Ethnicity and Nationalism - SACO9910

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 7 15 (7.5) Dimitrios Theodossopoulos checkmark-circle


Ethnicity' and 'nationalism' are matters of contemporary urgency (as we are daily reminded by the media), but while the meanings of these terms are taken for granted, what actually constitutes ethnicity and nationalism, and how they have been historically constituted, is neither clear nor self-evident. This module begins with a consideration of the major theories of nationalism and ethnicity, and then moves on to a series of case studies taken from various societies around the world., and then moves on to examine a number of other important concepts—indigeneity, 'race', hybridity, authenticity, 'invention of tradition', multiculturalism, globalization—that can help us appreciate the complexity and dynamics of ethnic identities. The general aim of the module is to enable and encourage students to think critically beyond established, homogenous and static ethnic categories.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Independent Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150


MA Social Anthropology pathways, MSc/MA Environmental Anthropology

Method of assessment

Essay, 2,000 words (50%)
Anthropological diary 2500 words (50%)

Re-assessment methods: 100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities. London & New York: Verso Books.

Banks, M. (1996). Ethnicity: Anthropological Constructions. London: Routledge.

Comaroff John and Jean Comaroff. (2009). Ethnicity, Inc. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and Nationalism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Hobsbawm, E. and T. Ranger (eds) (1983). The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hylland-Erikssen, T. (1993). Ethnicity and Nationalism. London and Boulder Colorado: Pluto Press.

Wade, P. (1997). Race and ethnicity in Latin America. London: Pluto Press.

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Critically apply anthropological theories of nationalism and ethnicity in the presentation of information and argument.

8.2 Introduce signal concepts in the anthropological analysis of ethnicity, nationalism and identity.

8.3 Examine the evolution of anthropology's approach to these and related concepts, including race, indigeneity, hybridity and invention of tradition.

8.4 Present case studies through which these concepts can be thought, analysed and critiqued.

8.5 Develop a nuanced comparative perspective to evaluate ethnic identity-making using both ethnographic and historical materials.

8.6 Investigate the emergence of national modes of identification out of various pre-national social and cultural formations.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Think critically in anthropological terms about the emergence of nationalism out of other forms of collective organisation.

9.2 Locate contemporary anthropology's relation to questions of ethnicity, nationalism and identity within a developing historical trajectory.

9.4 Present ideas systematically and cogently both orally and in writing.

9.4 Critically comprehend and assimilate texts written for a professional audience.

9.5 Interact with his/her peers and their seminar leaders in the exchange of ideas, addressing current debates about ethnicity and nationalism.

9.6 Engage in original library research to provide critical arguments in support of particular assignments.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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