Photo overlooking the totem pole in the Pitt Rivers Museum


During the Final Honour School, students delve more deeply into the subject areas which have been introduced to them in the first year. They will also decide on which three options they would like to take from the following list of 30 subjects. One option is studied in the second year, two are studied in the third year.

Culture & Society of West Africa

This course provides an empirical foundation and conceptual framework for the academic study of West Africa and its peoples. The course also aims to introduce students to a critical understanding of ethnographic writing on West Africa. The course is organized around a series of lectures and readings which introduce theoretical issues that have developed in the anthropology of West Africa. These will be presented in weekly classes held in conjunction with a film series that introduces a range of ethnographic and wider issues in West African culture and society.

 Content and Structure

The writing of ethnography is necessarily grounded in local concerns and debates and the course will examine how the ethnography of West Africa has contributed to the development of the wider anthropological discipline. The course will introduce the challenges of representing selves and others by examining ethnography’s engagement with key issues in anthropology and by exploring ethnography’s relationship with its own past. 

Four grand themes have animated social anthropology – explorations of modes of organization, modes of thought, modes of production, and modes of transformation. The course will examine ethnographic approaches to each of these themes in the context of West African ethnography. 

Last update on 09/12/16 by Robyn Mason.

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