SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Issues in the Anthropology of Gender

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2
The aims of this course are to encourage students to explore the literatures on gender and sexuality; and then to bring these ideas to critical readings of ethnographies. Students will develop anthropological perspectives on the construction of the feminine and the masculine; on relations among women and men; and on sexuality. We will be exploring the ways in which gender, sex (‘biology’) and sexuality have been differently produced in different times and places, and we will develop an appreciation of the historical and cultural specificity of contemporary Euro-American ideas about gendering. We will do this through approaching key moments in the development of gender theory, and a tight focus on some readings which have become classics or helped in some way define those key moments or signal shifts in thinking. We will then use diverse ethnographic examples and an implicit comparative perspective to think through the various theoretical standpoints.


  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

After completion of the course, students will:

  • Know a range of core anthropological debates on gender and sexuality
  • Be familiar with a varied set of ethnographic examples that demonstrate the cultural and historical specificity of gender and sexuality
  • Know how to combine theory (concepts) and ethnography (case studies) in a coherent yet creative manner 
  • Be confident to articulate and express critical takes on gender and sexuality
  • Feel like a contributor to (rather than consumer of) anthropologies of gender

Suggested reading

There is no single, recommended text for this course, but you may find any of the following useful as reference sources. You may decide to buy one or two, but why not wait until you see our full reading list, with different weekly readings being a combination of theory (concepts) and ethnography (case studies).

  • Cornwall & Lindisfarne (eds.) (1994) Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies
  • Hill Collins, P. (1990) Black Feminist Thought
  • Lewin E. (ed.) (2006) Feminist Anthropology: A Reader
  • Medhurst & Munt (eds.) (1997) Lesbian and Gay Studies: A Critical Introduction.
  • Mohanty, Talpade & Torres (eds) (1991) Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism.
  • Moore H. (1988) Feminism and Anthropology.
  • Moore H. (1994) A Passion for Difference.
  • Pilcher J. (2004) Fifty Key Concepts in Gender Studies
  • Stryker & Whittle (2006) The Transgender Reader. 


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules