Spring 2024 - SA 474 D100

Cultures, Politics and Performances (A) (4)

Class Number: 2042

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Cristina Moretti
    Office Hours: By appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    Minimum 72 units including SA 101 or SA 201W.



From intimate dramas of everyday life to multi-media staging of political events, performances of various kinds infuse social/cultural/political relations among people(s), shape understandings of pasts, and evoke visions of futures. We explore contemporary work that engages questions generated by anthropologists, performance studies scholars, and artists.


In this course we will approach performance as a method for research and writing, and as a framework for thinking about culture and society. Our key questions will include: How does performance - from everyday enactments to the staging of larger events, public debates, and conflicts – play an integral part in people’s agency, social relations, and cultural and political practices? How does a performative lens help us observe, research, and write about power and resistance? And what critical and imaginative projects can we envision when combining sensory anthropology and anthropological studies of performance?

Assigned readings, class discussions, and exercises will center around three main themes. First, we will consider the role of performance for political power and social critique. Our readings will discuss public space as a complex performative arena and introduce us to practices of witnessing. Secondly, we will learn about performance as an ethnographic strategy and a framework for anthropological writing. Reviewing how anthropologists have used performance-based approaches to listen to and represent people’s stories, insights, and dilemmas will be our starting point for experimenting with our own writing. Thirdly, we will discuss how performances shape spaces and our embodied, multisensorial being in the world, and design performative walks that we can share with the class.


  • Presentation and discussion of readings (in groups) 20%
  • Observation and performative writing exercise 30%
  • Reading responses 35%
  • Attendance and participation in class exercises 15%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T20.01), and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10‐S10.05). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

The Sociology and Anthropology Student Union, SASU, is a governing body of students who are engaged with the department and want to build the SA community. Get involved!  Follow Facebook and Instagram pages or visit our website.



Required Reading will be available from the SFU library and/or Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html