Anthropology of Creativity - ANTS7520

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module critically surveys anthropological approaches to creativity and creative expression—selected from research on creativity itself, and on the anthropology of art and literature (both oral and written). We explore three fields of creative practice as they relate to contemporary anthropology.

1) We review classic approaches to the anthropology of art, in both non-Western and Western contexts, with reference to selected cultural and artistic traditions and artworks. We assess recent breakthroughs which challenge the borders between artistic and ethnographic discourse, exploring how the ethnographic encounter can be rethought via dialogue with contemporary artists.

2) We review the anthropology of literature, and assess both pioneering forms of literary expression in the work of anthropologists, and the output of anthropological practitioners of literary fiction and poetry.

3) We examine how anthropology itself can be conceptualised as the creative expression of an encounter with others, lived experience, and the unknown, and explore the implications for anthropological modes of representation (including public anthropology).

Students have the option to develop a creative project during the module that builds on this training, and can submit both academic and practice-led creative anthropological research as their assessment.


Contact hours

Private Study: 128
Contact Hours: 22
Total: 150


This module is optional to the following courses:

• BSc Anthropology and associated courses
• BA Social Anthropology and associated courses

It is also available as an elective module

Method of assessment

Essay (2500 words) (50%)

Essay (2500 words) (50%) OR Creative Project (50%)

Reassessment: Like for like

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Be conversant in the main themes and trends of the anthropological literature on creativity and creative expression
2 Have acquired a selective critical understanding of the historical development of the anthropological literature on creativity and creativity expression
3 Have cultivated an understanding of the historical depth and cultural diversity of creative practices, in both Western and non-Western societies, and how anthropologists have approached their study
4 Situate and analyse from an anthropological perspective the topics of creativity, creative expression and the arts in relation to relevant social, and historical contexts; and to develop awareness of the strengths and limitations of such an approach compared to other disciplinary perspectives on creativity and creative expression
5 Be knowledgeable about key theoretical contributions of anthropologists working on creativity, art and literature to the wider social sciences
6 Understand the impact of key works in the anthropology of creativity on modes of representation
7 Analyse and communicate their understanding of anthropological texts on creativity in written form
8 Construct coherent and logical arguments, which combine theoretical writings with the discussion of ethnographic data.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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