The Anthropology of Kinship, Sex and Gender

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Rita Astuti OLD 6.11 and Dr Nicholas Long


This course is compulsory on the BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Undergraduates should have completed an introductory course in Social Anthropology unless granted exemption by the course teacher

Course content

This course provides an examination of the cultural frameworks and social aspects of kinship systems, gender roles, personhood and human sexuality, analysed through ethnographic examples from diverse cultures; it aims to equip students with the analytical tools to engage in theoretical debates concerning core concepts such as 'kinship', 'marriage', 'gender', 'sex', 'the person', and the relationship between 'nature' and 'culture'. The course charts the history of anthropological debates on kinship, relatedness, sex and gender, and familiarises students with a range of contemporary approaches to these themes, placing ethnographic materials into a critical dialogue with recent developments in gender theory, queer theory, the anthropology of colonialism, psychoanalysis, and cognitive anthropology.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion material for presentation in the classes and are required to write assessment essays. Anthropology students taking this course will have an opportunity to submit a tutorial essay for this course to their personal tutors. For non-Anthropology students taking this course, a formative essay may be submitted to the course teacher.

Indicative reading

Carsten, J. (ed) Cultures of Relatedness (2000); Carsten, J. After Kinship (2003); Donnan, H. and Magowan, F. The Anthropology of Sex (2010); Fox, R. Kinship and Marriage (1967); Levi-Strauss, C. The Elementary Structures of Kinship (1969); MacCormack, C. & Strathern, M. (eds) Nature, Culture and Gender (1980); Moore, H. L. Feminism and Anthropology (1988); Ortner, S. Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture (1996); Schneider, D.  A Critique of the Study of Kinship (1984).


Exam (70%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (15%, 2500 words) in the MT.
Essay (15%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: 28

Average class size 2012/13: 15

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information