JH African Studies and Social Anthropology Modules Year 1
Studying Societies: Social Anthropology
This module delivers core study skills for students studying social anthropology to support their transition from secondary to higher education. The module provides an introduction to social anthropology, with a focus on understanding some of the key conceptual and methodological underpinnings of the discipline. The module also allows students to familiarise themselves with the key skills necessary for success at university, such as note-taking, essay writing, academic integrity, oral presentation, and the ability to use library resources
Around the World with Anthropology
This module develops students’ knowledge of social anthropology by exploring the diversity of the discipline through a focus on a range of ethnographic regions. Students consider some of the key thematic and theoretical developments that have emerged from the study of particular regions of the world. Alongside this world-tour of anthropological research, students continue to develop the study skills necessary to succeed at university level, building on the work they have done above.
The module is a broad introduction to anthropological approaches to society and culture. It asks questions about social life to which the answers appear obvious, and examines them in comparative perspective. Examples may include: What is a gift? What is dirt? What is in a name? How universal are experiences of emotions? In the process, students are shown the point of anthropology – to see life through the eyes of other people, and to question one’s own assumptions. It focuses on ethnography, the practice of 'doing anthropology' both in Africa and elsewhere. We use written texts and film to open up and discuss central ideas and debates in anthropology.
Optional Modules may include:
Writing Worlds: Ethnography as Craft
This module is built around full-length ethnographic monographs. Students are required to read the books in full over the course of the module. Lectures and seminars help to situate and contextualise the texts in relation, for example, to the identity and career of the anthropologists who wrote them; the development of the discipline of anthropology over time; the various scholarly debates with which they engage; and their reception (contemporary and subsequent). Strong emphasis is placed on the craft of ethnographic writing. Students examine ethnographic writing as a genre and consider different ways in which descriptive and analytical writing are woven together to build an argument. This requires thinking carefully about the nature of ethnographic evidence, the methodological underpinnings of anthropological research, the authors’ positionality and related ethical considerations, and the ways in which other forms of evidence are drawn upon to support ethnographic observation. Students engage with broad anthropological concerns, such as the relationship between the particular and the general, and the ethics and politics of representation, through close engagement with the texts.
Urban Encounters: Anthropology in Birmingham
This module takes key anthropological concepts and themes in the study of urban environments and asks how we might apply them in order to gain a deeper understanding of the city of Birmingham. Through lectures and seminar readings, students will be introduced to anthropological approaches to topics such as immigration, religious belief, consumption practices, street art, popular culture, inequality, multiculturalism, or food, and will be encouraged to apply an anthropological lens to such topics in the city in which they are studying.