AANB11067U  Urban Anthropology

Volume 2016/2017

This course introduces students to the vitality of urban anthropology within socio-cultural anthropology, and explores the core themes and methods that led to the development of the field. The course content is designed to enable students to review and analyse urbanization processes as local and global phenomenon. We will look at various human vulnerabilities in the city, and explore the strategies used by urban populations to adapt, cope with and resist the multiple demands posed by urban social, political and fiscal economies. The primary focus of the course will be on the politics of inclusion and exclusion in the city, and we will uncover how the agency of people in slums, ghettoes and other formal and informal settlements impact and shape urban processes. The course material will investigate research themes on: the city as an ethnographic site; the complexities of studying post-colonial and industrial cities; issues of migration, ethnicity, environment, race and violence; questions of urban citizenship, and gender and sexuality in the city. The aim of this course is to look at the ways in which urban anthropology can uncover the interaction between significant structural forces, and culturally produced meaning and action on the ground, in a variety of cities across the globe.

Learning Outcome


The course will help students in

  • Understanding how the study of urbanisms, urban processes and population movement in the city is relevant in socio-cultural anthropology

  • Understanding how the field of urban anthropology helps address broader questions about structures of power, humanity, poverty and marginalization, particularly through cross-cultural perspectives of the city

  • Understanding how ethnographic material from different urban contexts helps develop key concepts and ideas in the field of urban anthropology.


The course will enable students

  • To communicate anthropological knowledge through critical reading, writing and oral presentations

  • To reflect on contemporary urban poverty, and examining their own understandings about community and everyday practices in the city

  • To foster societal responsibility by understanding sustainable forms of living, human diversity and dignity, and social, political and economic inequalities in the city


The course will facilitate students

  • To understand individuals, communities and urban life in various historical and socio-political contexts

  • To learn how to conduct ethnographic research in the city, through understanding research methods used by anthropologists in geographically different urban settings

  • To demonstrate their ability to identify and analyse formal and informal economies in the city, which will increase their future employability in a range of academic and non-academic institutions concerned with the future of cities


BSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature.

Course literature will be available in Absalon on the course website

The seminars will involve lectures, discussions groups, speed-reading and writing sessions, oral presentations, films and documentaries. The students will be divided in groups at the start of the semester and each group will be expected to do only ONE reading per week.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio exam:
Length: The portfolio exam can be taken individually or in groups of maximum four students. The portfolio exam consists of 3-7 submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must not exceed 30,000 keystrokes for a single student. For groups of two students the maximum is 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students the maximum is 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students the maximum is 50,000 keystrokes.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

1. re-exam:

An essay with a revised problem statement must be submitted at the announced date. The students must sign up for the 1. re-exam.

Please note that the re-exam is an essay even for courses, where the ordinary exam is a portfolio exam.

2. re-exam:

A new essay with a revised problem statement must be submitted at the announced date next semester. The students must sign up for the 2. re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See description of learning outcome. Formalities for Written Works must be fulfilled, read more: MSc Students/ BA students (in Danish)/ exchange and credit

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 4
  • Seminar
  • 12
  • Preparation
  • 116
  • Exam
  • 37
  • Exam Preparation
  • 25
  • Lectures
  • 4
  • Practical exercises
  • 8
  • Total
  • 206