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Last modified: 31 Jul 2023 11:19

Course Overview

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.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Arnar Arnason

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Programme Level 3

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

  • Programme Level 3
  • Anthropology (AT) (Studied)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • AT3004 Anthropological Theory (Studied)
  • AT3527 Anthropological Theory (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course explores the main critical debates in contemporary anthropology in the context of their development within the history of the field.  We will critically examine the foundation of the discipline and its unique approach to modelling time, the definition of the person, and materiality.  We will further explore contemporary debates surrounding multi-natures, political ecology and the authoritative voice.  The course will anchor contemporary challenges, such as the ecological crisis in long-term theoretical themes. The course will provide an overview of evolutionist, functionalist, Marxist, structuralist, and practice anthropology – as well as explore the “anthropology of the good” and “ethical projects”

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Annotated Biblio (500-words)

Discursive Review (1200-words)

Research Essay (2000-words)

3hr Exam

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ProceduralAnalyseproduce coherent and reasoned arguments in written work and class discussions about topics related to anthropological theories
ConceptualCreatedescribe and explore competing theories from different European and non-European contexts and traditions
ProceduralRememberThe course encourages you to present structured and reasoned points to a small group.
ConceptualAnalyseThe course gives you an opportunity to work with each other in preparing group work
ReflectionAnalyseengage in self-directed learning
ConceptualUnderstandcritical reflection on the major developments in anthropological theory
ProceduralAnalysethe course encourages the complex use of online research materials

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