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

Undergraduate Course: Urban Anthropology (SCAN10074)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
This course provides an in-depth, critical engagement with anthropological research regarding cities.
Course description Despite the increasing scale and velocity of urban growth throughout much of the world in the past century, anthropologists have only recently begun to grapple with the complexity of urban social dynamics. Traditionally focused on remote and seemingly isolated communities, today an increasing number of anthropologists have joined scholars from other disciplines to explore different aspects of the social, political, economic and cultural dynamics of cities and the connections within and between urban areas. This course considers what an urban anthropology can bring to "classic" theories of the city by exploring the diverse ways in which people inhabit, experience, engage and imagine urban environments. In drawing on a variety of ethnographic contexts and theorizations of the city, the course demands a critical rethinking of cities as sites for understanding social inequalities, emerging aesthetics and cultural forms, and senses of place for people who move to and through cities. The course gives particular attention to the visual and material aspects of the city as a built landscape not only through monuments, architecture and city planning but also through modes of dress, artistic expression, and styles of individual and collective self-representation and performance, all of which contribute to the texture, materiality and feel of urban landscapes.
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Contribute to preparing students to participate in an effective and informed way in debates regarding the history of urban anthropology, the issues regarding human cultural difference in urban environments, and the relation between urban anthropology and the work of social anthropology more generally
  2. Have a substantive knowledge and understanding of a selection of important historical and social issues with regard to the development and use of concepts and technologies in the planning, governance, and representation of urban environments, and of the contending viewpoints and claims on these issues
  3. Identify and characterise key approaches from social anthropology, from other social science disciplines, and from interdisciplinary fields like sociology, urban planning, politics, architecture and science and technology studies to understanding and evaluating issues concerning urban anthropology as a sub-field, and identify advantages, problems and implications of these approaches
  4. Critically evaluate contributions to the academic and public debates on the study of cities in scientific, philosophical, and humanities-related inquiries in order to engage wider audiences regarding issues of human social and cultural difference
  5. Identify and evaluate a selection of techniques and procedures used in anthropological research in urban environments and their relation to the techniques and procedures of deployed in governance, planning, and urban development generally
Reading List
Low, Setha. 1999. Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Hannerz, Ulf. 1980. Exploring the City: Inquiries Towards and Urban Anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press

Amin, Ash and Nigel Thrift. 2002. Cities: Reimagining the Urban. Cambridge: Polity.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:

- obtaining and analysing evidence derived from complex urban environments;
- developing and supporting a line of argument derived from primary observation and the mastery of secondary materials from a range of social scientific disciplines,
- presenting information visually and orally,
- working effectively as part of a team.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Casey High
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Ayre
Tel: (0131 6)50 2010
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