MA Peace and Conflict Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Anthropology of Violence and Reconstruction

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI60131
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will explore the link between violent conflicts and everyday life. The focus will be on survival and reconstitution of life through encounters with both state and non-state actors, but also moral means of coping and sense making of traumatic experiences of pain and suffering. The course readings will, in Nancy Scheper-Hughes' words, 'continually juxtapose the routine, the ordinary - the symbolic and normative violence of everyday life ('terror as usual') - against sudden eruptions of unexpected, extraordinary or 'gratuitous' violence (as in genocide, state terror, dirty wars and civil wars).' The course will draw on ethnographies and other anthropological work to get an understanding of interests, issues, and challenges faced by individuals who decide to be scribes to human suffering. Finally, the course will show the ways in which violence shapes the everyday reality of survivors, perpetrators and witnesses and affect their capacity to engage in everyday life.


Introduce students to key issues in the Anthropology of Violence and Conflict.

- Provide a cross-cultural reading of ethnographic material on historical and contemporary conflicts from different regions of the world to draw out key issues that get operationalised after conflicts.

- Provide an understanding of the psychological and material coping after conflict.

- Enable students to acquire an understanding about what political, economic and institutional factors shape conflict response and how each of these are lived?

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the social, spatial, economic and political disruptions in everyday life after conflict.
  • Understand the lived meaning of conflict.
  • Identify the key state and non-state actors that play a role in 'post- conflict' lives. .

Intellectual skills

  • Engage with the ethical and moral dilemmas that anthropologists face while working in conflict situations.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Critically engage with terms like 'post-conflict', 'reconstruction', 'reconstitution' and 'reconciliation'.

- Understand how anthropological knowledge can be used to develop policy interventions

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative







Recommended reading

Scheper Hughes, N & Bourgois, P (eds) Violence in War and Peace : An Anthology (Oxford, Blackwell, 2004)

Das, V, Kleinmann, A, Lock, M, Ramphela. M and Reynolds. P, (eds) Remaking a World. Violence, Social Suffering and Recovery. (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rubina Jasani Unit coordinator

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