Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitAnthropology
OfferedClayton Second semester 2014 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Mr James Scambary


Previously coded ANY2350


This unit will introduce students to an anthropological approach to politics. For this unit, politics does not simply include 'elements of culture'; politics is also deeply cultural from the start. Combining classical and current materials from the field of anthropology, this unit will focus on everyday life and how ordinary subjects (also "people in power") construe politics. In particular, this unit will examine how power works at different levels such as bodily practices, interpersonal interaction, community life, public and private spaces, the order of the state, and in realms directly beyond the precincts of the state. Based on ethnographic examples from Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and Latin America, this unit will introduce students to key concepts and debates in anthropology of politics and empower students with skills and insights to have a fresh, rich understanding of what politics is and how politics is (un)done.


Students who successfully complete this unit should be able to:

  1. Have a sophisticated introductory comprehension of key concepts and debates in the anthropology of politics;
  2. Equip themselves with a fresh and nuanced understanding of the importance, scope and distinctiveness of anthropology's contribution to the analysis of politics and power in Western, non-Western, postcolonial countries;
  3. Engage in a critical appraisal of different theoretical approaches and methodological issues to the study of politics as conceived in this unit;
  4. Appreciate and get familiar with the ongoing reinvention of the "anthropology of the political" inspired by post-structuralism and postcolonial theory;
  5. Grasp, critique, and develop an argument, and demonstrate its effective application. This unit aims to further sharpen students' argumentative skills through oral presentations and question-answer form of interaction with the lecturer as well as peer students.
  6. Understand better the working of the principles and practices of current, modern politics in the "West" and in the "East" alike.


ThinkPiece Presentation and Class Participation: 10%
Short Essay: 10%
Mid Term Exam: 30 %
Major Essay: 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

One 2-hour seminar lecture per week
One 1-hour tutorial per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Two gateway units in International Relations or Politics or Anthropology or History or Sociology or a cognate discipline or by permission.