European Societies - SE601

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5)


Prerequisite: SE301 (Introduction to Social Anthropology) or equivalent I level course (equivalence to be determined by the module convenor).





‘European Societies’ surveys the social anthropology of contemporary Europe, with a focus on Western European urban and rural societies. The module explores changes in European societies since the end of the Cold War, including conflict related to the reorganisation and ‘fortification’ of Europe’s southern and eastern borders. We read ethnographies exemplifying contemporary approaches to studying industrial and post-industrial societies. We critically review key debates in the study of community and identity politics; nationalism and ethnic conflict; borders, migration and transnationalism; tradition, modernity, and heritage; tourism; industrial and post-industrial work; new religious movements; and biosocialities. A further focus is interrogation of the concept of ‘Europe’ itself, through analyzing the process of ‘Europeanization’ within the EU, and issues raised by the financial crisis; and through presenting ethnographic vantage points from which students can rethink the idea of ‘Europe’ for themselves. The module includes a critical history of anthropological study of Europe and the Northern Mediterranean, with special attention to the role of the University of Kent in the development of the regional literature. It is designed to be accessible to anthropology students, and those interested in European studies more generally.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

12 Lectures and 12 Seminars


This module contributes:
BA Social Anthropology (inc. BA Social Anthropology with language programmes and joint programmes), BSc Anthropology

Method of assessment

50% Coursework 50% Exam

Indicative reading

Asad, T., J. Fernandez, M. Herzfeld, A. Lass, S.R. Rogers, J. Schneider and K. Verdery. ‘Provocations of European Ethnology’, American Anthropologist 99(4):713–30, 1997.
Berdahl, D. 1999. Where the World Ended: Re-Unification and Identity in the German Borderland. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Davis, J. 1977. People of the Mediterranean: an Essay in Comparative Social Anthropology. London: Routledge.
Goddard, V.J., J. Llobera, and C. Shore (eds), 1994. The Anthropology of Europe: Identities and Boundaries in Conflict, Oxford: Berg.
Kockel, U., Craith, M.N. and Frykman, J. (eds), 2012. A Companion to the Anthropology of Europe. Oxford: Wiley.
Macdonald, S. (ed) 1993. Inside European Identities: Ethnography in Western Europe. Oxford: Berg.
Navaro-Yashin, Y. 2012. The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Post-War Polity. Durham: Duke University Press.
Pina-Cabral, J. and J.K. Campbell (eds.) 1992. Europe Observed. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
Rabinow, P. 1999. French DNA: Trouble in Purgatory, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rapport, N. (ed) 2002. British Subjects: An Anthropology of Britain. Oxford: Berg.
Shore, C. 2000. Building Europe: The Cultural Politics of European Integration. London: Routledge.
Silverstein, P. 2004. Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should:
-be conversant in the main themes and trends of the anthropology of European societies
-have cultivated an in-depth critical understanding of the historical depth and cultural diversity of a number of Western European societies in both urban and rural contexts, and at a regional and national level
-have acquired a critical understanding of the historical development of those societies
-be able to apply anthropological insights to contemporary political, social, and economic developments in the European context e.g. nationalism and conflict; the socio-cultural impact of new technologies; the development and consequences of tourism within Europe; the heritage industry; the European Union; and to develop awareness of the strengths and limitations of these insights compared to other disciplinary perspectives on Europe
-understand the impact of study of industrial and post-industrial European societies on anthropological methods
-be knowledgeable about key theoretical contributions of Europeanist anthropologists to the wider discipline and their leading role in shaping wider anthropological debates and disciplinary reflexivity
-be able to analyse and communicate their understanding of anthropological texts in both written and spoken form
-be able to construct coherent and logical arguments, particularly in written form, which combine theoretical writings with the discussion of ethnographic data.

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