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Anthropology of Cities & Space



Not offered in the academic year 2016-17.

The primary objective of this paper is to examine the anthropology of the contemporary metropolis and urban social relations, but there is also a focus on pre-twentieth century and non-European cities.  The major theories of the city are covered, relating anthropological approaches to influential ideas from sociology, geography, architecture, history, literary studies and European social thought.  Images of the city are approached through examining utopian thought and experimentation, social engineering, urban planning and forms of architecture.  The city as a spatial-symbolic form and centre of power is addressed through studies of divided cities, urban rituals, commemorations, carnivals, and revolutions, and through consideration of the relationships between space, the body and gender.  Further topics include survival in the city; urban sociality, love and sexuality; forms of urban control and destabilising movements; cosmopolitanism; the effects of globalisation and transformations in information flows.

This paper places anthropological theories and ethnography of the city in the context of ideas from other disciplines, such as architecture, sociology, and geography.  Themes covered include discussions of ‘space’ and ‘place’, debates around Marxist theory, issues of memory and identity, the body and gender in the city, architecture, planning and urban utopias, movement and transit, landscape, issues of deprivation and poverty, and the ways that colonialism and globalisation have been influencing cityscapes and ways of life.  Each course includes introduction of relevant theories, case-studies of particular cities, and a range of geographical examples.  Most emphasis is given to 20th century and contemporary urban processes in Europe and the U.S.A., but there is also discussion of cities in history and in other parts of the world.

Paper Resources

For lecture reading lists, additional teaching materials, past exam questions and exam reports please see the Anthropology of Cities and Space Moodle Course.

Please note teaching staff and students enrolled on the Anthropology of Cities and Space will automatically be enrolled on the Moodle course and you will find a link to the course 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 Moodle Course as a guest. For more information on how to access Moodle Courses as a guest please see Moodle Help.