Ethnography and Theory: Selected Texts

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Harry Walker OLD 5.06B and Prof Matthew Engelke OLD 6.12


This course is compulsory 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 discusses important aspects of anthropological and sociological theory in relation to modern ethnographic texts. It ranges from the classical social theory by Marx, Durkheim and Weber to the most recent theoretical advances in the discipline. The course is intended to give students a sound grasp of central theoretical concepts and of their significance for empirical research.


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

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

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion material for presentation 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

R Aron, Main Currents in Sociological Thought; A Giddens, Capitalism and Social Theory; R Nisbet, The Sociological Tradition; L Coser & B Rosenberg, Sociological Theory: a Book of Readings; K Morrison, Marx, Durkheim, Weber; R Borofsky (Ed), Assessing Cultural Anthropology; C Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures; GW Stocking, Observers Observed; GW Stocking, Victorian Anthropology; B Malinowski Argonauts of the Western Pacific; R Benedict, Patterns of Culture; E E Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft oracles and magic among the Azande; V Turner, The Forest of Symbols; M Sahlins, Culture and Practical Reason; J Clifford The Predicament of Culture; M Engelke, Think like an anthropologist. Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course.


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 2016/17: 75

Average class size 2016/17: 16

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information