Political Anthropology, introductory course

Course content

Political Anthropology is concerned with the way resources, power and authority is distributed in different societies. More specifically it explores the negotiation of social possibilities and limitations, the constructions of social categories and positions as well as differentiations- and discrimination processes. From studies of close relations to analyses of global constellations, political anthropology investigates ideas and ideologies of community and society and illuminates people's attempts of realising, upholding, and preventing these. Hence, Political Anthropology is concerned with both the global and the local. It considers national policies and political decisions as well as unofficial connections, international networks and illegal organisations. The unique methods of anthropology makes us capable of both illuminating the official "visible" policy and its consequences as well as the unofficial and "invisible" political positions and processes. In this way Political Anthropology elaborates our knowledge of the world's political diversity and constructions of power. The aim of this basic course is to introduce and discuss key theoretical and thematic developments in Political Anthropology. The course will depart from classical anthropological studies of stateless societies and go on to engage with themes such as states and governance; authority and political forms; constructions of political identities; and social transformations and reconfigurations. A crosscutting subject throughout the course will be the ways in which political forms and practices are situated in local as well as global contexts.

Learning outcome

By the end of the course the student will:

  • Have an understanding of classical contributions and standpoints in the field of political anthropology
  • Be able to draw upon the key debates and concerns of political anthropology in identifying manifestation of the political across different domains 
  • Be able to choose and apply relevant theoretical tools for analysis

Combination of lectures, discussions, and student presentations.

BSc-, Credit- and all international students: 500 pages obligatory literature. 

Course literature will be available in Absalon on the course website.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio exam:
Length: The portfolio exam can be taken individually or in groups of maximum four students. The portfolio exam consists of 3-7 submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must not exceed 30,000 keystrokes for a single student. For groups of two students the maximum is 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students the maximum is 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students the maximum is 50,000 keystrokes.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Exam
  • 35
  • Course Preparation
  • 133
  • English
  • 210