AN237      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Development

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Clara Devlieger OLD 6.08


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.

Course content

This course considers a range of contributions made by anthropologists to the analysis of development. It assesses the reconcilability of two divergent perspectives: development anthropology, with its corpus of writings by practitioners working on practical projects, and the 'anthropology of development', comprising a series of critiques of development theory and practice by anthropologists. It examines the historical background, showing how development and its discourses were made in the wake of the colonial encounter and exploring the role played by anthropologists in this process. Critiques of both state-planned and market-driven development are considered and weighed against the ethnographic evidence, and anthropological studies of development organisations, institutions and 'the aid industry' considered. The anthropology of planning and policy; actor-centred perspectives on development; NGOs and participatory approaches; microcredit and gender; and religion and development, are among the topics explored. Regional ethnographies used include those from various parts of Southern and West Africa, China, Latin America, South and South-East Asia.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of classes in the MT.

This course has a reading week in Week 6 of MT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion material for presentation in the classes based on the core ethnographies covered in the course. Formative work will include a mock exam question.  Towards the end of the term the students will also have the opportunity to answer a quiz on the key concepts covered in the course which will be marked by the course teacher.

Indicative reading

 K Gardner and D Lewis, Anthropology and Development: Twenty First Century Challenges;  Pluto Press, 2015; K Gardner, Discordant Development: Global Capitalism and the Struggle for Connection in Bangladesh (2012); Ferguson, J. 1990 The Ant-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticisation and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho; Cambridge University Press; Li, T, 2014 Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier; Karim, L., 2011 Micro-Finance and its Discontents: Women and Debt in Bangladesh; Elyachar, J. 2005; Markets of Dispossession: NGOs, the Market and the State in Cairo

Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course.


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

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2017/18: 33

Average class size 2017/18: 12

Capped 2017/18: No

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information