Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas

Themes of Anthropological Thought - 2nd semester



Academic unit

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas





Teacher in charge

João de Freitas Leal

Weekly hours


Teaching language



The main goal of this curricular unit is to confront the students with major guidelines of anthropology´s contemporary debates, in particular its
emphasis in power issues and its new links to history. The nowadays phenomena of globalization, nationalism and ethnicity are read through the
lenses of their historical antecedents, namely late imperialism. Having in mind the changes suffered by anthropology in the post-colonial context
and the political critic of modern anthropology, students are invited to reevaluate the classical approaches of change in colonial contexts. The
dialectic between the notions of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial is explored in the way of developing in the students a critical sense
towards the articulations between the anthropology of contemporary sets and the discipline´s archive, including some case studies from the
Portuguese-speaking world.



Subject matter

I- Anthropology and colonialism: critiques and rereadings
Decolonization and the judging of the classics; Malinowski´s applied anthropology and British indirect rule; Georges Balandier, the Kimbanguist church and the colonial situation; Max Gluckman and the situational analysis of South African colonialism.
II - What is globalization? An anthropological perspective
Arjun Appadurai´s theory of radical transformation; ethnographies of globalization; historical antecedents of de/territorialization of culture.
III - The frontiers´ maze: nationalism and ethnicity
The pionnier perspective of Fredrik Barth; relations between ethnicity and culture.
IV- Historical anthropology and the colonial archive
Case studies: Southern Sudan; East Timor; Lunda (Angola)


ASAD, Talal (ed.)
[1973] Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter, New York, Humanity Books, s.d.
INDA, Jonathan; ROSALDO, Renato (eds.)
2002 The Anthropology of Globalization. A Reader, Malden MA-Oxford, Blackwell
1993, Ethnicity and Nationalism. Anthropological Perspectives. London, Boulder CO, Pluto Press

Teaching method

Courses follow a theoretical-practical methodology. In each course, there is a first moment of presentation of the key ideas by the teacher, with the help of a powerpoint show with selected quotations and images, in an open interaction with the students through questions, comments and free interventions. In a second moment, which may cross the first presentation, students are invited to analyse in more detail, through a collective discussion, certain passages or other contents which permit to deepen the subjects previously exposed in a synthetic way; and also also make brief group exercises of analysis and interpretation. In some courses, a third moment is dedicated to debating.

Evaluation method

Evaluation is based on two written tests e and on brief exercises made in class, although students may choose as an alternative a single global written test.