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Cultural and Social Anthropology (B.A.)

(1) The objective of the Bachelor’s degree programme in Cultural and Social Anthropology is to convey the in-depth expert knowledge which is necessary for professional practice and to impart an understanding of the substance of the subject, as well as the ability to apply fundamental scientific methods and knowledge.

(2) The study programme conveys professional competencies in the application of a holistic approach to current, socially relevant problems, especially in the core regions of the Indo-Pacific and Africa, in questions of cultural diversity, differences and identity, and in the application of the most important ethnological methods. These competencies provide the basis for research-oriented further qualification in Master’s and doctoral degree programmes or for entry into various occupational fields (employment in international organisations, international economic cooperation, cultural administration, cultural mediation, museums and the media).

(3) In addition to subject-related knowledge, the Bachelor’s degree programme also conveys key competencies for successful entry into professional life (application-oriented profile) or for taking up a Master’s degree programme (science-oriented profile).

Why studie Cultural and Social Anthropology in Göttingen
The Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology in Göttingen pursues problem-oriented and comparative research relevant to present times concerning questions of culturally influenced communal life under the conditions and effects of globalisation in its core regions of the Indo-Pacific and Africa. A special emphasis lies on specific regional research projects oriented towards this overall theme in the areas of cultural ecology, gender, ethnicity/migration, cultural policies and the connection between habitat and culture. The Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology in Göttingen has evolved from research in connection with 18th century voyages of discovery. The acquisition of the Cook/Forster collection by the “Academic Museum” led to the choice of the Indo-Pacific as a core region. Today, Göttingen University is one of only two institutions in the entire German-speaking community where teaching and research on the ethnology of Oceania are practised. From the beginning of the 20th century, Africa has been developed systematically as a second regional focus. In the instruction of students, a range of systematic regional courses centred around the Indo-Pacific and Africa offers a comparative perspective on cultural similarities and differences and the cultural approach to ecological, social, economic, political and religious problems. Modern research also deals with the special ecological conditions, history (including colonial history) and cultural peculiarities of these two regions.

The strength of cultural and social anthropology as a discipline with a holistic approach lies in its ability to integrate various individual perspectives requiring proven competence into general views. These individual perspectives are embedded in internationally relevant research questions; at the same time, they are interwoven with the constantly changing socio-political conditions primarily in the core regions, and therefore subject to continuous reviewing. The complex overall context of culturally influenced communal life under the conditions and effects of globalisation is examined by way of ethnographic description and cultural comparison from individual perspectives, including the following aspects: global migration and related questions concerning the relationship between culture, society, habitat and environment, individual and collective forms of cultural self-assertion and differentiation (gender-related and ethnic identities); questions of integration in national entities and other (including international) networks or associations; convergence/overlapping of different sets of values or systems of orientation and knowledge on the level of individual and collective actors, and the resulting conflicts or negotiation of different modi vivendi, or the development of new, common forms of socio-cultural interaction. All of these aspects are very closely correlated and provide the basis for a holistic approach.

As is shown by the research programme, the research interests of the Göttingen Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology harmonise with the research focus of the Faculty of Social Sciences on “Institutional Change from a Comparative Perspective”. Basic methodological issues in ethnology are closely related to the research perspectives outlined above. A fundamental debate has been under way within this discipline for several decades about the significance of comparative methods. Since especially in the context of cultural transfer and globalisation the existence of independent investigation teams can hardly be assumed any longer, a certain amount of scepticism against comparative methods has emerged within ethnology especially in modern areas (such as post-modernism or post-colonialism). Hence there is a demand for developing alternative approaches to basic methodology. Especially the dialogue with social and political sciences concerning their research focus on institutions theory is a promising aspect in this debate.

The four Chairs of Cultural and Social Anthropology with their regional foci on South-East Asia/Oceania and East and West Africa offer excellent opportunities for research focusing on comparative aspects, due to the variety of cultural conditions and histories of colonisation and decolonisation processes in these regions. These opportunities make it possible to investigate the interaction and coordination of institutions in various social and cultural settings, also their inconsistencies or even their isolation in some cases. Nations and national states are socio-political forms of organisation exported from Europe to the whole world. Everywhere, they have interacted with already existing, structurally equivalent indigenous organisational principles. As has only most recently become clear, this has not by any means led to a homogenised, coordinated institutional structure with uncontested legitimacy, even though this trend has been reinforced by various forms of national and transnational migration as well as an increasing amount of ethnic conflict. This means that this trend towards the foundation of national states and their institutions has brought about social change which has also manifested itself on the sub-national level by the emergence of new and the revival of existing institutions, such as (neo-)feudal systems, charismatic or theocratic regimes, clan structures and clientelistic networks.

Language requirements to be fulfilled in the course of the degree programme: mandatory optional course in a non-European language

Structure of the degree programme
(1) The degree programme consists of study courses earning a total of 180 credits (according to the regulations of the European Credit Transfer System, ECTS-Credits; abbr.: C). At least 90 C must be completed in Cultural and Social Anthropology. The Cultural and Social Anthropology degree programme is completed with a Bachelor’s thesis (12 C), normally in the sixth semester.

(2) In addition to subject-related qualifications in Cultural and Social Anthropology modules and methodology training modules, several modules from another subject or a combination of Law and Economics must be studied to the extent of at least 42 C.

(3) The key qualification modules must also be studied to the extent of 36 C.

During the first semesters, basic knowledge of content and methodology in Cultural and Social Anthropology is taught, subsequently more specialised knowledge in ethnological sub-areas will be conveyed, and the Institute’s major fields of study will be introduced systematically. For students of the Bachelor’s degree programme, the extensive freedom of choice existing in ongoing degree programmes has been restricted in favour of a more targeted approach to the general questions of ethnology and the major fields of research of the Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology.

The degree programme is modular and subdivided into orientation, mandatory, mandatory optional and optional modules. Orientation modules are specially designated mandatory modules which are particularly clear indicators of the students’ aptitude and motivation for study. They are offered during the first year of studies, generally in the first semester. In Cultural and Social Anthropology, this is the module “Basic Terminology and Research Questions”. Other mandatory modules of the Cultural and Social Anthropology degree programme are “Selected Subject Areas”, “Ethnological Methods”, “Regional Cultural and Social Anthropology I+II”, “Methodology I+II+III”, “Thematic Concentration I+II” and the “Colloquium” which prepares for the Bachelor’s thesis.

However, the module “Methodology II” already offers several options, since here, students can choose between “Field Research”, “Applied Cultural and Social Anthropology” and “Object – Culture – Identity”, which are further pursued in the mandatory optional module “Methodology III”. One learning target of this module is the acquisition of a non-European language, another integral part is an internship about which a report must be written. The mandatory and mandatory optional modules mentioned above are supplemented by the optional modules “Selected Subject Areas I+II” and elective modules from the optional fields of key competencies, as well as modules from other subjects.

Combining Cultural and Social Anthropology with a package of several modules from Social Sciences is recommended, since one main emphasis in the Department of Cultural Sociology lies on questions of immigration and dealing with the concept of what is “alien / different”. The fact that the methodology part of Social Sciences is already covered by the corresponding modules in Cultural and Social Anthropology leaves room for studying additional modules in Social Sciences.

An English language course is recommended as an optional module for this combination of subjects, since most of the ethnological literature is in English. In this concept, the foundation for a science-oriented profile is already laid by the corresponding mandatory optional modules in the core subject (module 11 “Field Research” or module 13 “Object – Culture – Identity”). In the optional areas, this profile is developed by the acquisition of additional competence in methodology, language and communication. Moreover, the subject-related competence can be increased by taking part in additional seminars. One example is participation in the additional module “Selected Subject Areas”, but it will present no problem if students increase their specific regional competence by taking up an additional regional seminar instead.