BASS Politics and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Cultural Diversity in Global Perspective

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN10312
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Anthropology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes



This course is about what globalisation is, when it emerged as a popular and academic concern, and how we understand the dynamics of globalisation as anthropologists (compared to other social science approaches). In turn, it is about how globalisation processes have challenged and transformed anthropology’s methods (fieldwork and ethnography); as well as the subjects that anthropologists choose to study in the first place.

Drawing on comparative examples from the UK, USA, Papua New Guinea, Indonesian Borneo, Brazil, Mongolia, Trinidad, Uganda, and South Africa (among others), the course will examine the complex processes through which global forces interact with local understandings, shaping social, cultural, and political lives. A central question of the course is: How can we best use anthropology to understand global capitalism as a world-system that connects people and places in unequal relationships? Topics include colonialism and neo-colonialism, mobility and migration, financialization and transnational elite cultures, digital technologies and connectivity, the consumption of commodities, and environmental transformations associated with climate change and the ways they shift our concern with the global towards an understanding of planetary life.


This course aims to provide an introduction to questions of the relationship between culture and economy, the global and the local from a social anthropological perspective.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand some key anthropological approaches to globalization
  • Present these anthropological approaches, concepts, and debates drawing on ethnographic examples
  • Extend these anthropological approaches to their own experiences to develop critical understandings of the global economy and local-global connections

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, Tutorials, Film, Writing Tasks

Assessment methods

100% - 1.5 hour examination - [or suitable online alternative]

Non-assessed tutorial tasks

Feedback methods


There are several routes towards feedback on your learning for this course unit.

The most important forum for feedback is provided in the tutorials - this is the place where you can try out ideas and get feedback on them; where you can clarify those aspects of the readings of lecture materials that are unclear; and where you can hone your skills of critical reading, note-taking and summarising arguments. The second mechanism for receiving detailed, individual feedback on your work is through short, structured formative writing exercise that ask you to summarise key texts, comment upon them and relate them to things happening in the world. The third feedback mechanism are drop-in office hours, where you can individually address any questions you have not been able to deal with in the tutorials.

Recommended reading


Hann, C and K Hart, 2011. Economic anthropology, Polity

Inda, Jonathan and Renato Rosaldo (eds) 2002 The Anthropology of Globalization, Oxford: Blackwell

Mintz, S 1985, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. London: Penguin Books

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 68.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Chloe Nahum-Claudel Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 12 weeks



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