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Approaches to Diversity: Anthropology




Admissions requirements

Global Challenges: Diversity


This course introduces classical and more recent anthropological approaches to society, community, and diversity. It grounds the social analysis of human life in anthropology’s conceptual archive, and students will engage with disciplinary debates on the articulation of social concerns across time and space. Notions of social structure and function, interpretation and symbols, ritual and language, power and persuasion will be debated. This course addresses human difference, stability, belonging, and conflict through a comparative perspective. Small-scale and complex societies, western and non-western communities, historical and contemporary categories are analyzed together, in an effort to destabilize assumptions about what is socially or politically obvious, natural, or inevitable. The focus is on how ethnographic approaches may illuminate everyday practices as well as imaginary forms that are 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 or relative novelty of what is termed globalization; the influence of political economy and world-system processes in conditioning societies; the bureaucratic and spatial forms that have developed across the globe for human settlement and interaction; and the contingent circumstances which converge to produce natives, strangers, aliens, and refugees.

Course objectives

The course objectives are as follows. Students will gain confidence and proficiency in social science analysis in English. They will enhance their ability to understand complex academic articles, and write a midterm assignment and final paper illustrating their analytical capacities. An emphasis on class discussion will improve confidence in public speaking and participating in intellectual debate. The final paper is an opportunity to synthesize diverse anthropological approaches to critical social issues, and students will be encouraged to formulate ambitious topics.

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

  • Become familiar with historical and contemporary anthropological approaches to the study of diverse social forms (nations, societies, communities, groups), as well as to core social concerns such as reproduction, exchange, and conflict.

  • Be able to think and write critically about the conditions and paradoxes of social life.

  • Be able to conceptualize the relationship between different spatial scales that condition social life, as well as some of the macro-level social and economic influences which 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 aims to impart texture to distinct themes.


  • In-class participation – 15% – Ongoing

  • Midterm Assignment – 25% – Week 5

  • Final Exam – 30% Week 8

  • Individual final essay – 30% – Week 8 (Sunday)


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 serves as support for updates on the course, make available the readings, guidelines and the submission of your work (final essay).


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


Dr. Ajay Gandhi (