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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

The Anthropology of Space, Place and Architecture

Course Code:
151802058
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2
The course introduces various approaches to studying space, place and architecture, and provides a framework for critically assessing the historical, cultural and social significance of these concepts.

The principal aim is to challenge notions of ‘space’ as a reified entity which is conceptualised and inhabited in a universal manner, and to cultivate a more complex understanding of the processes of human agency which manipulate, produce and re-produce space as perhaps the most significant and crucial component of any material culture.

Prerequisites

The theory presented in this course builds on the students’ theoretical background acquired in the second-year Theory in Anthropology course, and it will compliment many of the theoretical issues covered in the third-year Contemporary Trends course.

The ethnographic examples of space, place and architecture discussed in the lectures and tutorials cover a wide number of regions including the Near and Middle East, Asia and Africa, and thus the course also builds upon the students’ second-year ethnographic studies.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

Students will study various anthropological and social theories applied to the study of space, place and architecture in a variety of cultural and social settings (including London and the SOAS regions).

Students will learn how to:
  • critically assess data from texts, various forms of visual media, and
    digital sources (including documentary film, and web and electronic data sources); 
  • solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations; 
  • locate materials and use search sources (including research library catalogues) and other relevant sources; 
  • and conduct a small component of fieldwork.
Intellectual (thinking) Skills
  • Capacity to discuss anthropological issues concerning space, place and architecture in an articulate, informed and impartial manner.
  • Ability to frame and present an argument.
  • Ability to absorb, process and distinguish descriptive and interpretative material.
  • Capacity to think both critically and creatively about anthropological issues and topics.
Transferable Skills

The programme will encourage students to:

  • Write concisely and with clarity.
  • Communicate ideas both orally and with the aid of visual material.
  • Engage critically with debates on social and cultural issues, to pose relevant questions, and to formulate and orally communicate ideas with clarity and precision.
  • Explore a variety of sources for research materials.
  • Develop research methods and elementary fieldwork skills.
  • Possess basic computer skills and ability to use basic software packages.
  • Work to deadlines and standards.
  • Develop self-reflexiveness.
  • Develop awareness of the relativity of diverse social structures, cultural values, beliefs and attitudes.
  • Assess the validity and cogency of arguments.
  • Make judgments involving complex factors.

Method of assessment

Coursework 1 (10%), Coursework 2 (80%), Oral presentation (10%).