Not available in 2015/16
AN444      Half Unit
Investigating the Philippines - New Approaches and Ethnographic Contexts

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Fenella Cannell OLD6.07


This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, 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.

The course is also available to MPhil Anthropology students where recommended by their supervisors, normally as part of the pre-fieldwork preparation year. This course may be taken as an outside option by master's students from other departments, as the regulations permit. It may also be taken by MPhil students from other departments as the regulations permit and with the agreement of the lecturer.


Graduates taking this course will normally have taken or be taking a foundational course in anthropology. However, topics may be of interest to those in several disciplines. Exemptions may therefore be sought from the lecturer, e.g. for students external to the department, who wish to explore what anthropology can bring to bear on their own fields.

Course content

This course offers the chance to look at the ethnography of one country in more detail than is usual for regional courses. It considers topics taken from the ethnography of the lowland and highland Philippines, with a focus on exciting new high quality writing, drawing on the recent rennaissance in Philippine Studies. The course will balance works by expert non-Filipino ethnographers with the new writing of 'native ethnographies' by Filipino scholars resident both in the Philippines themselves and in the US.

The course will be framed within the colonial, religious and social history of the archipelago, and will consider both new interpretations of Philippine history, and topics on contemporary social issues, as well as using classic works on the Philippines. Teaching each week will normally be organised around the reading of one outstanding ethnography, allowing students to look closely at particular cases. Topics in any year are likely to be drawn from the following list (although obviously only ten topics can be offered in one year) ; Migration, 'mail-order' brides, and the Philippine diaspora ; New religious movements: Philippine colonialism and the processes of conversion: Healing, spirit possession, midwifery and local medicine: The contemporary Catholic Church; Violence in the Philippines; Ecology, landscape and environmental politics: Kinship and its transformations; Gender, Philippine queer theory and Philippine transvestitism: Ritual, drama and local performance traditions: Philippine architecture and material culture.: Philippine cinema: Colonial politics, tribal politics and issues of self-representation: Magic, sorcery and "anitismo"; Tourism, symbolic economies and the impact of international capitalism.


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

Formative coursework

Students may be required to prepare discussion material for seminars.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course, these are a selection: Michell Rosaldo, Knowledge and Passion;Vicente Rafael, Contracting Colonialism; Fenella Cannell, Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines; Sally-Ann Ness, Where Asia Smiles; Heather L Claussen, Unconventual Sisterhood; M F Manalansan, yes"> Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora; Vicente Rafael, White Love and Other Events in Filipino History; Nicole Constable, Maid to order in Hong Kong; Albert Alejo, Generating Energies in Mount Apo.


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

Two-hour examination in ST (100%) for MSc students. MPhil/PhD students may be asked to complete an essay on a topic from the course, as advised by their supervisors.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2014/15: 2

Average class size 2014/15: 2

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information