Not available in 2019/20
AN474      Half Unit
Subjectivity and Anthropology

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Harry Walker OLD 5.06B


This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management and MSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Unless granted an exemption by the course teacher, students taking this course should have completed an introductory course in anthropology.

Course content

This course will explore the nature and formation of the self and of subjective experience. It will draw together a range of anthropological, psychological and philosophical approaches to subjectivity and the social and cultural phenomena that shape and condition it, attending both to the particulars of individual lives and settings and to more general, existential dimensions of the human condition. The course will be structured around engagements with three principal paradigms: psychoanalysis; phenomenology; and subjectivation. A key aim of the course will be to understand the strengths and limitations of these approaches for anthropological analysis as well as potential sites of convergence and divergence. Specific topics to be covered include the unconscious, dreams, illness and healing, embodiment, sound, intersubjectivity, interpellation, the feminist subject, and altered states of consciousness.


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

Ten hours of lectures and ten hours of classes in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Students registered for Anthropology degrees will submit a tutorial essay for this course to their academic advisers. Students who are not registered for Anthropology degrees will submit a formative essay to the course teacher.

Indicative reading

Hallowell, I. 1955. Culture and Experience. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Butler, J. 1997. The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Mahmood, S. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Biehl, J. et. al. 2007. Subjectivity: Ethnographic Investigations. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ortner, S. 2006. Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject. Durham: Duke University Press.

Jackson, M. 1989. Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Howes, D. (ed.) 1991. The Varieties of Sensory Experience. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Moore, H. 2007. The Subject of Anthropology: Gender, Symbolism and Psychoanalysis. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Turner, V. & E. Bruner (eds.) 1986. The Anthropology of Experience. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Wikan, U. 1990. Managing Turbulent Hearts: A Balinese Formula for Living. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Take home exam (90%) in the ST.
Class participation (10%) in the MT.

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