nl en

Economy and Ecology: Dichotomy and Practice



This course is open to the students of the Bachelor in Heritage and Society (Archeology).
Please also see the "Registration" instruction below.

Language of Instruction

Lectures are taught in English.
Examination (assignment and exam) will be held in English.


This course introduces students to anthropological perspectives on the relationship between political economy and the environment. Ethnographers have long argued that “nature” and “culture”—including the cultural products and systems we label economic—are not discrete spheres but tightly interwoven; many peoples do not, in fact, distinguish the two at all. The course is structured, accordingly, around exploring dynamic interactions between political-economic systems, environments, and human bodies that lead us to question dualistic thinking about nature and culture. Topics include critiques of “natural” disasters; the uneven distribution of environmental benefits and burdens along lines of gender, class, race and other categories; the commoditization of non-human life; and ethnographies of climate change. In thinking with these cases, we will explore how efforts to distinguish the natural and the cultural often work, particularly in advanced industrial economies, to legitimate social and environmental inequalities.

Learning goals

  • Acquire knowledge about historical and contemporary approaches in environmental anthropology and their relationship to political economy and ecology

  • Gain insight into how these ideas can illuminate current social and environmental problems through topical lectures bringing them into dialogue with ethnographic case studies

  • Exercise in basic academic skills


Dates and room numbers can be found on the website

Mode of instruction

Total 5 ECTS = 140 study hours (sbu)

Lectures (6 x 2 hours = 12h / 18 sbu)
Written assignment (1800 words = 24 sbu)
Literature (approx. 580 pages = 98 sbu)

Assessment method

Final (take-home) examination (100% of final mark).

The exam must be graded minimum 6,0 to complete the course; if unsatisfactory it can be re-taken a maximum of one time.


Blackboard will be used to announce the detailed course program including the reading list. Students can register from 2 weeks before the start of the course on Blackboard.


A selection of articles and chapters (to be accessed via the digital library): see the list on Blackboard.


Archeology students will be registered for lectures in Usis by the Student Services Centre of the Faculty of Social Sciences. NO registration is required for the mid-term exam.


Dr. Andrew Littlejohn