Anthropology of Europe (SOC3054)

Lecturer(s)Dr. Matt Hodges
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
Duration of ModuleOne term : Term 2
Total Student Study Time150 hours

Module aims

To build on student knowledge of anthropology to consider the contribution of anthropology to the study of the range of European societies and issues.
To gain further insight into Social Anthropology as a discipline.
To gain an understanding of contemporary society through the study of ethnographic material.

Intended learning outcomes

Module-specific skills

Core issues of social differentiation and historical change, modernity, group formation, and micro level politics will be considered in the context of ethnographies of European communities. The questions considered will be: What are the key processes of historical transformation impacting on modern European societies, and how does anthropology help us to understand them? How are European identities formed? How are they mobilised in situations of conflict? Students will be required to master a body of ethnographic material drawn from European sources.

Discipline-specific skills

The ability to critically analyse empirical data and theoretical work; the ability to relate a body of knowledge to a specific context. Competence to think clearly and argue logically about different cultures. The ability to express ideas both orally and in writing.

Personal and key skills

The ability to select appropriately from a range of suggested material and to present key arguments clearly. The capacity to empathise with minorities and to appreciate that the familiar is not necessarily the norm.

Learning and teaching methods

Students will be taught by means of lectures, tutorials, the use of ethnographic film, and seminar discussion.


Seminar readings and presentations; one 2,000 word essay.


One essay of 2,000 words (40%); a one-and-a-half hour examination (60%).

Syllabus plan

Key themes in the anthropology of Europe:
- The origins of anthropological study of Europe. Honour and shame in the Mediterranean. The movement towards conducting anthropology "at home"
- Anthropology with marginal peoples in state societies. Anthropology of community and identity. Issues of macro-micro levels of study.
- Nation states and nationalism. The "Invention of Tradition". The impact of globalisation.
- Symbols and the creation of ethnic identities. Ethnic violence. Anthropology of the Basque Country. How to become Basque, Spanish, French, and/or European. Use and manipulation of history, ethnic identity, in the Basque conflict. Demystifying "terrorism".
- The anthropology of modernity. The experience of rapid social change and historical "acceleration". From "traditional" to "risk" societies.
- European "unification". Studying elites. Contemporary migration within the EU.
- Anthropology of tourism. Rural and heritage tourism, incomers and second home owners, conflict over resources and identity, revitalising European rituals.
- Modern religious movements. On the "disenchantment" and "re-enchantment" of the world. Contemporary witchcraft in the UK.
- New reproductive technologies. Transforming and redefining "nature".

Indicative basic reading list

Boissevain, Jeremy. Coping with Tourists, Berg 1996.
Davis, John. People of the Mediterranean. Routledge 1977.
Delamont, Sara. Appetites and Identities: An Introduction to the Social Anthropology of Western Europe, Routledge 1995.
Gledhill, John. Power and its Disguises: Anthropological Perspectives on Politics. Pluto Press 1994.
V. Goddard, J. Llobera, and C. Shore. The Anthropology of Europe: Identities and Boundaries in Conflict. Berg, 1994.
Jackson, Anthony. Anthropology at Home, Tavistock 1987.
McDonald, Sharon. Inside European Identities. Berg 1993.
Mitchell, Jon. Ambivalent Europeans: Ritual, Memory and the Public Sphere in Malta. Routledge 2002.
Rabinow, Paul. Anthropos Today: Reflections on Modern Equipment. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.