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Latin American dancers


The course covers material from urban Latin America, the Andes and Amazonia. We will draw on South American ethnographies to explore broad anthropological themes such as ontological difference, nature and culture, post- and de-coloniality of knowledge and politics, activist anthropology, resource extraction, race, precarity and urban life.

One of the most distinctive features of South America as a region is its highly politicized nature, so much of the paper situates itself within political anthropology, covering ethnographic material from across the region. In student-led seminars we examine politics viewed 'from below', namely from the perspective of indigenous people and peoples, women, peasants, the working classes and the poor. We ask how and on what basis people organise to contest dominant political narratives and deal with themes such as the nature of democracy and citizenship; the role of violence and terror in the political imaginary and people's lives; urbanism and the city under neoliberalism; religion and gender. In a series of seminars on Amazonia, we will explore questions of human-nature relations, the environment, extractivism, indigeneity, the body, kinship and shamanism. 

Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to view and discuss a series of contemporary films from the region, and relate that to their reading of the ethnographic material.


Watch a video about the SAN4b South America ethnographic area paper here. 

Music: El Derecho de Vivir en Paz, by Musicxs de Chile (


Continue watching Calle 13, ‘Latinoamérica’: 


Paper Resources

SAN4b Paper Guide 2024-25

SAN4b Paper Guide 2023-24

For lecture reading lists, additional teaching materials, past exam questions and exam reports for all ethnographic areas please see the SAN4 Moodle Course.

Please note teaching staff and students enrolled on SAN4 will automatically be enrolled on the SAN4 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 SAN4 Moodle Course as a guest. For more information on how to access Moodle Courses as a guest please see Moodle Help.