Faculty of Arts


Anthropological Theory and the Contemporary World


An analysis of foundational and current theoretical works in social anthropology and their relevance to understanding contemporary societies and cultures. The course examines anthropological approaches to long-standing disciplinary debates and contemporary issues of wider public debate.

The aim of this course is to familiarise you with a sample of some of the most important foundational and contemporary thinkers who have shaped – and continue to shape – sociocultural anthropology. This includes some of the foundational work of writers (such as Marx, Weber and Durkheim) who were not anthropologists but whose ideas have deeply influenced the discipline.

The topics we will cover over the coming weeks include both classic and cutting edge issues and debates within – and often beyond – Anthropology. These readings, and your discussions based on them, will provide a solid grounding from which you can develop your specific individual research interests for your Honours or Masters theses.

By the end of this course you should:

  • Understand key aspects of the theories covered
  • Be developing an ability to discern how theoretical approaches relate to each other as complementary or contrastive approaches to different aspects of the human condition
  • Have developed insight into the nature of theoretical analysis generally
  • Have critical insight into the value of different theoretical perspectives and their potential relevance to the analysis of contemporary issues
  • Have theoretical resources appropriate to the development of Masters-level research in sociocultural anthropology

Availability 2021

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Susanna Trnka


ANTHRO 760: 15.0 points

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