This course is the basic introductory module to anthropology, and introduces students to the principal features of the discipline. Anthropology itself has many sub-branches, such as social, cultural, anthropology, forensic and evolutionary anthropology. The anthropology programme and courses at Aberdeen focus on socio-cultural anthropology, that is the comparative study of human societies and cultures through detailed ethnography. Ethnography is a way of describing social life that emerges from long-term fieldwork amongst and study of particular cultures and communities, to understand the way in which diverse communities and cultures organise their lives, interact with one another, form meaningful understandings of the world through religion, politics, kinship and language. In this sense, anthropology at Aberdeen is the study of societies and cultures from the “inside”, a perspective profoundly different from that which usually come across in news or television reports, travel shows or political rhetoric. It challenges our basic assumptions about the world we live in.
The course as a whole is comprised of three components: an introduction to socio-cultural anthropology itself, and two further substantive components, which change from year: the study of exchange and gift-giving; the formations of language, meaning and myth; the anthropology of politics and social movements.