A History of Anthropological Theory

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Fuad Marco Devecchi Musallam OLD 6.08 and Dr Mukulika Banerjee OLD 5.09


This course is compulsory on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available on the BSc in Politics. 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 theory in relation to ethnographic research. It covers the development of anthropological thought from the second half of the 19th century to today. Anthropology is situated within its context, including the social conditions of scholarship, as well as the histories of empires, nation-states, and capitalism. 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.

The contact hours listed above are the minimum expected. 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. Anthropology students taking this course will have an opportunity to submit one tutorial essay for this course to their academic mentor in the MT and one in the LT. For non-Anthropology students taking this course, a formative essay may be submitted to the course teacher in the MT and in the LT.

Indicative reading

Alan Barnard, History and Theory in Anthropology; Matthew Engelke, Think Like an Anthropologist; Adam Kuper, Anthropology and Anthropologists; George W. Stocking, Observers Observed: Essays on Ethnographic Fieldwork. Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2021/22: 61

Average class size 2021/22: 13

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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