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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Ethnography of a Selected Region - East Africa

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

This one-term course provides an introduction to the richness and complexity of East African society. The course focuses on a number of contemporary issues from the impact of social change on ‘traditional’ social groups to various aspects of social identity seen through the prism of illness/spirit possession, ethnicity, nationalism and race.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

This course looks in depth at issues of anthropological representation of the peoples/cultures of the region, and in particular at current socio-cultural issues which challenge conventional understandings about identity and culture. 

The course aims to: 

  • provide students with an in-depth understanding of ethnographic writing on the region; 
  • assist students to critically engage with anthropological concepts and concerns about social, ethnic, national and racial identity as these are experienced in the region.

Scope and syllabus

A focus on tradition and change at the level of community and a region that has been subject to rapid transformation from colony to post-colony. Regional societies have been shaped by the state, regional and global processes and the course will examine issues of:

  • ethnicity, nationalism and identity; 
  • witchcraft and healing; 
  • pastoralists, hunter-gatherers and cultivators;
  • issues of ethnographic representation;
  • problems of development, urbanisation, and of social conflict.

Method of assessment

The written exam will count for 60%. 2 pieces of coursework will count for 40% (20% each) towards the final mark.