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ANTH312 Cultural Politics

Explores how an anthropological analysis of the ‘everyday’ can elucidate the cultural underpinnings that inform, enable and hinder the exercise of power across the globe.

This paper addresses contemporary issues in culture and politics from an anthropological perspective and in doing so makes a contribution to the development of a public anthropology by fostering the critical skills required to undertake citizen-led anthropological research.

We explore how political and legal structures are influenced by the cultural environments through which they operate and the manner in which cultural groups and identities are also shaped by the political and legal power to which they are subject. Thus we interrogate concepts such as 'power', 'culture', 'politics' and 'anthropology', and students will pursue a research essay that investigates some of the local meanings attached to these terms in contemporary Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Asia or the wider Pacific with specific case studies of several such intersections of 'culture' and 'power'. Together we explore the richness of anthropological explanations of these issues in order to better appreciate the points of slippage and friction between 'everyday'; taken for granted practices and the exercise of power across the globe.

Paper title Cultural Politics
Paper code ANTH312
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level ANTH points or 108 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
May not be credited together with ANTH326 passed in 2008.
This paper is suitable for students both with and without strong backgrounds in anthropology.

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator: Dr Greg Rawlings

Contributing Lecturer: Dr Susan Wardell

Paper Structure
100% internally assessed
Teaching Arrangements

One 2-hour lecture per week.
One 1-hour tutorial per week.


Required reading is from journal articles and book chapters available electronically through the library using eReserve.

Course outline

Will be available on Blackboard at the beginning of the course.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Extend their capacity for critical thinking through an exploration of the implications (both opportunities and pitfalls) of the culturalisation of ‘power’ and ‘politics’ and the politicisation of ‘cultures’
  • Develop advanced anthropological research skills as they undertake their individual study of a chosen political and cultural dilemma
  • Gain higher level skills in written and verbal communication

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 09:00-10:50 9-14, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 10-13, 17-21
T2 Wednesday 14:00-14:50 10-13, 17-21