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Two things make Anthropology stand out among the other social sciences and humanities. 

  • First, anthropology emerged from the aim of recording and understanding the great diversity of human life and experience.  
  • Second, modern anthropology has developed a unique approach to social research, called ethnography. Ethnographers explore social issues through in-depth personal fieldwork. 
  • In the first year of our undergraduate programme, we investigate how questions about humanity, diversity and identity have been framed and debated in modern African thought. 
  • In the second year, we introduce the experience of fieldwork as a technique to explore both the lifeworlds of African cities, such as Johannesburg and the ways in which our bodies become so important to our experiences of social life. 
  • In the third year, we explore the global history of modern anthropological thought, examine critical concepts for thinking through questions of race and racism, survey important sub-fields such as medical or legal and political anthropology, and introduce students to the practice of presenting social research in public fora, such as our own Anthropology Museum. 
1st Year

Introduction to Anthropology - ANTH1002A (S1)

This course provides a foundation in the basic anthropological concepts of society and culture. It also provides insight into the processes of localised and global transformation. The course enables an understanding of cultural diversity and change. It specifically focusses on acquiring an introductory knowledge of social and cultural transformations in southern Africa.

Culture Today - ANTH1001A (S2)

This course introduces students to contemporary anthropological ideas and practice. Its main themes are the nature of anthropological fieldwork and power as a cultural resource.

It also examines the production of ethnography, how cultures influence our identity, and aspects of applied anthropology.

Through the case-study method, students gain an insight into the central role played by anthropologists as analysts of culture and diversity in contemporary South Africa and elsewhere in the modern world.

3rd Year

Development of Anthropological Thought - ANTH3007A (S1)

This course examines the intellectual and historical development of anthropological ideas and methods from their early roots in the 16th century through to the state of the discipline today.

Anthropology of Material Culture - ANTH3008A (S1)

The course explores the varied cultural means by which people attribute significance (or “value”) to the world of objects. The course is anchored in Anthropology but draws upon an interdisciplinary body of theory.

Some of the disciplines drawn upon include:

  • Semiotics
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Art criticism
  • Cultural studies
  • Feminist theory
  • Science studies

Anthropology of Medicine and Body - ANTH3001A (S2)

Medical anthropology provides a comparative perspective on the social and cultural aspects of sickness, the body and healing. This course examines different theoretical paradigms in medical anthropology; anthropological interventions in public health care; and also the nature of folk healing and divination. The course is recommended to students in the humanities and health sciences who wish to understand the impact of culture on sickness and healing.

Select Topics: Secrecy - ANTH3004A (S2)

2nd Year

Select Topics 'Life World's of the City' - ANTH2004A (S1)

Youth and Nationhood - ANTH2007A (S2)

This course engages students in thinking about their relationship with urban cultural life. Drawing on literature that exposes the relationship between culture and capital. The course interrogates the urban condition of commodification and the growing privatisation of public space.

Topics include:

  • Cultural mediation and control
  • Radical traditions of cultural/artistic agency