Ethnographies 1 - SE617

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 15 (7.5) DR M Hodges


Pre-requisite for BA Social Anthropology: SE 301 Introduction to Social Anthropology

Co-requisite for BA Social Anthropology programmes: SE588 Advanced Social Anthropology I: Power and Economy (Autumn term); SE587 Ethnographies 2 (Spring term), SE589 Advanced Social Anthropology II: Religion and Cosmological Imagination (Spring term).

Pre-requisites for BSc Anthropology programme: SE301 Introduction to Social Anthropology.





The focus of this module is the intensive investigation of the canonical form in which research in social anthropology has been disseminated, the ethnography. The reading list for the module therefore consists exclusively of professional ethnographic monographs of varying thematic and regional focus.
Students will be expected to come to seminars with notes from their reading and will be encouraged to discuss that reading and to relate it to wider anthropological issues raised or implied by the authors of the ethnographies.
Considerable time will be spent, particularly in the earlier seminars, on instruction about how to read an ethnography and what goes into writing it. This might include how to examine its implicit (as opposed to explicit) theoretical assumptions; how to place it within the historical development of the discipline; how to evaluate its empirical investigation of particular theoretical problems; how to evaluate the relationship between description and analysis; how to evaluate its contribution to particular issues and topics within social anthropology; and the examination of its structure, presentation and ability to communicate an understanding of a social and cultural group through the written word.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

The module is comprised of: 6 1-hour lectures + 6 2-hour seminars, i.e., 18 contact hours
For each seminar, students will be expected to devote 10 hours to independent study of the ethnographic texts detailed in the reading list, i.e. a total of 40 hours; and further 2 hours for seminar preparation, i.e. a total of 12 hours.
For completion of the assessed research project at the end of the autumn term, students will be expected to devote 40 hours of independent research and study, and a further 24 hours of writing up their findings.
For preparation for the final unseen examination in the summer term, students will be expected to devote a further 16 hours.
The total number of contact and study hours for students on the course will be 150 hours
The module thus combines structured lecture periods, semi-structured seminars, and scope for individual exploration of the module's subject matter, ensuring that achievement of the learning outcomes is a collaborative product of the content and facilitation supplied by the lecturer and the initiative of individual students.


BSc: Anthropology; BA: Social Anthropology; Joint Honours; with a Language; with a Year Abroad

Method of assessment

60% coursework and 40% unseen exam
The coursework comprises:
- Contribution to seminar discussion (15%) that will be calculated according to the seminar leader's assessment of (a) the student’s overall contribution to discussion, and (b) a seminar presentation. These two components are equally valued and weighted. Sufficient guidance and support is provided for students to achieve the threshold LO (pass) but there is scope for differential achievement by individual students above that level.
- Assessed ethnographic project (45%) that will represent a combination of independent library research and individual fieldwork on the University campus, in Canterbury, or in Kent more widely. Projects must be 2500 words in length (excluding bibliography)

The subject matter of this module is based on exploration, analysis and synthesis of a range of appropriate approaches to anthropological research and the forms of representation, and is therefore best suited to assessment methods that evaluate and reward individual research.

Preliminary reading

Bourgois, P. and J. Schonberg (2009) Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Emerson, R. et al. (2011). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: Chicago UP
Jackson, M. (2000) At Home in the World. Durham: Duke University Press.
Narayan, K. (2012) Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Navaro-Yashin, Y (2012) The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Post-War Polity. Durham: Duke University Press.
West, P. (2012) From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

8.1 demonstrate critical understanding of the contents of a number of ethnographic texts
8.2 identify the authors of specific ethnographic texts and indicate when and where the fieldwork described in the text was undertaken, as well as their conceptual and methodological background of problem-solving
8.3 relate specific texts to general theoretical anthropological topics, for example to the analysis of structural and political violence; social and economic inequalities; globalisation and consumption; and mobility, migration and identity
8.4 demonstrate knowledge of the methods of research specific to the discipline of anthropology and illustrate them with reference to the studied local, regional, and global ethnographies
8.5 critically relate their reading for this module to wider conceptual and ethical concerns in social anthropology, and the broader relationship between anthropological fieldwork and ethnographic writing
8.6 relate the dilemmas faced by authors of the reading for this module to the challenges they themselves face in their ethnographic projects

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