AN436      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Development

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Katy Gardner OLD 5.07


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in African Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Health, Community and Development, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies 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 explores how anthropologists have evaluated, criticised and contributed to development. Focussing on both 'Big D' development (schemes of improvement or projects) and 'little d' development (change which occurs as the result of economic growth or modernisation) the course shows how anthropological insights have been used to change practices from within as well as critique development from the outside. From anthropological work which seeks pragmatic engagement to that which deconstructs development as an oppressive and power laden discourse, the course aims to give students a broad background to the field. Topics covered include the role of the state, participation and farmer first approaches; gender and development; development as discourse and 'aidnography'; neo liberalism and global capital; corporate social responsibility; markets and micro credit; and the relationship between 'tradition' and modernity. Throughout, the course will draw upon a broad range of ethnographic examples.



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

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion material for presentation in the seminars.

Indicative reading

Scott; J. (1998) Seeing it Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition have Failed; Ferguson, J (1990) The Anti Politics Machine: depoliticisation and bureaucratic power in Lesotho; Ferguson, J (1999) Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Life on the Zambian Copperbelt;Tania Li (2007) The Will to Improve: Governmentality and the Practice of Politics; K Gardner, Discordant Development: Global Capitalism and the Struggle for Connection in Bangladesh (2012); K Gardner and D Lewis, Anthropology, Development : Twenty First Century Challenges (2014); R D Grillo and R L Stirrat, Discourses of Development: anthropological perspectives; D Mosse, Cultivating Development: an ethnography of aid policy and practice (2004), London, Pluto Press; Cornwall, A., Harrison, E., and Whitehead (2007) Feminisms in Development: Contestations, Contradictions and Challenges; Escobar, A. 1995 Encountering Development; Mosse, D ed. (2011) Adventures in Aidland; Rajak, D. (2011) In Good Company: An Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility; Karim, L (2011) Microfinance and its discontents

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


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

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2014/15: 17

Average class size 2014/15: 11

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information