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Regular version of the site

Social and Economic Anthropology

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
2 year, 3 module


Kormina, Jeanne

Kruglova, Anna

Course Syllabus


This is an introductory course in anthropology for students in humanities and social sciences. Contemporary social and cultural anthropology is positioned on the boundary between humanities, such as literature and history, and social sciences. As a result, anthropologists practice a more self-reflexive, personalized approach to their tasks, while also striving for a particular kind of objectivity. The main product of anthropology is a specific genre of literature called ethnography – a detailed and contextual account of a particular locality, activity or situation, based on long-term personal presence and observation by an anthropologist or a team of anthropologists, who possibly also take part in the activities described. Born out of the colonial encounter between so-called “civilized” and “primitive” people, the discipline of anthropology has been particularly, and at times bitterly, aware of theembeddedness of any knowledge in violence and power. The discipline’s principles and agendasare under constant revision. The very broad comparative and global scope of study, however, remains unchanged. Anthropologists arecommitted to exploring, voicing, and finding fair generalizable languages for the very differentopinions of what it is to be human and how humans should live on this planet. The course is subdivided into two parts. The first part is a brief introduction to the epistemological, methodological and ethical foundations of anthropology to studying human social and symbolic worlds.We will learn key anthropological concepts, the basics of long-term participant observation and ethnographic writing. The larger second part of the courseis a series of introductions to some classical themes and topics thatcontinue to be productive for anthropologists working in every part of the world. By reading and discussing both classical and contemporary texts on these topics, we shall explore the ways in which the insights and debates originating in localizedor specific contexts contribute to our understanding of humanity as a whole, and vice versa.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Providing students with the basic theories and paradigms used by transnational, contemporary academic anthropologists (as exemplified by the international top-10 journals in the discipline)
  • Teaching students to use basic methods and analytical tools specific to the anthropology as a discipline, with special attention to their difference and complementarity to those in sociology.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to see the problems and aspects of contemporary life in their interconnectedness (“holistically”)
  • An understandingof how to apply anthropological analysis for studying any aspect of social life, discerning the advantages and disadvantagesof anthropological optic
  • Familiarity with the general historical development of the field of anthropology as a part of the development of Western critical and social theory
  • Skills of conference-style discussion.
  • Skills of reflexive assessment of the scholar’s position in the field, among her informants, as well as in social studies, among her colleagues; knowing how to adjust these relationship accordingly
  • Understanding advantages and disadvantages of a general comparativist approach
  • Understanding the general importance of cultural and historical contexts, and the ability to identify which contexts are especially necessary to understand the local situation
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Anthropology. Origins and key concepts. (Jeanne Kormina)
  • Theory and Methods. (Anna Kruglova)
  • Identity. Construction of cultural and social boundaries. (Anna Kruglova)
  • Reciprocity. Value. (Anna Kruglova)
  • Kinship and family. Social and political organization (Anna Kruglova)
  • Ritual action (Anna Kruglova)
  • Rationality. Magic, science and religion. (Jeanne Kormina)
  • Nature and culture. (Anna Kruglova)
  • Globalization. Imitation and power. (Anna Kruglova)
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • blocking Final exam
    Final grade is calculated based on the results for the midterm exam and final exam: G final for the course = 0,40*G midterm test + 0,60*G exam The grade decimals are rounded according to math rules, with the exception of G final exam < 4 which is not rounded and is a fail grade. For example 3,999 is rounded to 3, but 4,51 is rounded to 5.
  • non-blocking Mid-term test
    Mid-term tests cannot be re-taken. If a student missed the mid-term test on account of illness or other circumstances stipulated in HSE rules as valid reasons to miss an examination, there will be an opportunity to take a make-up test within two weeks of the original test date. All tests are taken online, on Google forms. The questions for the make-up test will come from a pool of questions different from the original test.
  • non-blocking Response papers
    2 response papers worth 15% each.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2021/2022 3rd module
    0.3 * Mid-term test + 0.3 * Response papers + 0.4 * Final exam


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bourgois, P. I., & Schonberg, J. (2009). Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=407430
  • Spradley, J. W., & McCurdy, D. W. (2013). Conformity and Conflict: Pearson New International Edition : Readings in Cultural Anthropology: Vol. Pearson New International Ed. Pearson.
  • Tsing, A. L. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World : On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=980728
  • Victor Turner, Roger D Abrahams, & Alfred Harris. (2011). The Ritual Process : Structure and Anti-Structure. Routledge.
  • Эриксен Т.Х. Что такое антропология? / Т.Х. Эриксен. - Москва : ВШЭ, 2014. - 238 с. - ISBN 978-5-7598-1096-4. - URL: https://ibooks.ru/bookshelf/340647/reading (дата обращения: 12.10.2020). - Текст: электронный.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Boas, F. (1896). The Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.4.103.901
  • Claude Levi-Strauss. (2014). Tristes Tropiques. Penguin Classics.
  • Clifford Geertz. (2008). The Interpretation Of Cultures. Basic Books.
  • D. Graeber. (2001). Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value : The False Coin of Our Own Dreams: Vol. First edition. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Daniel Dayan. (1994). D. Handelman, Models and Mirrors : Towards an Anthropology of Public Events. L’Homme, 34(130), 158–161.
  • John L. Comaroff, & Jean Comaroff. (2009). Ethnicity, Inc. University of Chicago Press.
  • Karina Urbach. (2008). Royal Kinship. Anglo-German Family Networks 1815-1918. De Gruyter Saur.
  • Lindquist, G. (2009). Conjuring Hope : Healing and Magic in Contemporary Russia. New York: Berghahn Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=761604
  • Malinowski, B. (2002). Argonauts of the Western Pacific : An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. Routledge.
  • Mauss, M. (2002). The Gift : The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Routledge.
  • Sherry B. Ortner. (2008). Anthropology and Social Theory : Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject. Duke University Press Books.
  • Tim Ingold. (2011). Being Alive : Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Routledge.
  • VARENNE, H. (1982). Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage. JEANNE FAVRET-SAADA. American Ethnologist ; Volume 9, Issue 3, Page 597-598 ; ISSN 0094-0496. https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.1982.9.3.02a00230
  • Watson, J. B. (1969). Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People . Roy A. Rappaport. American Anthropologist ; Volume 71, Issue 3, Page 527-529 ; ISSN 0002-7294 1548-1433. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1969.71.3.02a00310