditions that disrupt or damage society” (Best 2019). Some social problems such as slavery, disease, colonialism, war, poverty, hunger, corruption, and racism have been recognized for relatively long periods and thus might be termed familiar or old social problems. Such problems continue to demand our attention, but we live in a time in which unprecedented, new challenges are also arising. This course focuses on such newer problems and it does so from the particular perspective of folklore studies and cultural anthropology.

As a group, we will work to document and assess aesthetic, expressive, customary, and communal responses to a range of emergent and vexing problems. Working together as a research team, we will investigate lay and expert knowledge within such contested and challenging areas as pervasive surveillance, the risks of artificial intelligence, the trade in living human tissues and organs, intellectual property and the right-to-repair, threats to biodiversity, geoengineering and climate change, farmer's rights, cybersecurity, corporate and media concentration, genetic engineering/synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and bioprospecting/biopiracy.

Students will choose particular problems of interest to explore and will discover how these problems intersect with, and are being addressed creatively by, particular communities and interest groups in the US and around the world.

For folklorists and anthropologists, common ground between the consideration of old and new social problems can be found in questions of resilience. The 2021 Themester, organized by the College of Arts and Sciences around the theme of Resilience, will provide us with a chance to explore the concept of resilience in social life and to take advantage of Themester programming.

Multiple course titles fall under this course number; choose section 22178 with Professor Jackson. This meets with ANTH-A 200.

This course fulfills an IUB GenEd S&H and a CASE S&H.

Instructor: Dr. Jason Jackson

Read an interview with Dr. Jackson