Not available in 2016/17
AN469      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Amazonia

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Harry Walker OLD6.14


This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in Social Anthropology and MSc in Social Anthropology (Learning and Cognition). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

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 seminars in the LT.

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

Formative coursework

Students registered for Anthropology degrees will have the opportunity to 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 formative essays to the course teacher.

Indicative reading

Clastres, Pierre. 1987. Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology.

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 Amazonia.

Descola, Philippe. 1994. In the Society of Nature: A Native Ecology in Amazonia.

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 People.

Gregor, Thomas. 1985. Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian People.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1984. Tristes Tropiques.

Conklin, Beth. 2001. Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information