The course offers an introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, outlining the discipline’s key methods and central problems. It explores the possible relevance of anthropological perspectives and findings in international humanitarian action. It emphasizes the significance of cultural difference and social practice in areas of high relevance to humanitarian action, such as gender human rights, development, migration and border control. The course also introduces theoretical and critical reflection on the logic and workings of humanitarianism.
Introduction to Social/Cultural Anthropology
Suffering and Aid as Objects of Anthropological Reflection
The Capacity to Aspire and the Will to Improve
Towards an Anthropology of Humanitarian Action
Introduction to Ethnographic Methods; Participant Observation, Field Notes and In-depth Interviews
Politics and Power in Humanitarian Action
Refugees, Border Control and Humanitarianism
Cultural Difference, Immigration and Human Rights
Development and Its Effects
Disasters, Humanitarian Aid and Anthropology
The Militarization of Humanitarian Action
Wrapping Up: The Critique of Humanitarian Action
In conformity with the learning outcomes set out by the NOHA network, students should achieve the following learning outcomes by the end of this module:
Familiarity with key problems and approaches in Social Anthropology;
Hands-on experience of ethnographic research methods: participant observation and in-depth interview;
Knowledge of theoretical and critical debates on humanitarianism from an anthropological perspective;
Knowledge of anthropological debates in areas relevant to humanitarian action.
Teaching and learning methodology
The course is a reading-based seminar. Students are expected to read the required literature before the meeting every week (and in some cases, watch indicated videos available online). Additionally, there will be two practical exercises: one in ethnographic observation and field notes; and one in-depth interviewing.
Assessment methods and criteria
Students’ active participation in class discussions based on the required readings; the quality of students’ work in practical exercises; written exam (mix of open and multiple-choice questions).
Written exam – 40%
Practical exercises – 30%
Participation in discussions – 30%
Presentations – bonus (one good presentation equals half a grade up on the final score).
Last updated:3 October 2017