ANTH402-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Issues and Debates in Contemporary Anthropology

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


This course addresses selected, current issues and debates of a theoretical, methodological and interpretative nature. This course is compulsory for students wanting to enrol in the Anthropology Honours programme.

The theory course will address theorizing as itself a form of social praxis. Dominant strands of contemporary anthropology see theory as reflexive and (self-)critical, as interactive and evolving, and as implicated in constructivist–deconstructivist moves. This entails putting the interpretive and agentive faculties of social actors centre-stage. The course will in particularly address the central paradox of modern theoretical reflection, which on the one hand sees theory directly implicated in (and not outside of) its subject matter, while on the other hand it puts emphasis on the constitutive break with social praxis, and the effects of this break on the mode of theorizing. The course will look into constitutive premises of anthropological discourse and will in an exemplary manner question central conceptual tools of the discipline, which are too easily taken for granted. The course will also address representational biases inscribed into approaches informing the discipline, and will point out limitations of what we can legitimately attempt to understand.

Learning Outcomes

  • After taking this course, students are expected:

  • To have a good understanding of the important issues and theories in contemporary cultural anthropology
  • To have developed expertise in the work of at least one contemporary theorist or topical area (ideally related to their own research)
  • To have mastered skills in academic reading, writing and discussion, which are essential to their future academic careers.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable 2020

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 12:00 - 15:00 - (19/2-18/3)
Online Delivery (25/3, 29/4-27/5)
17 Feb - 29 Mar
27 Apr - 31 May

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Zhifang Song


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
5 weekly summaries 10%
Short essay 30%
Long essay 12 Jun 2020 60%

Textbooks / Resources

A collection of journal articles and book chapters selected by the lecturer.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,884.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All ANTH402 Occurrences

  • ANTH402-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020