Place Making: Critical Approaches to Anthropology

ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
SOCL 6050
Course Description: 

Globalisation’ is transforming how anthropologists look at the relationship between space, culture, society, economy and history. Globalisation is difficult to define, because any definition places emphasis and focus on one or another level of analysis. Globalisation may consist of the impact that ‘flows’ or ‘circulations’ of capital, ideas and people have on localities and how we consequently identify ourselves and others and enact political and moral bordering practices. How we define ‘globalisation’ and how we locate it ideologically and historically influences how we study it. This course will look critically at representations of globalization in anthropological literature.

Globalisation is usually taken by anthropologists as something experienced locally. The local experience of globalisation may mean the study of how moving capital, ideas and people, and their agents or vectors, interact with local structures of power, economies, moral economies and hierarchies.

The primary aim of the course is to help students frame their theses in relation to 1) globalization, 2) space, 3) time and 4) other similar cases. Put differently, the course will help students 1) theorise ‘external’ forces – money, ideologies, people – and the ways in which they impact in local spaces, 2) think about spatial practices and the power structures that are part of them that give meaning and order to space and how these relate with ‘external’ forces, 3) locate their research historically and understand the privilege accorded to linear and territorial notions of time which has tended to normalize specific, often ‘European’, ways of doing social research, and 4) to think about the possibilities and limitations of comparative work and to consider how we may generalize from anthropological fieldwork.

Learning Outcomes: 

At the end of the semester students taking this course should 1) be at a more advanced and theoretically nuanced stage of preliminary explorations towards their dissertation topics; 2) have a clearer idea of inventories of place-making that may be at play within their research topic; 3) be able to considerably refine their initial hypotheses or research questions; and 4) have the kernel of an annotated literature review that is informed by current work on place making.


The course comes in three main parts. In the first 6 weeks students will become acquainted with the main body of literature on globalization place-making. This will be done through lectures, presentation in class by students of literature items, exercises and discussions. Weeks 7-8 will be devoted to a collective appraisal of a recent ethnography pertinent to this debate. Weeks 9-12 will be dedicated to the preparation by each student of a review article of ca. 3,000 words of minimally two agenda-setting monographs pertinent to their respective fields of research. The review should demonstrate the student’s understanding of how authors deal with power, outward linkages and sequences in time, and should explain

how these elements contribute to authors’ attempts to frame and to explain their cases. This part of the course will consist of library research, preparation, circulation and presentations of individual review-articles and discussion of these reviews in class. A rewritten version of the review, incorporating input and feedback from the class discussion will be due at the end of term.

Grading: Class Participation 20%, oral presentations 30%, review article 50%.