AANB11065U  Gender Matters

Volume 2017/2018

Gender is central to understanding peoples lived experiences and life opportunities. As a key category of analysis in anthropology, gender informs as well as problematizes important bodies of knowledge within the discipline.

This course introduces students to the anthropological study of gender by drawing on ethnographic reflections from various regions as well as on key texts from within feminist anthropology, gender studies, queer theory and trans studies.

During the course, we will consider how anthropologists study the complex relationships between culture specific gender norms, colonialism, neoliberalism, war, racism, health care and kinship systems. We will explore how subjects in multiple cultural settings negotiate gendered positions while critically examining how power structures based on e.g. race, class, sexual orientation, ability, religion and nationality inform and reconfigure gendered subjectivities and experiences.

Through studying a varied range of topics such as drag and ballroom culture, masculinities, migration, genders beyond the binary, trans people’s access to health care, refugee camps, #BlackLivesMatter, decolonialism, feminist methodologies, intimate labor, war on terror, reproduction and kinship relations we will examine and challenge (also our own) normative and stereotypical understandings of gender.

This course will eventually enable students to develop critical anthropological insights into the ways in which norms and positions connected to gender and sexuality are reproduced, negotiated and challenged in different social and spatial contexts, and students will be able to gender anthropological analysis as well as raise critical questions about how we as anthropologists explore and are engaged in the life-worlds and people we work with.

Learning Outcome

During the course, we will focus on learning all the following, hereby enabling that the students by the end of the course will be expected:


  • To be able to identify, define and discuss key theories and concepts in the study of gender and sexuality.

  • To be able to give an account of and take a critical stance towards different approaches to conceptualizing gender.


  • To be able to evaluate and select among different scientific theories, methodologies and tools within the study of gender, and create their own analysis and solution models based on topics discussed in class.

  • To be able to evaluate and discuss how anthropological knowledge about gender adds insight into ethnographic case studies.

  • To be able to generate, structure and analyze their own data by conducting a small scale ethnographic project related to topics and theories in the course plan.

  • To be able to put theories and case studies discussed in class in to perspective and critically assess the relationship between gender and contemporary social and political problems.

  • To be able to discuss how gender intersects with e.g. race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, ability, nationality, religion, age, and/or other power structures.

  • To be able to critically discuss ethical dilemmas faced by anthropologists conducting fieldwork on gender as well as reflecting on their own position(s) in their studies/research projects.

  • To be able to communicate research-based knowledge and debate gender specific theoretical issues with both peers and non-specialists in e.g. oral presentations, articles and/or by offering peer feedback on other students’ portfolio assignments, chosen methodologies, interview techniques, structuring of data and/or analyses.


  • To be able to plan, carry out and present findings from a small scale ethnographic project related to topics discussed in class.

  • To be able to remain analytically self-corrective in relation to the methodologies applied in their own empirical work.

  • To be able to independently formulate an analytical solution to a (gender specific) problem by combining anthropological/​queer/​trans/​gender theory, data and methodology.

  • To be able to critically introduce a gender perspective in anthropological analyses.

  • To be able to use anthropological analyses to contest normative understandings of gender and sexuality.

  • To be able to independently take responsibility for their continued professional development, specialization and/or learning within an anthropology of gender, gender studies, queer theory, queer anthropology and/or trans studies.

MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature + 200 pages of literature chosen by students

Literature chosen by students must be relevant to the course’s subject matter.

Course literature will be available in Absalon on the course website

Class lectures.

Students will be expected to actively contribute to the common learning process facilitated during the course by:
• Thoroughly reading at least any one of the required readings per week and loosely reading the rest of the texts.
• Actively participate in class discussions and group work while checking your privileges and giving space to fellow students.
• Handing in all the portfolio assignments on time and present and discuss them in class.
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Students will give feedback on each other’s portfolio assignments in class. It will be possible to get oral feedback from the lecturer on the ethnographic project. Students will present their ethnographic project in a mini conference in class and engage in discussion on it with their fellow students. It will be possible to rewrite the portfolios based on peer feedback, lectures and class discussions before handing in the final portfolio collection by the end of the semester.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
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.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam Preparation
  • 44
  • Seminar
  • 42
  • Course Preparation
  • 120
  • Total
  • 206