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What sorts of inequalities are intensifying in the contemporary world? What dynamics are producing those intensifications? And how have anthropologists historically conceptualized the inequalities with which they gain firsthand experience through long-term fieldwork? Growing numbers of political and economic anthropologists are committed to exploring the ideological and material means by which systems of inequality are created, sustained, misrecognized, and challenged. Drawing principally on Marxist anthropology, post-structuralism and post-colonialism, this subject looks cross-culturally to explore the interrelationships between diverse forms and sources of power, the roles of colonialism and corporate globalization in configuring and sustaining local relations of inequality, and the rise of resistance movements that explicitly challenge exclusions based on class, gender, and ethnicity. Special attention will be paid to the effects of multinational corporations on local power relations and patterns of inequality throughout the world via brand marketing, legal reform, and corporate social responsibility. Case studies will be drawn from Latin America, North America, Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- Have a thorough understanding of the way in which anthropologists have approached the study of political organisation in a range of cultural contexts;
- Have critically and comparatively examined anthropological theories about the persistence of inequality in communities throughout the world from Latin America to Africa;
- Have acquired knowledge of the interplay between domination and resistance in the context of colonial and post-colonial states;
- Have an appreciation of the ways in which the practices of multinational corporations are shifting local power relations and reconfiguring patterns of domination in the contemporary world;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the diverse contexts in which political anthropologists have developed their theories of power, difference, and inequality;
- Be able to communicate in a variety of written and oral formats and to collaborate effectively in groups with people whose disciplinary and cultural backgrounds may differ from their own.
Last updated: 30 July 2023