Introduction to Social Anthropology
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 01 July 2022
07 October 2021
Requisites for this module
BA LL36 Social Anthropology,
BA LL3P Social Anthropology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL6P Social Anthropology (Including Placement Year),
BA LL37 Social Anthropology with Human Rights,
BA LL38 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL39 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Placement Year)
This module introduces students to the discipline of social anthropology, its history, methods, and theories. The focus is on the study of human cultural diversity and social organization, through a critical awareness of the ways anthropologists theorise "culture" and "society". There will be some sessions on human evolution and how that can help us study of contemporary societies and, in particular, human variation.
Students will encounter a range of ethnographic and case study materials, learning about witchcraft, potlatch ceremonies in North America, and the aesthetics of nomadic peoples, to choose just a few examples. Students will furthermore learn about anthropological approaches to gender, ethnicity, race, and kinship and develop a critical awareness of the ways in which culture - be it our own or that of others - can be studied.
This module introduces students to the discipline of social anthropology, its history, methods, and theories. The focus is on the study of human cultural diversity and social organisation, through a critical awareness of the ways anthropologists understand “culture” and “society”. Students will encounter a range of anthropologist theorists and ethnographic case study materials, learning about hunter gather societies in Africa, the way Trobriand Islanders understand conception, the politics surrounding arranged and love marriages, and varied ways communities experience and deal with illness. Students will learn about anthropological approaches to globalisation, gender, sexualities, family, and kinship and develop a critical awareness of the ways in which culture – be it our own or that of others – can be studied.
Students will be able to:
- define, explain, and apply the terms and concepts that anthropologists use to study and discuss cultures and societies
- demonstrate knowledge of different cultural practices and interpret such practices in relation to its context (history, politics, economics, and beliefs)
- demonstrate new perspectives on one’s own cultural assumptions and attitudes
- think critically about readings in relation to one’s life experiences
- discern global power relations and the intricate ways in which we become part of global networks
Lecture 1 - week 2 Introduction: What is Anthropology?
Lecture 2 - week 3 Malinowski and Participant Observation
Lecture 3 - week 4 Culture and its Discontents
Lecture 4 - week 5 Civilisation, a Dangerous Idea?
Lecture 5 - week 6 Blood and the Ties that Bind
Lecture 6 - week 7 Identity versus Identification
Lecture 7 - week 8 Authority and Power
Lecture 8 - week 9 Reason and Rationality, Just How Universal are They?
Lecture 9 - week 10 (Employability session)
Lecture 10 - week 11 Class Test
Topic 11 - week 16 Meaning of Progress
Topic 12 - week 17 Food and Culture
Topic 13 - week 18 Disease, Illness, and Healing
Topic 14 - week 19 Art and Aesthetics
Topic 15 - week 20 Art and Aesthetics continued
Reading Week - week 21
Topic 16 - week 22 Social Inequality (Caste and linguistics)
Topic 17 - week 23 Politics, Law and Empire
Topic 18 - week 24 Anthropology of Development
Topic 19 - week 25 Applied Anthropology
Revision Sessions –
Full Year Modules – Week 31 and 32
As there are still restrictions related to COVID-19 in place, some of the teaching on most modules will take place online. Most modules in Sociology are divided into lectures of around 50 minutes and a class of around 50 minutes. Some are taught as a 2hr seminar, and others via a 50-minute lecture and 2-hr lab. For the majority of modules the lecture-type content will be delivered online – either timetabled as a live online session or available on Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities before your class each week. Most classes labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face (assuming social distancing allows this).
Please note that you should be spending up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 32 hours in total for four 30-credit modules)
While restrictions related to COVID-19 are still in place, much of the teaching on all our modules will take place online. All lecture-type content will be available via Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities each week.
This module SC107-4-FY will include a range of activities to help you and your teachers to check your understanding and progress. These are: An essay, an in class test, a CV and cover letter, and another essay.
The lecture-type videos provide an overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, while the classes will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further. The weekly classes will take place on Zoom or face-to-face (should this be deemed safe). You are strongly encouraged to attend the classes as they provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students. The classes will be recorded and available for you to watch or listen again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that classes may be divided into small break-out groups on Zoom and these will not be routinely recorded.
In addition to your timetabled hours for this module, you should aim to spend up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.).
This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Class test (week 11)
||CV and Cover letter (Employability)
||1440 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Sandya Hewamanne, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Jason Sumich, email: email@example.com.
Professor Sandya Hewamanne, Dr Jason Sumich
email: socugrad (Non essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create the full email address)
No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 38 (95%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
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