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Department of Social Anthropology

Women farmers in Karnataka, India


The focus of the kinship course is on kinship practice and cultures of relatedness as the product of daily living within a particular culture and social structure. We look at problems in kinship theory:

  • incest
  • the nature of the ‘family'
  • the dynamics of unilineal descent groups
  • marriage as transaction and as alliance
  • the relations between production and reproduction
  • gender roles
  • the interplay between hierarchy and kin roles

These problems are addressed by exploring theoretical arguments in relation to particular ethnographies. Appropriate ethnographies are indicated for each seminar topic, and it is intended that students will become familiar with several of these. The seminars focus throughout on the relationship between kinship, household and wider economy.



The economics course provides a foundation in the anthropological study of production, consumption and distribution in various cultures. The syllabus comprises the following main areas:

  1. studies of different substantive types of economy from an anthropological perspective
  2. the emergence, history and theoretical foundations of economic anthropology
  3. other recent theoretical approaches to the study of economic life.

Specific topics of study include:

  • appropriative economies
  • production and exchange in non-industrial indigenous economies
  • peasant agriculture and the political economy
  • barter, trade and money
  • consumption in contemporary economies
  • gender and economic relations
  • poverty and deprivation
  • globalisation

Through seminars on these substantive topics, the course discusses topics such as exchange, ‘the gift’, the division of labour, and value. Lectures provide further theoretical understandings of the history of economic thought, the place of anthropology in this history, the emergence of capitalist economies, and the changing nature of individuals and societies as economic actors in the 20th century.

Course Resources

MPhil Paper 1 Guide

For the paper guide, 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.