Advanced Social Anthropology 1 - SE618

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 15 (7.5) DR JR Mair


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

Co-requisite for BA Social Anthropology programmes: SE586 Ethnographies 1 (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 or the equivalent in Social Sciences or Humanities.





The module is a cross-cultural analysis of economic and political institutions, and the ways in which they transform over time. Throughout the term, we draw upon a range of ethnographic research and social theory, to investigate the political and conceptual questions raised by the study of power and economy. The module engages with the development and key debates of political and economic anthropology, and explores how people experience, and acquire power over social and economic resources. Students are asked to develop perspectives on the course material that are theoretically informed and empirically grounded, and to apply them to the political and economic questions of everyday life. The module covers the following topics: the relationship between power and authority; key concepts and theoretical debates in economic anthropology; sharing and egalitarianism; gift exchange; sexual inequality; violence; the nation state; money; social class; work; commodification; financialisation.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

The module is comprised of: 12 1-hour lectures + 12 1-hour seminars, i.e., 24 contact hours
For each seminar, students will be expected to devote 8 hours to independent study of the texts detailed in the reading list, i.e. a total of 96 hours.
For completion of the assessed essay at the end of the autumn term, students will be expected to devote 12 hours of independent study and writing.
For preparation for the final unseen examination in the summer term, students will be expected to devote a further 18 hours of independent study.
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

This module will be assessed by 50% coursework and 50% exam (a 2 hour unseen examination, answering 2 from a total of 8 essay question).
The coursework comprises:
- seminar participation score reflecting attendance and contribution to discussion (10%);
- an individual seminar presentation (10%), in which students will be asked to give a critical summary of the weekly reading for the seminars, marked against a standard scheme that will be included in the course outline.
- one assessed essay of 1,500 words (30%).

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

Preliminary reading

Appadurai, A. ed. (1986) The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge University Press
Carrier, J. ed. (2013) A Handbook of Economic Anthropology. Edward Elgar
Carrier, J and D. Kalb, eds (2015) Anthropologies of Class: Power, Practice and Inequality. Cambridge University Press
Gupta, A and A. Sharma eds. (2005) The Anthropology of the State: A Reader. Wiley-Blackwell
Hart, K, J.L. Laville, and A.D. Cattani eds. (2010) The Human Economy. Polity Press
Humphrey, C and S. Hugh-Jones, eds. (1992) Barter, Exchange, and Value: An Anthropological Approach. Cambridge University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

8.1 Be conversant with the key disciplinary themes and trends of the anthropology of power and economy
8.2 Have acquired a critical understanding of the historical development of those anthropological debates and theories
8.3 Be knowledgeable about the theoretical contributions of the anthropology of power and economy to the broader discipline of social anthropology
8.4 Have cultivated a critical understanding of the global and historical diversity, operation and experience of political and economic institutions
8.5 Be able to apply anthropological insights to current transformations of political and economic institutions

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