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 available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development (Management), MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Gender, MSc in Law, Anthropology and Society, MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World and MSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

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

Indicative reading

Carsten, J. (ed), Cultures of Relatedness (2000); Carsten, J., After Kinship (2003); Donnan, H. & 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 (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: 17

Average class size 2012/13: 8

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information