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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Undergraduate Course: Anthropological Theory (SCAN10022)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course covers some of the main changes in theory and ethnography, and the complex relationship between the two, since the late 1960s. The first half of the course, taught by Joost Fontein, explores the emergence of what can be loosely thought of as 'post-structuralist' anthropology. The first two topical lectures examine the contribution of two hugely significant post-structuralist thinkers, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, both of whose influence upon anthropological work continues to be profound, even four decades on. The third and fourth lectures explore how second wave feminism and postcolonialism, as broader social and political movements, coincided with, affected and were closely intertwined with the emergence of a post-structuralist anthropology that was preoccupied with fundamental questions of structure and agency, discourse and practice, subjectivity and embodiment, power and resistance, which with these great thinkers were critically engaged. The second half of the course, taught by Stefan Ecks, takes students through some of the continuing inspirations for anthropological theory, starting with the 'grand theories' of Karl Marx and Max Weber. Despite the fact that both these theorists wrote their works in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, they only began to influence anthropological theory since the 1960s.

The final two topical lectures deal with 'structuralism' before and after 'poststructuralism'. We first learn how structuralism was originally conceived by Claude LÚvi-Strauss, and then explore how Bruno Latour's work can be understood as a direct response to LÚvi-Strauss. The course ends with a summative overview of where anthropological theory now stands, and where it might go in the future. The course is intended to give students not only a grasp of the historical development of anthropological theory, but also a taste of what constitutes the cutting edge of anthropological theory today. It is a challenging but hugely rewarding course in which students' own first-hand reading of and creative engagement with complex theoretical thought is a central aim.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Anthropology courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 165 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 2-hour exam (70%), assessed coursework (20%) + Tutorial participation (10%)
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Anthropological Theory2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course, students will have a confident grasp of the main trends in anthropological theory that are influential today.
  2. They will have read a number of original writings by a range of theorists, and be capable of providing a critical account of anthropological theorists and the intellectual context in which they worked.
  3. They will be able to relate the application of those theories in existing ethnographic writing and be able to draw upon them in thinking about future ethnographic research.
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 50 minutes per week for 9 week(s).
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tom Boylston
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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