ANTH 107. Forensics and Counterforensics
This double graded seminar begins with a provocation; forensics is not only the science of criminal detection, but rather a hybrid constellation of practices that links law and aesthetics, as well as politics and science. Starting from here, we will explore how forensic knowledge shapes the worlds we inhabit beyond criminal evidence, starting from the way we assess the value of human life, all the way to credit scores and profiles. Drawing from literature in anthropology, sciences and technology studies, and social theory, we will take a deep dive into our present forensic regimes and the ways in which the monopoly over the means of evidentiary representation in courtrooms and elsewhere is being challenged through "counterforensic" practices. Ultimately, our goal is to develop the conceptual, critical, and analytical skills to consider how the concept of forensics lies at the heart of debates around the meaning of "justice". Students will develop a semester-long project in which they will explore the dialectic between forensics and counterforensics through real world situations. The final product will be either a seminar paper or a multimodal project developed in conversation with the instructor. This class will be of interest to students concerned with law (including policing) and critical approaches to science and technology, as well as students in the sciences or other disciplines who might be interested in thinking about the relation between power and knowledge.
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