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AT4049: ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO THE PAST (2021-2022)

Last modified: 10 Sep 2021 09:15


Course Overview

This course draws on the University’s Museums and Special Collections to explore practical methods used in anthropological approaches to the past. Students will investigate the ethnographic potential of oral histories, museum objects, photographs, and archival documents. We will examine how these methods can be used to tell diverse stories about colonialism, collecting, and histories of science, and address contemporary concerns such as collaborative research and repatriation. Students will write a historical ethnography drawing on methods and materials of their choice.  

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Ms Kirsty Kernohan

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?

None.

What courses cannot be taken with this course?

None.

Are there a limited number of places available?

Yes

One or more of these courses have a limited number of places. Priority access will be given to students for whom this course is compulsory. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more details on this process.


Course Description

What makes historical anthropology anthropological? Although often associated with contemporary fieldwork, anthropological methods can also offer an insight into the past and the way in which it intersects with present concerns. This course is divided into three parts which explore ethnographic approaches to the past through lectures and seminar discussions. 

Beginning with contextualising theoretical discussions, this course goes on to explore anthropological approaches to the past through the lens of diverse historical sources: oral histories, museum objects, photographs, and archives. Drawing on these methodological considerations, the course explores ethnographic approaches to a variety of influential and contested histories: histories of empire, collecting, science, and institutions. These histories span the late eighteenth to the early twenty-first centuries and cover diverse geographic regions from Aotearoa New Zealand and Indonesia to Aberdeen and Dumfries and Galloway. These histories are considered in light of the effects historical anthropology might have on contemporary concerns, including discussions of collaboration and repatriation in the context of museum and archival collections.  

 Assessment will be 100% coursework and will include an independent research project where students are encouraged to draw on methodological skills to write a historical ethnography using historical sources of their choice.  


In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Seminar during University weeks 9 - 20

More Information about Week Numbers


Summative Assessments

Reflective Report

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 30
Assessment Weeks 10,12,14 Feedback Weeks 12,14,16

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Word count- 1500 (3 x 500)

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Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualAnalyseStudents will be able to analyse and critically evaluate the potential for historical anthropological research to impact contemporary anthropological and political concerns.
ConceptualUnderstandStudents will be able to understand the relationship between anthropology and history and describe historical anthropology as a distinct theoretical and methodological approach.
ProceduralEvaluateStudents will be able to recognise, evaluate, and implement a variety of methodological strategies for conducting historical ethnographic research e.g. object-based research, archival research.

Project Report/Dissertation

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 50
Assessment Weeks 20 Feedback Weeks 24

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Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualAnalyseStudents will be able to analyse and critically evaluate the potential for historical anthropological research to impact contemporary anthropological and political concerns.
ConceptualUnderstandStudents will be able to understand the relationship between anthropology and history and describe historical anthropology as a distinct theoretical and methodological approach.
ProceduralEvaluateStudents will be able to recognise, evaluate, and implement a variety of methodological strategies for conducting historical ethnographic research e.g. object-based research, archival research.
ReflectionCreateStudents will be able to propose, design, and produce an independent project based on historical ethnographic research methods.

Project proposal with annotated bibliography

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 20
Assessment Weeks 16 Feedback Weeks 19

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Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandStudents will be able to understand the relationship between anthropology and history and describe historical anthropology as a distinct theoretical and methodological approach.
ReflectionCreateStudents will be able to propose, design, and produce an independent project based on historical ethnographic research methods.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Resit Assessments

Resit of failed elements

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 100
Assessment Weeks Feedback Weeks

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Separate resit for each of the failed components i.e., 
a new 500 word reflective piece on a different topic, 
a new project proposal of 1500 words, 
and a new final project of 3000 words. 

Each of these could act as a direct resit for the failed element.

Feedback will be provided within three weeks of submission.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
Sorry, we don't have this information available just now. Please check the course guide on MyAberdeen or with the Course Coordinator

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandStudents will be able to understand the relationship between anthropology and history and describe historical anthropology as a distinct theoretical and methodological approach.
ProceduralEvaluateStudents will be able to recognise, evaluate, and implement a variety of methodological strategies for conducting historical ethnographic research e.g. object-based research, archival research.
ConceptualAnalyseStudents will be able to analyse and critically evaluate the potential for historical anthropological research to impact contemporary anthropological and political concerns.
ReflectionCreateStudents will be able to propose, design, and produce an independent project based on historical ethnographic research methods.

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