Universität Wien FIND
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240519 SE The Anthropology of Elites and Power (P4) (2019S)

Continuous assessment of course work

Participation at first session is obligatory!


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Tuesday 02.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 09.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 30.04. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 07.05. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 14.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 21.05. 15:00 - 18:15 Hörsaal C, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 28.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal C, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 04.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 18.06. 15:00 - 18:15 Hörsaal C, NIG 4. Stock
Tuesday 25.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

In virtually every society, historical and contemporary, power is a decisive factor. Surprisingly, however, the ones with most power, such as elites, receive relatively little attention in anthropology, with many anthropologists studying more marginalised groups instead. Yet to understand the organisation of societies around the word, as well as the position of marginalised groups within these societies, it is of relevance to also include the study of elites and other powerful groups.

Course aims:
1. To gain an understanding of the (theoretical) themes and debates in the study of elites.
2. To be able to apply the theory.
3. To better understand the particular qualities an anthropological perspective has to offer.
4. To be able to reflect upon methodological and ethical concerns and challenges in the (anthropological) study of powerful actors.

After discussing definitions of elites and power, we will focus on a variety of topics, such as conspicuous consumption, the elite family, philanthropy, and elite geographies (in Vienna). We will discuss the themes with the help of several case studies of elites, both in locations where anthropology has traditionally been associated with, such as African societies, and (contemporary) settings elsewhere, for example in Europe and the US. This will allow us to explore similarities and/or differences between elites and power around the world.

Reading literature, group work, discussions, and individual papers.

Assessment and permitted materials

1. Each student will participate in one group assignment (3 to 5 students) and prepare a session (presentation of the session’s theme, organising group discussion or other activity, etc.). The assignment will count towards 40 points of the final mark.
2. Individually, each student will submit a 15-page paper at the end of the course. This will count towards 60 points of the final mark.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

1. Presence and active participation in the seminar.
2. With prior notification, two absences of 90 minutes maximum will be allowed (see for the exception, also the next point).
3. Active and fair contribution to the group assignment (all students involved in a particular group have to be present during their presentation/assignment; hence, they cannot request absence apart from for very important reasons).
4. Both the group assignment and the paper have to be completed successfully, i.e. with a 4 mark minimum.

Examination topics

Reading list

Various articles and chapters.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Tu 27.08.2019 10:08