Political Anthropology, introductory course
Political Anthropology is concerned with the distribution of resources, power and authority in and between different societies, communities and networks. More specifically, it explores people’s negotiations of social possibilities and limitations, constructions of hierarchical socio-cultural categories and positions, as well as broader processes of differentiation and discrimination.
From studies of close-knit communities to global constellations, political anthropology investigates people's attempts to realize, uphold, or change communities, societies and networks. Hence, political anthropology is concerned with local, national and global levels in their mutual historical interconnections, as it considers national policies and political decisions as well as unofficial connections, international networks and illegal organizations.
The ethnographic approach of anthropology illuminates the official "visible" policy and its consequences as well as unofficial and "invisible" political positions and processes, often in the form of infrapolitics from below. In addition, political anthropology unpacks how cultural representations in and of society are inflected by inequal social relationships and produce political outcomes, and pays attention to cultural claims and – often decolonizing – counterclaims. In this way, political anthropology deepens our knowledge and understanding of the world's political diversity and constructions of power.
The main aim of this introductory course is to present and discuss key theoretical and thematic developments in the subfield of political anthropology. Many of these will be illustrated by looking at relevant case studies
From summer 2023 the course is also offered to students at the
- Bachelor and Master Programmes in Psychology
- Master Programme in Social Data Science
- Master Programme in Political Science
- Master Programme in Global Development
Enrolled students register the course through the Selfservice. Please contact the study administration at each programme for questions regarding registration.
The course is open to:
- Exchange and Guest students from abroad
- Credit students from Danish Universities
To demonstrate an understanding of classical contributions, key debates and standpoints in the field of political anthropology.
To reflect on how political anthropology is distinct from and how it relates to studies of politics and power in other academic fields.
To be able to apply anthropological concepts in the analysis of current political issues.
To be able to compare political systems, power relations and forms of political organization across time and space.
To be able to account for the different ways that power is distributed in society, from processual, action based forms of power, to hidden, structural forms.
To choose, apply and transfer relevant theoretical concepts and ideas from anthropology in the analysis of political issues, conflicts and phenomena in other contexts.
To be able to base normative claims on descriptive and analytical arguments drawn from anthropology, in order to nuance, qualify and enlighten political debate.
The course will be based on a combination of lectures and interactive seminars where students contribute actively through group work, discussions, readings and oral and written presentations.
BSc students and MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature.
The teacher will publish 200-300 pages of supplementary literature.
Course literature will be available through Absalon.
Feedback on portfolio assignments from student groups, as well as general feedback from the teacher
When registered you will be signed up for exam.
- Full-degree students – sign up at Selfservice on KUnet
- Exchange and guest students from abroad – sign up through Mobility Online and Selfservice
- Credit students from Danish universities - sign up through this website.
The dates for the exams are found here Exams – Faculty of Social Sciences - University of Copenhagen (ku.dk)
Please note that it is your own responsibility to check for overlapping exam dates.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Type of assessment details
- Length: Portfolio exam can be written individually or in groups
of max. 4 students. Portfolio exams consist of 2-7 submissions. For
MA students, there is a submission more than for BA students, i.e.
if the BA student has to submit five submissions, the MA students
must submit six submissions. The number of submissions is set by
the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must be
max. 30,000 keystrokes for one BA student and max. 37,500
keystrokes for one MA student. For groups of two students, max.
40,000 keystrokes BA students and max. 47,500 for MA students. For
groups of three students, max. 45,000 keystrokes for BA students
and max. 52,500 for MA students. For groups of four students, max.
50,000 keystrokes for BA students and 57,500 for MA students. In
the case of group assignments, the contribution of each individual
student must be clearly marked in the assignment. For groups with
both BA and MA students, the same number of submissions is required
as for MA students. The assignments are assessed jointly with a
For groups writing together it must be clearly indicated which parts of the assignment each of the students has written.
- All aids allowed
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
See learning outcome
- Exam Preparation
- Course number
- 7,5 ECTS
- Programme level
Bachelor choiceFull Degree MasterFull Degree Master choice
- Department of Anthropology, Study Council
- Department of Anthropology
- Department of Psychology
- Department of Political Science
- Social Data Science
- Faculty of Social Sciences
- Christina Jerne (4-6a6f716c4768757b6f797635727c356b72)
Are you BA- or KA-student?
Courseinformation of students