Current Themes in the Anthropology of Latin America (L6096)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

On this module, you develop a framework for understanding current social, cultural and political issues in Latin American. Throughout the module, you engage with anthropological understandings of a number of key ideas including:

  • indigeneity
  • race
  • gender
  • colonialism
  • nation states
  • the environment.

Each week is centred on ethnographic pieces that offer interesting reflections on contemporary issues as well as anthropological theory.

You begin with a basic history of the continent that sets up some of the key issues that underpin the current cultural and social diversity of the region. This includes both the dichotomy between the European 'conquerors' and indigenous groups, as well as the introduction of African slaves and notable distinctions based around urban and rural living, and nation states and their peripheries. In doing this, the emphasis is on including both European-based understandings of events and ideas - but also local, alternative understandings of the world, particularly in the form of Amazonian cosmology and ideas of perspectivism.

This cultural and historical knowledge then gives you the foundations from which to look at key contemporary issues including:

  • race and identity
  • rural to urban migration
  • cities, slums and current attempts to 'pacify' and control them
  • music and festivals
  • the Latin American diaspora and the creation of transnational cultures and communities.

Throughout the module, the heterogeneity of Latin America is emphasised, while you explore some basic ideas and theoretical approaches to the continent and its people. This allows you to find a topic or idea that interests you and that can form the core of your own essay.


100%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 30 hours of contact time and about 270 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: