Political Anthropology, introductory course

Course content

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 2024 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

- Master Programme in Social Science


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
Learning outcome


  • 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

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.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Feedback on portfolio assignments from student groups, as well as general feedback from the teacher

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio, -
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 single grade.
For groups writing together it must be clearly indicated which parts of the assignment each of the students has written.
All aids allowed

Policy on the Use of Generative AI Software and Large Language Models in Exams

The Department of Anthropology allows the use of generative AI software and large language models (AI/LLMs), such as ChatGPT, in written exams, provided that the use of AI/LLMs is disclosed and specified (i.e., how it was used and for what purpose) in an appendix that does not count towards the page limit of the exam.


If AI/LLMs are used as source, the same requirements apply for using quotation marks and source referencing as with all other sources. Otherwise, it will be a case of plagiarism.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

1st re-exam: An essay must be submitted. The new assignment must be submitted by the deadline for the re-exam.

2nd re-exam: A new essay must be submitted. The new assignment must be submitted by the deadline for the re-exam.

One BA student: 21.600-26.400 keystrokes. For group responses, Min. 6,750 and Max. 8,250 extra keystrokes per extra group member.

One MA student: 27,000-33,000 keystrokes. For group responses, Min. 8,450 and Max. 10,300 extra keystrokes per extra group member.

For groups with both BA and MA students:
A MA and a BA student: 31,900-38,975 (BA: 14.175-17.325 KA: 17.725-21.650)
A MA and two BA students: 38,050 – 46,475 (BA: 11,700-14.300 KA: 14.650-17.875)
A MA and three BA students: 44,525-54,375 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)
Two MA and one BA student: 41,000-50,050 (BA: 11,700-14.300 KA: 14.650-17.875)
Two MA and two BA students: 47,150-57,550 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)
Three MA and one BA student: 49,775-60,725 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)

For groups writing together it must be clearly indicated which parts of the assignment each of the students has written.

Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Exam Preparation
  • 64
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Bachelor choice
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

See timetable.
Department of Anthropology, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Department of Psychology
  • Department of Political Science
  • Social Data Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Helene Risør   (13-706d746d766d367a717b776d7a4869767c707a7736737d366c73)

Helene Risør

Saved on the 15-05-2024

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