Economic Anthropology
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Course title in English
Economic Anthropology
ECTS credits
Assessment form
lecturer of 2023/2024 Spring semester
Not opened for teaching. Click the study programme link below to see the nominal division schedule.
lecturer of 2024/2025 Autumn semester
Not opened for teaching. Click the study programme link below to see the nominal division schedule.
Course aims
The course objective is to analyse the economy and capitalism from an anthropological and political economy perspective through the analysis of ethnographic texts, films; and discussions, exercises and group work.
Brief description of the course
This course examines the ways in which economics, politics, and cultural practices intertwine. This course sees ‘the economy’ not as something distant and abstract, but rather as a set of relations that are deeply enmeshed with our everyday social lives. We will look at ethnographic studies that approach ‘economics’ as culturally conditioned, something structured through relations of ethnicity, class, citizenship, gender and age. Through this anthropological lens, money is not just a store of wealth - rather, money can carry emotional and ethical connotations. ‘Affluence’ is relative to our needs, ‘paid employment’ is not the only form of work, and debt is a complex web of obligations rather than a hole in our bank account. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which global migration and ‘bordering’ practices interact with neoliberal capitalism.
The goal of this course is not to offer definitive answers or propose a ‘right’ form of economic practice, but rather to compel students to think critically about the worlds we inhabit. The format of the sessions will be akin to a Seminar or Reading Group. A student, or group of students, will commit themselves to doing an oral presentation on the assigned reading for the session. This presentation will be followed by a group discussion of the themes brought up during the oral report.
Learning outcomes in the course
Upon completing the course the student:
- is familiar with the conceptual tools for the critical analysis of economic relations from an anthropological and political economy perspective;
- is able to discuss, compare and contrast ethnographic work orally and in written form;
- based on ethnographic texts and discussions with peers, is be able to compare and contrast economic issues and practices and intersectional inequalities in different cultural contexts.
Timothy Raymond Anderson
Additional information
Independent work:
Students need to read and be ready to discuss two articles for each academic class, prepare one individual class presentation and write a 2000 word essay as part of the assessment. To make up for missed classes, students will have to write analytical summaries of the articles.
The grade is based on active participation in seminars and Moodle discussions, presentation in class and final essay.
Carrier, James G., ed. 2012. A handbook of economic anthropology. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Hann, Chris, and Keith Hart. Market and society: The great transformation today. Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Kasmir, Sharryn, and August Carbonella, eds. Blood and fire: Toward a global anthropology of labor. Vol. 13. Berghahn Books, 2014.
Marx, Karl. Capital: volume one. Courier Dover Publications, 2019.
Polanyi, K. 1957. The great transformation, Boston, Beacon Press.
Mauss, M. 2002. The gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies, London, Routledge.