SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Comparative Media Theory

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1

The course considers the relevance of media and cultural studies' theory to contemporary media in Asia and Africa. Existing media studies mostly lean towards either sociological or literary textual approaches - to media. This course will review both trends and relate them to the critical examination of media as - social and cultural practices to be studied by intensive ethnographic inquiry.

The course will also address a number of themes, including the problems of the Eurocentric nature of media theory, media theory's dependence on Anglophone case studies and the inadequacy of existing kinds of research methods, whether surveys, interviews or ethnography. The course questions assumptions in the analysis of production, distribution and reception, and will consider alternative approaches as diverse kinds of cultural practice. 

Note: Not open to students enrolled in 15PANC009, “Comparative Media Studies”


  • This module is capped at 24 places, with priority to postgraduates in the Department of Anthropology and the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies
  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • a working familiarity with key debates in media and cultural studies as well as anthropology of media with a preliminary understanding of the productive and creative tensions existing between these disciplines;
  • the ability to reflect in a critical and informed manner on media practices in western and non-western contexts with reference to ethnographic examples;
  • a critical understanding of the relationship between ethnography and theory in the construction of anthropological knowledge about media.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules