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ANTH431 People, Culture and Development

Critically explores the cultural and social dynamics of development and international aid. Focusing on power and difference, the paper investigates issues of gender, empowerment, community-driven approaches, policy and indigenous worldviews.

Globally, billions of dollars in international development aid are spent every month, targeted at managed change, often in cross-cultural contexts. The Anthropology of Development – a major subfield of anthropology – investigates development concepts and aspirations, power relations and the costs and benefits of interventions. This paper provides an overview of the subdiscipline.

Topics include:

  • The origins and evolution of the concept of "development"
  • Indigenous and local notions of "development", and how transversal meta-narratives of development shape local aspirations
  • The relationship between development policy, implementation and outcomes, with attention to unintended consequences
  • Philosophies and techniques of community-based development, and the institutional and community micro-politics that can complicate it in practice
  • Common roles that applied anthropologists undertake in the development industry, and the practical and ethical dilemmas these can raise

Paper title People, Culture and Development
Paper code ANTH431
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,206.91
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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72 300-level points
May not be credited with ANTH411 completed in 2021

Students would benefit from a background in the Social Sciences.
This paper may be taken as an elective for the Master of International Development and Planning (


Teaching staff

Dr Hannah Bulloch

Teaching Arrangements

This paper is taught in weekly 2-3 hour seminars.
It is 100% internally assessed.


Crewe, Emma, and Richard Axelby. 2013. Anthropology and Development: Culture, Morality and Politics in a Globalised World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The textbook and other course readings are available through eReserve on Blackboard

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Cultural understanding, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Self-motivation, Research, Ethics
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will:

  • Identify and critique the cultural assumptions underlying a range a key development theories, concepts and approaches
  • Compare how notions of "development", and cognate concepts, vary across cultures and groups
  • Critically engage with key anthropological and sociological debates on aid effectiveness
  • Understand a range of practical ways that anthropologists apply their skills in the development sector and assess some key ethical issues with which applied anthropologists grapple

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-40