ANTH402-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Theory in Contemporary Anthropology: Issues & Debates

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


This course addresses selected, current issues and debates of a theoretical, methodological and interpretative nature. We will explore the premises of anthropological discourse and question central conceptual tools of the discipline, identifying biases inscribed into these approaches. This course is designed to give students a solid theoretical foundation for understanding social and cultural issues from an anthropological perspectives and for conducting their future research.

This course will address theorizing as itself a form of social praxis. Dominant strands of contemporary anthropology see theory as reflexive and (self-) critical, as interactive and evolving, and as implicated in constructivist–deconstructivism moves. This entails putting the interpretive and agentive faculties of social actor's centre-stage. The course will address the central paradox of modern theoretical reflection, which on the one hand sees theory directly implicated in (and not outside of) its subject matter, while on the other hand puts emphasis on the constitutive break with social praxis, and the effects of this break on the mode of theorizing. The course will look into constitutive premises of anthropological discourse and will in an exemplary manner question central conceptual tools of the discipline, which are too easily taken for granted. The course will also address representational biases inscribed into approaches informing the discipline and will point out limitations of what we can legitimately attempt to understand.

Learning Outcomes

  • After taking this course, students are expected:
  • To have a good understanding of the important issues and theories in contemporary cultural anthropology.
  • To have in-depth knowledge of at least one contemporary theorist or topical area (ideally related to their own research.)
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable 2023

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 09:00 - 12:00 Jack Erskine 241
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun

Contact Person

Zhifang Song

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,990.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All ANTH402 Occurrences

  • ANTH402-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023