SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

211 Anthropology Through History

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1

This module provides a social history of anthropology - as an academic discipline, a profession, and a body of scholarship - as it has developed and evolved over the past century, both in 'the West' and worldwide. Topics may vary from year to year, but may include, for example, the relationship between anthropological scholarship and sociopolitical change; the emergence of national 'schools' of anthropological thought and application; entanglements of anthropology with nationalism and colonialism; the role of anthropology in left-wing social movements; and the popular translation of anthropological concepts into contemporary debates, from race, gender and sexuality to cultural property, heritage and appropriation.


Compulsory for all Year 2 students on:

  • BA Social Anthropology
  • BA Social Anthropology and...

This module is also a School-wide Open Option (Year 2 or Year 3). No prerequisites.


Beginning 2023/24:

Compulsory for all Year 2 students on:

  • BA Social Anthropology

Guided option for all Year 2 students on:

  • BA Social Anthropology and...

Suggested reading

Representative readings:

  • Bank, Leslie J. 2013. ‘Witchcraft and the Academy: Livingstone Mqotsi, Monica Wilson and the Middledrift Healers, 1945-1957’ in Andrew Bank & Leslie J. Bank (eds.) Inside African Anthropology. Cambridge University Press, 224-252
  • Boas, Franz. 1940. Race, Language and Culture. New York: Macmillan
  • Cotera, María Eugenia. 2008. Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita González, and the Poetics of Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press
  • Fei, Xiaotong. 1939. Peasant Life in China: A Field Study of Country Life in the Yangtze Valley. New York: E.P. Dutton
  • Hurston, Zora Neale. 2008 [1935]. Mules and Men. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Kuklick, Henrika, 2008. A New History of Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Ntarangi, Mwenda, David Mills and Mustafa Babiker, eds. 2006. African Anthropologies: History, Critique and Practice. Dakar: CODESRIA/London: Zed Books
  • Ribeiro Lins, Gustav and Arturo Escobar, eds. 2020. World Anthropologies: Disciplinary Transformations Within Systems of Power. London: Routledge
  • Stocking, George, ed. A Franz Boas Reader: The Shaping of American Anthropology 1883-1911. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974
  • Stocking, George, After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951. London: Athlone Press, 1996
  • Van Bremen, Jan and Akitoshi Shimizu, eds. 1999. Anthropology and Colonialism in Asia and Oceania. Richmond, Surrey: RoutledgeCurzon


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules