The Anthropology of Kinship, Sex and Gender

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Nicholas Long OLD 6.14 and Dr Mary Montgomery OLD 6.11


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.

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 a diverse range of settings. 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', as well as exploring how the experiences of kinship, sex and gender vary according to the regimes of politics, law and materiality in which they are embedded. 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 feminist theory, queer theory, the anthropology of colonialism, cognitive science, and psychoanalysis.


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 material for discussion 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. After Kinship (2003); Chodorow, N. The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender and Culture (1999); Donnan, H. and Magowan, F. The Anthropology of Sex (2010); Levi-Strauss, C. The Elementary Structures of Kinship (1969); Moore, H. L. A Passion for Difference: Essays in Anthropology and Gender (1994); Schneider, D.  A Critique of the Study of Kinship (1984); Stone, L. Kinship and Gender: An Introduction (2006).


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 2015/16: 51

Average class size 2015/16: 13

Capped 2015/16: No

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information