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Undergraduate Anthropology 2014-2015

AT1003: INTRODUCTION TO ANTHROPOLOGY: PEOPLES OF THE WORLD

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

Anthropology is the comparative study of human ways of life through the study of societies and cultures around the world. In this course we introduce some of the key topics of contemporary anthropological inquiry: What is Anthropology? What do anthropologists do? What is ethnography? How can we see the diverse world of societies and cultures around us, not by looking from the outside, but by looking at how people themselves make their own lives and meanings?

AT1502: INTRODUCTION TO ANTHROPOLOGY: QUESTIONS OF DIVERSITY

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

In this course students will be offered an extended introduction to social anthropology and will focus on topics: language and culture, belief and religion, gender and sex, kinship, and race. Students will develop and refine their understanding of major issues in the discipline of social anthropology through staff lectures, tutorials, and ethnographic films. 

AT2007: ANTHROPOLOGY AND IMPERIALISM

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

Students taking this course will be encouraged to reflect on how anthropology is both part of the history of colonialism and of empire. Through a range of case studies drawn from around the world, the course will consider how the history of anthropology is related to the histories of those who inform the discipline. Students will also ask how anthropological knowledge can be used to critique colonial histories. The course is taught through lectures and tutorials which allow students to develop a deeper, practical and applied understanding of the topics raised in the course.

AT2008: COLONIALISM RE-IMAGINED

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

History has traditionally been understood from a western perspective, but why is this the case? What might the perspectives of colonized peoples contribute to our understanding of global processes? This course will use case studies to explore the various ways in which indigenous peoples have resisted and reformed dominant discourses of colonialism, as well as examine anthropology’s role in these movements. 

AT2513: POLITICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

How do human beings relate to one another at a communal level? What holds human societies together? This course examines the basic forms of human solidarity that anthropologists have identified that bind us together as people: race, class, ethnicity, kinship, gender. In each case, these core ideas will be examined not just as descriptions of social life, but as forms of power and identity. The course introduces students to what these terms mean, how they have been used in understanding human societies, and what they look like in a cross-cultural context.

AT2514: ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO RELIGION

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

This course helps students to understand critically the phenomenon of religion. There are two main aims. Firstly, four contrasting approaches to religion that have been influential in anthropology and beyond will be introduced. These include religion as a social phenomenon, religion as a cultural phenomenon, Marxist perspectives on religion, and religion as embodied experience. Secondly, students themselves will engage with the question of what religion is, compare and contrast different answers to this question, and develop their own, informed, understanding.

AT3027: ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course explores theoretical issues and key debates in contemporary anthropology. We begin with the questioning of the central concepts of culture and society in anthropology during the 1980s. Following this, we ask: how can anthropology proceed if the targets of its investigation can no longer be understood as objective entities? How can anthropology proceed if the anthropologist themselves is inevitably implicated in and part of those very targets? To look for possible answers, the course examines current anthropological interest in power and history, political economy and phenomenology, experience, embodiment and practice, ontology and things that speak.

AT3031: DOING ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH

15 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course aims to acquaint students with the practical, methodological and theoretical issues associated with anthropological research. It examines critically different methodological approaches and the relation between fieldwork experiences and ethnographic production. The course is run through a series of student-led seminars with guest anthropologists, tutorials and workshops which involve practical activities. Issues covered include preparation for fieldwork, framing research questions, collecting ethnographic data and presenting ethnographic interpretations.  An important part of the assessment is a small individual research project chosen, designed and carried out by the student.

AT3522: SOCIETY AND NATURE

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Through a series of lectures and a mix of tutor and student led tutorials, this course will interrogate the division between society and nature. We will examine where the division came from, how it informs many understandings of humans and the environment, and whether we would be better off disposing of it altogether. Examples of the impact of this construction will be provided but students will be encouraged and expected to seek out their own and to do their own research which will then be brought back to the course through lively tutorial discussions resulting in peer and tutor feedback.

AT3523: ETHNOGRAPHY

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

What is ethnographic writing and how do we learn to write ethnographically? This course seeks to familiarise students with the craft of ethnographic writing through a series of lectures, seminars, reading and writing exercises.  

AT3524: ANTHROPOLOGY OF DISCOURSE

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This is an introduction to linguistic anthropology, focusing on language in use from an ethnographic point of view and complements rather than duplicates similar offerings in linguistics. Language is taken as a subset of culture. We begin with a core concept, Peirce’s idea of the index and his semiotics more generally, and explore several topics through ethnographic studies using qualitative data. The topics include power, gender & identity, creativity, language & thought, language shift & documentation. The course is useful for anyone interested in understanding aspects of social life that involve communication.

AT3528: MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course will introduce students to the main themes of medical anthropology. Western medicine will be explored as a ‘medical system’ and compared to other forms of healing around the world. We will investigate ideas of health and illness, the history of medicine, and a number of case studies in indigenous health and healing. Coursework takes the form of a group project in which students investigate a theme in medical anthropology together. The course will suit anyone with an interest in health and well-being.

AT3529: RESEARCH PROJECT PART 1

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

It will introduce students to the necessary skills required for carrying out an undergraduate level research project in anthropology, and is an essential prelude to the dissertation. In it, students will identify a research project of their choice, and will be guided through the necessary steps and skills required for the production of a 4000 word project proposal.

AT4036: INDEPENDENT STUDY IN ANTHROPOLOGY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course is open to joint honours students in anthropology. Having chosen a topic for their study, students will be allocated a supervisor and carry out readings, research and writing under the guidance of their supervisor. On the basis of their research (usually library-based) students will write a 10.000 word dissertation.

AT4037: ANTHROPOLOGY RESEARCH PROJECT PART 2

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course will build on the initial research design students built during Research Project Part I towards their undergraduate research project in anthropology.

AT4038: MORE THAN HUMAN

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course explores new directions in how we think about humans and other species.  Recent years have seen an upsurge in interest in how the social sciences and humanities deal with animals, plants and other organisms and we scrutinise these cutting edge ideas in depth.  A lot of emphasis is placed on trying to think through real life encounters and issues, from a walk in the park to new revelations about life from the bottom of the ocean.  Although the focus is on anthropological work, the course should appeal to students from a wide range of backgrounds.

AT4041: MATERIALS, TECHNOLOGY AND POWER IN THE ANDEAN REGION

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course introduces students to anthropological studies of the Andes region of South America.  Its particular focus is on Andean technologies and uses of materials.  Historically, approaches to working with materials in the region differed markedly from those found in Europe and the region remains interesting from a technological perspective.  Four main technological areas are addressed: mining and metallurgy; the use of fibres (including for textual purposes); medicine and the body; and working the land.  Course material includes contemporary ethnographic and historical studies and incorporates three relevant ethnographic films.

AT4526: ROADS: MOBILITY, MOVEMENT, MIGRATION

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

In this course students will be introduced to topical themes in contemporary anthropology:  roads, automobility, car cultures, migration, road narratives, and roads in film and literature the notions of movement and mobility. The course will rely on rich ethnographic material from the North, including Scotland.  Students will conduct original research on the theme of road. The course includes a fieldwork element, as well as screenings of documentary films about roads.  

AT4532: ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE NORTH

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Through a series of lectures and a mix of tutor and student led tutorials, this course focuses on the sometimes difficult history of anthropology and the circumpolar north. Misconceptions (sometimes intentionally created) about the people who live there and their relationships to the environment have informed both state policy and anthropological theory and now is the time for a new anthropology of the north to set the record straight. Students will be encouraged and expected to do their own research on topics of their own choosing and bring these insights back to the course through lively tutorial discussions.

AT4534: ANTHROPOLOGY OF MYTH

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Studying myths is a core part of the anthropology of religion; they are sacred narratives. Myths are also a core part of the oral literature of a culture. We start with ancient Greek mythology to explore the category of myth distinguished from other kinds of verbal arts. The course then looks at myth as performed oral narrative and the performer-audience relation in order to understand the production of texts. Studying myths is an excellent way to get at particular cultural categories and how those categories shape individual and collective action. Students choose their own topic for the essay.

AT4545: ANTHROPOLOGY, MUSEUMS AND SOCIETY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course is organised around a series of seminars and visits to selected museums. The course is divided into two parts. The first addresses approaches in anthropology to the meanings of artefacts; the second considers contemporary curatorial practice. Assessment is based on an artefact study, which will involve original research utilising the collections of the University of Aberdeen, and an essay in which students reflect upon the course as a whole.

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