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Modules for 2024 -25

Specialist modules are reading and discussion-intensive seminars that take place in four-weekly blocks over Michaelmas and the first half of Lent. MPhil SAR students choose a total of six modules to attend.

These seminars do not have assessments; rather, they are opportunities for students to engage with current research on specific topics that they may use to further their own research interests or as the basis of their 5,000 word essays. Specialist modules for 2024-25 provisionally include:


Research Methods I  & II (various lecturers)           

Research Methods I & II consist of a combination of lectures (held together with other cohorts) and postgraduate-specific seminars at which each method, and its relation to your research, is discussed in greater detail. These sessions will be especially useful if you’ve had limited experience of doing in-person research/fieldwork or would like to explore unfamiliar methods for your dissertation research.

Sessions for 2024-25 may include: participant observation, interviews, audiovisual methods, digital ethnography, archives, life histories, extended case methods, anthropology ‘at home’


The Anthropology of Crisis and Disaster (Prof Uradyn Bulag)

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven home the message that crises and disasters are not aberrations, but a fundamental feature of the human condition. Anthropologists have long argued that while crisis represents existential disruptions or threats to human and social lives, it may also provide opportunities for creativity and resilience. In this seminar we will engage anthropological scholarship on crises as events (economic, environmental, epidemic and political disasters) that structure history, and as chronic lived experiences, underpinned by disorder, insecurity, or precarity.


The Anthropology of Power (Prof David Sneath)

In this seminar we read and critically reflect upon changing theories of power used in anthropology, and examine the roles that explicit and implicit notions of power and politics play in classic and recent ethnographic studies. We ask what difference a sensitivity to inclusive notions of power makes when reconsidering classical anthropological analytical categories such as ‘kinship’ and ‘exchange’.


Museum Anthropology (Dr Mark Elliott and Dr Eve Haddow)

These seminars will be led by Senior Anthropology Curators in the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology (MAA). Drawing on MAA's extensive collections and critical museological practice, the module will focus on pressing issues related to de-colonisation, diversity, inclusion and public engagement. The sessions will provide the opportunity to combine theoretical concerns and practical engagement with the ongoing work of the Museum.


Political Economy (Sian Lazar)

In this seminar we will read classic and recent texts to explore how anthropologists have articulated intimate ethnographic engagement with a critique of globally connected (or repeated) political-economic processes. We will study capitalism(s) and colonialities on the one hand, and their counterforces and present-day alternatives on the other.


Anthropology and Art (Dr Iza Kavedžija)

In this seminar we will consider art making as a process that unfolds in the context of specific art worlds.  We begin with an exploration of the collaborative nature of art making, and how this opens up questions of authorship.  If an artwork emerges through an embodied relationship to one's materials, in interaction with the ideas of others, how are we best to understand the role of the artist as an 'author'?  We then consider art in relation to time, focusing on the specific temporalities of the art project, the art event, and the broader horizon of the artist's life course.  Finally, we explore the relationship between art and anthropology.  What are the key similarities and differences between the two fields?  How does ethnographic work and an anthropological sensibility underpin contemporary art projects, and what kinds of art can we hope to make as anthropologists?


The Anthropology of Violence (Dr Andrew Sanchez)

This course is a critical discussion of how different forms of violence are experienced and enacted, and how Social Anthropology contributes to an understanding of them.  The course is comprised of 4 seminars that address the following issues: the distinction between physical, structural, and epistemological violence; how violence maps onto social inequalities and differences; how people manage the experience and aftermath of violence; the challenges and strengths of ethnographic studies of violence.


For, Against, and Without Sovereignty (Dr Natalia Buitron)

From the workings of the international order to the struggles of native peoples, from personal autonomy to legitimate rule, everyone seems to be struggling for sovereignty in today's world. But is the will to sovereignty inevitable? Can we imagine social arrangements that work against sovereignty, or even exist wholly without it? These seminars explore anthropological concepts of sovereignty: how can we understand relations of sovereignty? How do they combine violence and care, submission and utopia? Sifting through thought experiments and the ethnographic record, we chart the coordinates of worlds without sovereignty, and ask: is it possible to create such worlds today?


On modes and forms (Professor Matei Candea and Dr Michael Degani)

Anthropologists in recent decades have been rather intensely focused on questions of substance (things, embodiment, materiality, objects, affects, life..) and have tended to stress the importance of emergence, messiness and the unexpected in their accounts of social life. Against that background, this module returns to the often neglected yet perennial anthropological problem of order. From planetary boundaries to algorithmic protocols, from bureaucratic procedures to aesthetic styles—to say nothing of statuses, laws, beliefs, and other classic objects of anthropological investigation—patterns, rhythm and regularities are everywhere in social life. We survey recent work on modes and forms to ask how these patterned phenomena enable and constrain possibility for different actors, and how they emerge, evolve, or coexist. Along the way, we will consider the formal properties of anthropological knowledge-making itself, the regularities and creative disruptions of anthropological concepts, methods and heuristics.


Students will choose 6 modules: 2 in the first half of Michaelmas term, 2 in the second half of Michaelmas term and 2 in the first half of Lent term.

Timetabling constraints will mean that not all combinations will be possible, and if student numbers are deemed too small, some modules may not run.