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Paper 2: Scope of Social Anthropology: Systems of Power & Knowledge


This course examines a number of key issues in the anthropology of religion:

  • relationships between the divine order and the social order
  • the nature of ritual and different approaches to the understanding of ritual action
  • classification, liminality and taboo
  • religion as ideology, and the relationship between religion and the state
  • spirit possession, shamanism and witchcraft
  • new religious movements
  • world religions



The anthropological study of the diverse practical and philosophical forms of political life has long had a foundational importance in generating new anthropological theories and methods. This course introduces students to these past and current developments in social anthropology through a number of themes, including:

  • ethnicity and nationalism
  • globalisation
  • citizenship
  • colonialism
  • biopolitics and governmentality
  • the state and the non-state
  • racism and the politics of exclusion
  • ideology and hegemony
  • social movements
  • dispute settlements
  • war, peace and feud
  • domination and resistance
  • the ethnography of law and human rights

Course Resources


MPhil Paper 2 Guide

For reading lists, additional teaching materials, past exam papers and reports please see the MPhil Moodle Course.

Please note teaching staff and students enrolled on the MPhil course will automatically be enrolled on the MPhil Moodle course and you will find a link to it in the ‘My Home’ section of Moodle.

If you are a member of the University of Cambridge and you wish to view the reading lists, past exam questions and exam reports then you can access the MPhil Moodle Course as a guest. For more information on how to access Moodle Courses as a guest please see Moodle Help.