Not available in 2013/14
AN269      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Amazonia

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Harry Walker OLD6.14


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


Unless granted an exemption by the course teacher, students taking this course should have completed an introductory course in anthropology.

Course content

The course will introduce students to selected themes in the anthropology of Amazonia. It will provide a grounding in the ethnographic literature of the region while seeking to engage with current theoretical debates, highlighting their potential importance to the discipline of anthropology. Topics to be covered include history, myth and colonialism; indigenous social movements; sexuality and gender; cosmology and shamanism; trade and inter-ethnic relations; language and power; illness, well-being and death. Students will be encouraged to reflect on the broader relationship between ethnography and theory, to challenge common stereotypes of Amazonia and its inhabitants, and to explore ways in which the region has inscribed itself on the imagination of anthropologists and laypersons alike.


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

Ten hours of lectures and ten hours of classes in the Lent Term. Film screenings will also be held throughout the term.

Formative coursework

Students registered for Anthropology degrees will prepare tutorial essays on the subject matter of the course and receive feedback from their academic advisors. Students who are not registered for Anthropology degrees will be given the option of submitting essays to the course teacher and receiving feedback on them.

Indicative reading

Clastres, Pierre. 1987. Society Against the State: Essays in Political
Overing, Joanna. & Alan Passes (eds). 2000. The Anthropology of Love and
Anger: The Aesthetics of Conviviality in Native Amazonia.
Walker, Harry. 2012. Under a Watchful Eye: Self, Power and Intimacy in
Descola, Philippe. 1994. In the Society of Nature: A Native Ecology in
Gow, Peter. 2002. An Amazonian Myth and its History.
Fisher, William H. 2000. Rainforest Exchanges: Industry and Community on an
Amazonian Frontier.
Seeger, Anthony. 2004. Why Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian
Gregor, Thomas. 1985. Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian
Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1984. Tristes Tropiques.
Conklin, Beth. 2001. Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an
Amazonian Society.


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2500 words) in the LT.

The assessed essay must be between 2,000 – 2,500 words in length.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: 24

Average class size 2012/13: 12

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information