SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Perspectives On Development

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1

This option course starts with a theoretical overview of the relationship between Development and Anthropology and how it has evolved. This overview allows key concepts and arguments to be identified in both applied ‘development anthropology’ and the ‘anthropology of development’. Concepts and debates are then probed further through examination of the politics of aid, donors, states, shifting aid frameworks and concrete intervention programmes. 

This involves close reading of anthropological studies throwing light on:

  • the nature of policy-making, bureaucracy and programmes in a variety of sectors;
  • livelihood and food security;
  • reproductive health, human rights, water or others

Since the market has become a core metaphor of globalized development, attention is given to markets and market forces, and the effects of neo-liberal policy on world food security. 

The course then explores possible alternatives to the market – Fair Trade, self-help and cooperation – evaluating each against in-depth ethnographic research. The course then turns to look at the role of migration (local and global) and development, looking in particular at the changing nature of international migration, issues of illegality and the potential role of remittances. 

We then turn to the debate concerning scientific and ‘indigenous’ knowledge in development, discourses on human rights, and an understanding of violence particularly as this plays out in complex emergencies and humanitarian situations.

Note: Not open to students enrolled in 15PANC090, "Anthropology of Development"


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

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the course, students should:

  • have a grasp of the key debates in the anthropology of development;
  • have acquired the capacity to understand development encounters from different points of view, and in different regional and institutional contexts;
  • have developed the capacity for conceptual and ethical reflection on what and how anthropologists can contribute in practice.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules