85493 - Social Anthropology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Gender equality Reduced inequalities Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing students abilities in cultural analysis with special reference to the making and representation of cultural diversity. The course aims at improving students participation, providing the gain of a specialistic terminology and of a critical attitude toward social and cultural facts.

Course contents

The course introduces students to basic theories and research methods in Social Anthropology, including ethnographic fieldwork and the analysis of cultural dimension. In its focus on the details of everyday activities across a number of communities, it is meant to provide a bridge between social anthropology and ethnography through the introduction of concepts and analytical techniques that privilege observation, participation, recording and transcription of spontaneous interaction. Topics include theory, practices of ethnography, memory, time, travel and mobility, imagination, the power of communication, agency and aspiration with a special focus on the impacts of social media diffusion in contemporary societies.

Students are expected to arrive on time, attend all lectures, and complete all reading as scheduled on the syllabus, i.e., prior to the class meeting. The class participation grade is based on participation in discussions as well as on attendance in both lectures and study questions.



1. Malinowski B., 1922, Argonauts of the Western Pacific, Introduction.

2. Radcliffe Brown A. R., 1940, On Joking Relationships, Africa: Journal of The International African Institute, vol. 13, 3: 195-210.

3. Evans-Pritchard E. E., 1950, Anthropology: Past and Present, The Marret Lecture, in Man, 50: 118-125.

4 Matera V., We are all contemporaries. Time and Cultural Anthropology, in Gonzales Falcon I. (ed.), Understanding Cultural Diversity: Perceptions, Opportunities and Challenges, Nova Publisher, New York, 2018: 1-22.

5. Gluckman M., 1940, Analysis of a Social Situation in Modern Zululand, in Bantu Studies, 14: 1-30.

6. Fillitz T., 2013, Spatialising the Field. Conceptualising fields and interconnections in the context of contemporary art in Africa, in Matera V. (ed.), De-constructing the field, AAM, 13: 103-112.

7. Matera V., 2013, Ethnography: experiences, representations, practices for studying cultural diversity, in AAM, 15: 9-19.

8. Miller D., 2016, How the World Changes Social Media, UCL Press, London.

Teaching methods

Lectures, discussions, weekly tests based on study questions.

Assessment methods

    • Attending students:
    • Weekly in-class short tests; Final Test (last week of classes); Final short essay and oral presentation.
    • Modalities concerning the final short essay will be discussed in class.
    • Non attending students have to prepare an oral exam studying the papers listed on the syllabus.

Office hours

See the website of Vincenzo Matera