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Unit information: The Anthropology of Gender and Childhood in 2020/21

Unit name The Anthropology of Gender and Childhood
Unit code ARCH20070
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Morelli
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces anthropological research on gender and childhood, focusing on the radically diverse ways they are understood and experienced in different social and economic settings. We will examine a range of seminal theories and anthropological debates on feminism, masculinity, childhood & youth, learning, personhood and becoming, and through the analysis of ethnographic case-studies from various parts of the world, we will consider how these crucial aspects of human life vary widely cross-culturally. Drawing on a variety of ethnographic case studies form across the world, students will consider the following questions, amongst others: is there anything natural about sex and gender? Are women the second sex? Is childhood a natural phase of existence or a social phenomenon? Does school promote equality or perpetuate class difference?

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1) Explain and critically address key anthropological theories on sex, gender, childhood & youth, learning and education;

2) Contextualise the experiences and understandings of sex, gender and childhood & youth in specific ethnographic settings;

3) Apply anthropological understandings to aspects that concern their own lives and society;

4) Evaluate specific methods and practice-based techniques through which anthropologists conduct gender-based and child-focussed research.

Teaching details

Weekly lectures, seminars and student presentation sessions, guided by self-directed activities

Assessment Details

1) One 2000-word essay (50% - ILOs 1, 2).

2) One 2000-word portfolio of three working papers (50% - ILOs 1-4).

Reading and References

Moore, H. L. (1994). A Passion for Difference: Essays in Anthropology and Gender. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Lewin, E. (Ed.). (2009). Feminist anthropology: a reader. John Wiley & Sons.

Cornwall, A and Lindisfarne, N. (1994). Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies.

Lancy, D. F. (2008). The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Montgomery, H. 2009. An Introduction to Childhood: Anthropological Perspectives on Children's Lives. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

Zelizer, V. 1981. Pricing the Priceless Child. New York: Basic Books.