Not available in 2020/21
AN240      Half Unit
Investigating the Philippines - New Approaches and Ethnographic Contexts

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Fenella Cannell OLD 6.07


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in Social Anthropology, Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Cape Town), Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Fudan), Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Melbourne) and Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Tokyo). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

This course is most suitable for second and third year students but interested first year external students may seek an exemption. Also available to General Course students.

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 classes in the LT.

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

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion material for classes/seminars. Students taking this course will be expected to produce one essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Selected/ indicative  texts: Renato Rosaldo Ilongot Headhunters; Vicente Rafael Contracting Christianity; Fenella Cannell Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines; Sally-Ann Ness Where Asia Smiles; Heather L. Claussen, Unconventual Sisterhood; J.Neil C. Garcia Philippine Gay Culture: the Last Thirty Years; M. F. Manalansan Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora; Vicente Rafael White Love and Other Events in Filipino History; Evelyn Tan Cullemar Babaylanism in Negros; Benito M Vergera Displaying Filipinos: Photography and Colonialism in Early 20th Century Philippines; Renaldo Clemena Ileto Pasyon and Revolution; K.F. Wiegele, Investing in Miracles: El Shaddai and the Transformation of Popular Catholicism in the Philippines; Nicole Constable Maid to Order in Hong Kong; Albert Alejo Generating Energies in Mount Apo: Cultural Politics in a Contested Environment; Catherine Ceniza Choy Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History; Esther C.M. Yau and Kyung Hyun Kim Asia/Pacific Cinema; Caroline S. Hau, Necessary Fictions; Philippine Literature and the Nation. Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Students will complete written work on one or more topics from the course, with a total word count of 3,000 words. Specific guidance and advice will be given during the course but for example, students may choose to pursue one topic in depth and with the use of additonal and external materials, or to write on two topics more closely related to the course work and course outline. Further guidance and a range of suggested topics and questions will be provided during the course.  

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2019/20: 12

Average class size 2019/20: 6

Capped 2019/20: 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