Advanced Theory of Social Anthropology

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jason Hickel OLD 5.07 and Dr Harry Walker OLD 6.14


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 with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students should have a substantial background in Social Anthropology.

Course content

The aim of the course is to train students to look critically at the theoretical implications of anthropological approaches by examining their origins, their strengths and their critique. The content of the course is dependent in large part on the interests and expertise of the current teaching staff. Current topics include theories language and culture; power and governmentality; subjectivity, phenomenology and psychoanalysis; emotions and the senses; and theories of practice.


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 weekly classes and to write short commentaries on the required readings for each week. 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

F Saussure, Course in General Linguistics; F Boas, Anthropology and Modern Life; Clifford & Marcus, Writing Culture; M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish; J Scott, Seeing Like a State; B Latour, We Have Never Been Modern; I Hallowell, Culture and Experience; J Butler, The Psychic Life of Power; S Ortner, Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject; H Moore, The Subject of Anthropology: Gender, Symbolism and Psychoanalysis; M Jackson, Paths Towards a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry. A detailed reading list is provided at the beginning of the course.


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: 36

Average class size 2012/13: 12

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information