Theoretical Perspectives in Social Anthropology - SE596

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) PROF J de Pina Cabral


Prerequisite: SE301 Introduction to Social Anthropology


Stage 3



This module aims to develop the anthropological imagination of Stage 3 students, that is, to instill the ability to apprehend theoretical issues and apply them with a critical and informed sense of difference in the human experience. The module is not a 'history of theory' survey; rather, it will proceed by means of a set of topics through which different theoretical approaches to the same ethnographic problem or issue have been explored. The module may be organised around a single theme that has long dominated anthropological discussions (such as 'the gift', hierarchy and scale, structure and agency etc.) which will be used as a lens through which to view theoretical discussions within social anthropology as well as its appropriations from other disciplines.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

24 hours


This module contributes:
BA Social Anthropology; Joint Honours; with a Language; with a Year Abroad

Method of assessment

50% Exam; 50% Coursework
Seminar Participation (10%)
Essay (40%)

Indicative reading

H.L. Moore and T. Sanders (eds), Anthropology in Theory: Issues in Epistemology. Blackwell Publishing 2006
J. Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object. Columbia University Press 2002
C. Bracken, Magical Criticism: The Recourse of Savage Philosophy. University of Chicago Press 2007
K. Sykes, Arguing with Anthropology: An Introduction to Critical Theories of the Gift. Routledge 2005
H. Miyazaki, The Method of Hope: Anthropology, Philosophy, and Fijian Knowledge. Stanford University Press 2004

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

8.1 Discuss the main theoretical schools to have affected social anthropology
8.2 Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the relationship between social anthropology and the disciplines from which it draws its theoretical sources including sociology, philosophy, political economy, and psychoanalytic theory
8.3 Understand the ways in which social anthropologists have used these theories in relationship to their ethnographic writings
8.4 Analyse theoretical positions critically, and to locate them in the appropriate intellectual schools of thought from which they originate
8.5 Analyse and communicate their understanding of anthropological texts in written and spoken contexts
8.6 Construct coherent and logical arguments, particularly in written form, which combine

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.