This introduction to cultural anthropology and development studies will familiarize students with the history of both disciplines, the basic concepts of these different domains of study that are intertwined yet have an autonomous institutional background, the various theoretical schools that have influenced the direction they have taken in recent decades, and the relevance of a perspective from the viewpoint of anthropology and development studies for contemporary problems related to cultural diversity and inequality.
First, students will be introduced to the various domains of anthropology, including economic anthropology, the anthropology of religion, the anthropology of kinship and social organization, and political and legal anthropology. Furthermore, questions of cultural relativism versus universalism, of empirical fieldwork and theoretical analysis, of interpretation and explanation, and of agency and structure will be addressed. The course involves ethnographic encounters with a wide range of societies studied in anthropology, from small-scale hunter-gatherer groups to multicultural societies.
Second, students will be introduced into the history of development studies, the changes that have taken place in thinking about development issues in recent decades, and the key debates in the discipline. Following the process of globalization, the traditional division of the world between the Global North and the Global South (formerly the Third World) that used to underpin development studies for several decades has gradually become outdated. At the same time, new global challenges have emerged, such as the increasing scarcity of natural resources, the impact of climate change and growing inequality around the globe. As a consequence, development is becoming increasingly intertwined with other societal spheres, such as the environment, health care and security. This course will focus on the various relations among these different processes.
The course is aimed to introduce anthropology and development studies to all interested students. It is designed for students at beginner's level, but it is fundamental for further courses in anthropology and development studies since it introduces the ways in which scholars in the field do their empirical research, their ways of relating research results to overarching questions and how they present their work to the rest of the world.
The reading relating to the course is in English and the lectures in this course will also be delivered in English, but questions and discussions in Dutch are possible and there is a choice between the two languages in the written work of the students.
In order to successfully pass this course students are required to read the texts that are assigned, to reflect on the contents and to be able to demonstrate in a written exam that they have read and understood the materials. They should expect four hours of reading and preparation per week.