Collection Development Policy - Anthropology & Sociology

SOAS Library
  • Context
  • Collection
  • Coverage
  • E-Resources
  • Future


1. The Department

Since its foundation in 1948, the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS has maintained a distinctive identity. As part of the largest concentration of Africa and Asia scholars in the United Kingdom, the department benefits from close working relations with experts in Asian and African languages, as well as on the full range of arts and social sciences applied to Africa and Asia.

The department offers undergraduate, MSc, and MPhil/PhD programmes.

The department has 39 academic staff and 786.6 FTE students, including 398.5 undergraduates, 294.6 taught postgraduates and 93.5 research students.

For more information see:

2. Centres

2.1 Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies
  • The Centre aims to foster and promote a supportive research and teaching environment for scholars concerned with issues of migration and diaspora, drawing on the skills and expertise of academics situated in disciplines such as anthropology, history, development studies, politics, religion, music and art history.
  • For more information see: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies
2.2 SOAS Food Studies Centre
  • The SOAS Food Studies Centre is an interdisciplinary centre dedicated to the study of the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of food, historically and in the contemporary moment, from production, to exchange, to preparation, to consumption.
  • For more information see: SOAS Food Studies Centre


3. History

  • Throughout its history the Library has actively collected material on anthropology and sociology.
  • The Library has important collections on the anthropology and ethnology of the regions and individual countries of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Islands of the Pacific, including works by, and about, noted anthropologists.
  • The Library holds general theoretical works, dictionaries and encyclopaedias on anthropology, ethnology and sociology.
  • The Library has collected material on religions and the study of religions; on ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples; on music and ethnomusicology; on traditional agriculture and ethno-botany; on human rights; on Islamic, customary and traditional law; on land rights and development studies; on mass media, film and broadcasting; and on popular fiction. This material, including general and interdisciplinary works, and publications on specific countries and regions, is relevant to the study of anthropology.

4. Languages

The Library collects material in:

  • Some European languages, especially English, for general, cross-regional or global aspects and for the discipline
  • Also the languages of Asia, Africa and the Middle East for regional publications
  • For more details see the General Collection Development Policy

5. Classification

Material on general, cross-regional or global aspects on the discipline of Anthropology and Sociology are classified using Dewey Decimal Classification. All books are prefixed using the following:

  • All main books are prefixed “A”
  • Large books are prefixed "LA"
  • Reference books are prefixed "Ref A"
  • Large reference books are prefixed "L Ref A"

Material relating to Asia, Africa and the Middle East are mostly classified using the Dewey Decimal Classification (with various letter prefixes), but in some regional collections alternative classification schemes are in use [see specific regions for details].

6. Special Collections

Fuurer-Haimendorf, Christoph von (PP MS 19)
  • The archive contains diaries (mostly in German), anthropological field notes, published and unpublished papers (in English) relating to peoples of India of Professor Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf (born 1909). Special Officer Subansiri, External Affairs Department, Government of India, 1944-45; Advisor to HEH the Nizam’s Government and Professor of Anthropology in the Osmania University, 1945-1949; Professor of Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies 1951 until 1976. 56 boxes & outsize items.
  • For more information see
Earthy, Emily Dora (MS 380515)
  • The archive contains field work and language material of Emily Dora Earthy, missionary in Mozambique 1917-1930.
  • The collection contains her manuscript notes on Valenge women which were published under the title Valenge Women: the Social and Economic Life of the Valenge Women of Portuguese East Africa, in 1933. 3 boxes.
  • For more information see Archives


Within the School, the Library supports the teaching and research needs of:

The Library aims to collect materials to a teaching level for all courses taught by the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and its Centres. It will also collect teaching level material that falls within the discipline of Anthropology and Sociology that is required to support other courses taught at SOAS.


The collection aims to collect material to a research level for all the subject areas detailed in section 8 below :

8. Detailed Structure

The main subject areas of collecting for the Anthropology and Sociology Department in Africa, China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East are detailed below (based on the Conspectus Level). For details on the Conspectus Level see Collection Development Policy .

  • Social sciences
  • Sociology & anthropology (Interdisciplinary works on society)
  • Social interaction
  • Social Process
    • Social change (Including contact between cultures)
    • Conflict (Including terrorism)
  • Factors affecting social behaviour
  • Population (Including genocide)
  • Movement of people
  • Social groups
    • Age groups
    • Men and women
    • Social class
    • Religious groups
    • Language groups
    • Racial, ethnic, national groups
    • Occupational and miscellaneous groups
    • Culture & institutions
      • Subcultures
      • Political institutions
      • Economic institutions
      • Specific aspects of culture (not provided for elsewhere – education, language, medicine, art)
      • Religious institutions
      • Institutions pertaining to the sexes
      • Marriage and the family (Including kinship)
      • Institutions pertaining to death
    • Communities
      • Planning and development (Including community participation)
      • Movement of people to, from, within communities
      • Structure
      • Specific kinds of communities (Including  rural & urban)
    • Social welfare
    • Customs, etiquette & folklore
      • Costume
      • Personal appearance (Including tattooing)
    • Customs of life cycle & domestic life
    • Death customs
    • General customs
      • Food and drink
    • Etiquette (Manners)
    • Folklore
    • Customs of war & diplomacy

For details on the following subject areas see the relevant Subject Statements:


9. Major Databases

General Databases
  • Access World News
  • Anthrosource
  • Cambridge Books Online (e-books)
  • Cambridge Journals Online
  • BBC Monitoring Library
  • Dawsonera (e-books)
  • EBSCOhost
  • InformaWorld
  • IngentaConnect
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences(IBSS)
  • ISI Web of Science/Knowledge
  • OCLC FirstSearch
  • Oxford Journals Online
  • Oxford Reference Online
  • Periodicals Archive Online
  • Project MUSE
  • ScienceDirect
  • Wiley InterScience
  • Zetoc
Regional Databases
  • Africa Wide
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies
  • Brill Online (Encyclopaedia of Islam etc.)
  • China Academic Journals
  • Chinese Studies Online
  • Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1974-1996
  • Indiastat
  • Korean-studies Information Service System
  • Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies
  • Nikkei Telecom 21
  • Oxford Islamic Studies
  • Taiwan Electronic Periodical Services

10. Online Subject Guide

For more information and online resources see the Anthropology Subject Guide

For regional specific databases see Subject Statements

For other databases SOAS subscribes to see A-Z databases list


11. Trends for the Future

Move towards more online full-text resources where possible and appropriate:

  • As the national collection for Asian, African and Middle Eastern studies the Library  seeks to retain one print copy of selected scholarly titles and also provide electronic access to these materials (e-journals, databases, e-books etc.), where available
  • For subjects of a theoretical, general or non-regional nature the electronic version (e-journals, databases, e-books etc.) is favoured