Not available in 2020/21
AN269      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Amazonia

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Harry Walker OLD 5.06B


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.


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

Course content

The course will introduce students to selected themes in the anthropology of Amazonia. It will provide a grounding in the ethnographic literature of the region while seeking to engage with current theoretical debates, highlighting their potential importance to the discipline of anthropology. Topics to be covered include history, indigenous social movements; sexuality and gender; trade and inter-ethnic relations; politics and power; illness, well-being and death. Students will be encouraged to reflect on the broader relationship between ethnography and theory, to challenge common stereotypes of Amazonia and its inhabitants, and to explore ways in which the region has inscribed itself on the imagination of anthropologists and laypersons alike.


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

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

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Clastres, Pierre. 1987. Society Against the State: Essays in Political


Overing, Joanna. & Alan Passes (eds). 2000. The Anthropology of Love and

Anger: The Aesthetics of Conviviality in Native Amazonia.

Walker, Harry. 2012. Under a Watchful Eye: Self, Power and Intimacy in


Descola, Philippe. 1994. In the Society of Nature: A Native Ecology in


Gow, Peter. 2002. An Amazonian Myth and its History.

Fisher, William H. 2000. Rainforest Exchanges: Industry and Community on an

Amazonian Frontier.

Seeger, Anthony. 2004. Why Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian


Gregor, Thomas. 1985. Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian


Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1984. Tristes Tropiques.

Conklin, Beth. 2001. Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an

Amazonian Society.


Take-home assessment (100%) in the MT.

The take home exam will be held the week following the end of the MT.

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: 25

Average class size 2019/20: 14

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information