AN444      Half Unit
Investigating the Philippines - New Approaches and Ethnographic Contexts

This information is for the 2019/20 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 Social Anthropology and MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


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 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the LT. 

Formative coursework

Students may be required to prepare discussion material for seminars. Students will be expected to produce one essay in the LT. 

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course, these are an indicative 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, 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 summer exam period.

Students will be given clear guidance on how to prepare for the exam and should note that the format requires two topics to be covered from a choice of seven, allowing plenty of scope in topic choice. A revision session will be arranged in ST if requested by students. Students are also welcome to bring any individual questions to the course teacher in office hours. 

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills