Course syllabus

Sangoma reading the bones.


Welcome to Advanced Study of Anthropological Theory (or ASAT), 7,5 ECTS!

This course is taught and coordinated by Annika Teppo. Contact her, if you have questions about the course and the teaching. She is, however, on her well deserved annual leave between 28.6. and 8.8.2022, so please take this into account. In any case, most of the answers you are probably looking for can be found on this page.

The course starts with an introductory lecture on Tuesday, 30th August at 14.15-16 in room 3-2028 (Campus Engelska Parken). The classes are held once a week, mostly on Tuesday afternoons (with two exceptions). The course ends on 30th October 2022.

The course (1) explores some of the key problems to which modern social and cultural anthropology emerged as a response; it (2) focuses on major theories, themes, and debates that have informed anthropological inquiry; and it (3) exemplifies how anthropologists revisit, engage and reformulate classical theoretical discussions in analytical work today.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course, students should have acquired the ability to discuss critically central aspects of the history of anthropological theory, and be able to make use of such knowledge in the construction of contemporary anthropological problems.

Course Requirements:

Students are required to attend all seminars, complete the seminar assignments, read the course literature, and complete the course assignments on time. Seminars are mandatory, and for a completed course, students may only miss two seminars. Those students who for any reason fail to attend a seminar must complete an extra assignment, and those who miss two seminars must complete two extra assignments.

Required Reading:

  1. Barnard, Alan. 2000. History and Theory in Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Link to library record  [This is an important book that explores various traditions in the history of anthropology and provides valuable context to other readings.]
  2. Moore, Henrietta L. and Todd Sanders (eds). 2014. Anthropology in Theory: Issues in Epistemology. Second Edition. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Link to electronic access  [This is a collection of original texts, although mostly given as abridged versions. As such, it enables close readings of relevant classical and contemporary pieces. Together, these texts provide an overview of the history of anthropological theory and of ongoing disciplinary discussions. Please make sure to obtain the second edition, published in 2014.]
  3. Engelke, Matthew. 2017. Think like an Anthropologist. London, UK: Pelican, Penguin Books. Link to electronic access [A fascinating exploration organized by central themes]
  4. Willerslev, Rane. 2007. Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood among the Siberian Yukaghirs. Berkeley: University of California Press. Link to electronic access  [This is an ethnography that revisits classic theoretical debates—not as a return to the past, but to expose the empirical problems to which such discussions sought to respond. Ultimately, it illuminates how epistemological and ontological aspects of these problems in different forms reoccur in anthropological research today.]

Suggested reading for students with previous limited studies or no previous background in anthropology:

Ingold, Tim. 2018. Anthropology: Why It Matters. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Link to library record  [This short book gives you an overview of anthropological key questions and historical trajectory. It is written in a very accessible style and presents important reflections on the future of the discipline.]

It is be assumed that the participants are familiar with the history of the discipline, and the course content is formed around that assumption from the start. Thus, if you want to brush up your knowledge, these undergraduate level course books can be extremely helpful:

Erickson, Paul A.; Murphy, Liam D. A History of Anthropological Theory, Fifth Edition. Link to library record.  University of Toronto Press, 2016

Murphy, Liam D.; Erickson, Paul A. Readings for a History of Anthropological Theory, Fifth Edition. Link to library recordUniversity of Toronto Press, 2016


Looking forward to meet you all! Welcome!

Picture credits: Sangoma reading the bones, by Mycelium101 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,