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Anthropology of Difference




Admissions requirements

Global Challenges: Diversity

NOTE: in 2017-2018 this course was titles Approaches to Diversity: Anthropology; students who already succesfully completed that course cannot enroll in The Anthropology of Difference.


This course concerns classical and contemporary anthropological approaches to society, community and diversity. It grounds the analysis of social difference in anthropology’s conceptual archive, and engages with disciplinary debates on cultural forms and political arrangements. The varieties of social habitation, navigation, distinction, and translation will be examined across time and space. As such, this course addresses human difference through a comparative perspective. Small-scale and complex societies, western and non-western communities, historic and contemporary taxonomies, will be scrutinized together, destabilizing what is understood as obvious, natural, or inevitable. The focus is on ethnographic approaches that illuminate everyday practices as well as immaterial forms at the heart of social life.

Students will discuss a number of issues which pertain to contemporary global society. These include the role of colonialism, technology, urbanization, and modernity in shaping cultures; the practices, institutions, and worldviews by which communities are differentiated; the historical lineages and emergent processes that undergird globalization; the influence of political economy and world-system processes in conditioning mobility and opportunity; the bureaucratic and spatial forms that have developed for managing settlement and interaction; and the symbolic and administrative logics which produce categories such as natives, strangers, aliens, and refugees.

Course objectives

Students will learn how to utilize the conceptual vocabulary within socio-cultural anthropology and apply it to other disciplinary arenas. They will enhance their comprehension of interpretive and comparative social science inquiry, and, through their writing, improve their analytical capacities. Finally, an emphasis on class discussion will improve verbal argumentation abilities.

After engaging with the course lectures and readings, students can expect to:

  • Become familiar with historic and contemporary anthropological approaches to the study of diverse social forms, as well as to widespread concerns such as reproduction, exchange, and conflict.

  • Be able to conceptualize the relationship between immaterial conceptions, spatial scales, representational forms, and administrative logics that shape culture.

  • Evaluate anthropology in the context of related fields - such as history, geography, sociology, and political science – and be able to analyze their salient differences in approaching society, community, and diversity.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Two weekly seminar meetings comprise the course. Lectures that contextualize and elaborate the assigned material will be supplemented by intensive classroom discussion that explores distinct themes.


  • In-class participation – 10% – Ongoing

  • Midterm Exam – 20% – Week 4

  • Portfolio – 40% -- Comprised of 4 Reading Reflections in Week 1, 3, 5, 7 & Summary

  • Final Essay – 30% – Week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The Blackboard site of the course will contain the course readings and serve as the repository for reflections.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Ajay Gandhi