Anthropology

Cities and Urban Lives

Module code: L6076
Level 5
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar, Film
Assessment modes: Essay

In this module, you are introduced to literature and debates in the fields of urban anthropology and anthropology of the city.

You explore historical processes of urbanization, focusing on the spatial, cultural, political and social characteristics of the modern cities, as well
as looking at the experiences of everyday urban life in cities across the world.

You undertake a comparative analysis of the diversity of urban forms and experiences based on specific case studies, to engage with theories ascribing universal characteristics to modern urban society and culture.

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Urban Anthropology and Anthropology of the City: methodological and epistemological challenges
  • From Nomadism to Modern City: the long march of urbanization
  • Pre-modern cities: spiritual economies and cosmopolitan spaces
  • The Colonial and the Colonised City: the spatialization of hierarchies
  • Capitalism, (de)industrialization and the modern city: urban economies
  • Modern Urban Cultures: from street corner society to urban gangs
  • Modern Urban Politics: revolutions, revolts and protests
  • Globalisation, neo-liberalism and the city: the (re)making of class privilege and exclusion
  • Post-modern cityscapes: skyscrapers, shopping malls and slums
  • Materialities of urban life-worlds: crowds, traffic, leisure, etc.

Module learning outcomes

  • To demonstrate knowledge/understanding of anthropological approaches to understanding cities and urban lives.
  • To analyse/evaluate/assess main theoretical debates in the fields of urban anthropology and anthropology of the city, and have an awareness of the history of these debates and how specific theoretical trends have developed over time.
  • To relate theory to specific ethnographic contexts in the analysis of the spatial, cultural, political and social characteristics of the modern cities.
  • To evaluate/compare strengths and weaknesses of anthropological theories developed and deployed to understand urban spaces and urban lives.