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Cultural aspects in anthropology

Associate teachers


ECTS credits


Number of hours: Lectures + Seminars + Exercises

30 / 15 / 0

Course objectives

Through different approaches, the course will bring students closer to understanding two key and inseparable concepts in cultural anthropology - culture and identity.

The relationship between these two concepts is conveyed within the social and cultural frameworks in which identities are formed and expressed, and lectures will offer a better understanding of the scientific context from which they arise.

Lectures and seminars focus on the concept of culture and social practice, on the social construction of identity and on the stratification of identity in modern society.

As culture and cultural sharing have been in the focus of research attention in anthropology for some time, it is presumed that individuals share the same algorithm of meaning construction within the same culture, thus leading to the emergence of shared normative collective reality.

This way culture can be seen as a measurable variable which reflects the amount of sharing that exists among the individuals within a group due to their common culture.

Cognitive anthropologists today tend to take the stand that culture is an evolved constellation of loosely organized ideas and practices which are shared among a collection of interdependent individuals and transmitted across generations for the purpose of coordinating individual goal pursuits in collective living. Likewise, most agree that culture is not a genetically transmitted pool of knowledge which is distributed non-uniformly among individuals (Maltseva 2020).

The seminar is aimed at in-depth reading of texts and discussion of texts introduced through the lectures themselves. The course not only introduces students to those concepts as such, but presents them through a contextualized and comparative, interdisciplinary perspective.

In the second part of the semester lectures examine the dynamics of the process of cultural practice and identity formation through the processes of identification, differentiation and stereotyping, especially within national, ethnic or social frameworks.

Lectures and seminars aim to gain a deeper understanding of dynamics between culture and cognitive processes, discourses of multiculturalism, conflicts of culture and conflicts of cultural identities, as well as concepts based on fluidity and hybridity of identity constructions, and are closely related to experiences of migration, diaspora and transnationalism.

Enrolment requirements and/or entry competences required for the course


Learning outcomes at the level of the programme to which the course contributes

  • Apply specific knowledge and skills from selected disciplines constituting cognitive science
  • Explain major historical paradigms and recognize important new trends in cognitive science
  • Employ diverse disciplinary tools in exploring and describing the nature of cognitive processes
  • Design and conduct an interdisciplinary research project in cognitive science

Course content (syllabus)

  • Introduction
  • Introductory terms (culture, ethnos, ethnicity, identity, identity practices, processes and strategies of identification resources, globalization, locality, glocalization)
  • A brief history of anthropology
  • Culture as practice - classical anthropology
  • Concepts of development, globalization, culture and identity
  • Culture, agrarian societies, industrial societies
  • Culture as a line of conflict
  • Interpretations of culture
  • Identity / otherness - cultural stereotyping
  • Culture and ethnicity / ethnic identity
  • Migrant identities: multilayered identities - hybridity – integration - transnationalism
  • Anthropology and cognition
  • Role of culture in cognitive processes
  • Cultural practice and stigmatization
  • Local cultural practices and globalization

Student responsibilities

Class attendance, seminar presentation, written exam.

Required literature

  • Eriksen, Thomas Hylland (2001): "Small Places, Large Issues - An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology", Pluto Press, London
  • Hall, Stuart (1996): “Who needs identity?” In: Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds.): Questions of Cultural Identity, London: Sage Publications Ltd. (1-17)
  • Bender, A. S. Beller (2011): “The cultural constitution of cognition: taking the anthropological perspective”, Frontiers in psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00067
  • Ross, N. (2004): Culture & cognition: Implications for theory and method. Sage Publications

Optional literature

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