721 Ethnographic Encounters

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

721 Ethnographic Encounters introduces students on the MA/MRes Social Anthropology to the research interests and regional/topical specialisms of members of the SOAS Anthropology Department, the variety of theoretical questions and field sites that make up contemporary anthropology, and the specifics of how anthropologists work, design projects, gather their data, and write about their findings. Through a series of conversational lectures/seminars with members of the Anthropology faculty, guided by the module convenor, students will be introduced to the research process behind each academic’s publications, shedding light on their methods and offering insight into the less-often discussed practicalities and peculiarities of conducting ethnographic fieldwork in the contemporary world.

As a core element of the MA Social Anthropology, this module offers an opportunity to learn from active field researchers, complementing the theoretical concepts and ethnographic texts presented in 701 Contemporary Anthropological Theory and the hands-on ethnographic methods training in 702 Ethnographic Research Methods . Through direct interaction with experienced ethnographers, including ample time for discussion and elaboration, students gain a realistic sense of how anthropologists set out into the world to gain ethnographic understanding and will be better equipped to undertake field research of their own.


Compulsory module for all students on:

  • MA Social Anthropology
  • MA Social Anthropology + Intensive Language

Guided option for students on:

  • MRes Social Anthropology
  • MRes Social Anthropology + Intensive Language

Note: This module is open only to students enrolled on one of the above programmes.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Understand and discuss the breadth of and variety of methods and topics in contemporary anthropological research
  • Identify and describe the primary research themes and areas of regional expertise of members of the anthropology department
  • Ask appropriate questions of anthropologists in order to situate their methods in relation to their research interests and theoretical approach (and vice versa), and convey the findings in an accessible format
  • Have a realistic sense of what ethnographic fieldwork entails
  • Imagine and develop a preliminary research plan inspired or influenced by the ongoing field research of SOAS anthropologists

Suggested reading

Representative readings:

  • Allen, Lori (2020) A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press
  • Behrouzan, Orkideh (2016) Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press
  • Crewe, Emma (2015) The House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs' Work. London: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Gygi, Fabio R. (2019) 'Things that Believe: Talismans, Amulets, Dolls, and How to Get Rid of Them'. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, (45) 2, pp 423-452
  • Hull, Elizabeth (2017) Contingent Citizens: Professional Aspiration in a South African Hospital. London: Bloomsbury
  • Janson, Marloes (2020) Crossing Religious Boundaries: Islam, Christianity, and 'Yoruba Religion' in Lagos, Nigeria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Klein, Jakob (2020) 'Ambivalent Regionalism and the Promotion of a New National Staple Food: Reinventing Potatoes in Inner Mongolia and Yunnan'. Global Food History, (6) 2, pp 143-163
  • Leite, Naomi (2017) Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging. Berkeley: University of California Press
  • Retsikas, Kostas (2020) A Synthesis of Time: Zakat, Islamic Micro-finance and the Question of the Future in 21st Century Indonesia. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Salih, Ruba (2020) The Political Cultures of Palestinian Refugees: Right to Rights and Right to Return. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Simpson, Edward (2013) The political biography of an earthquake: Aftermath and amnesia in Gujarat, India. London: Hurst


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules