Home » Faculties of Humanities » Departments » Anthropology and Development Studies » Anthropology

UJ Anthropology

At UJ anthropology we are interested in contemporary lives, and the pasts and futures that give them traction and meaning. Our ethos is based on the acknowledgement of multiple ways of knowing, and a commitment towards understanding the precarities and uncertainties of everyday lives and experiences. This informs our approach to teaching, supervision and research, which we understand as mutually beneficial and integrated. Our concern is developing student-centred, innovative, and creative methodologies and practices that challenge established hierarchies, are conceptually grounded, and offer new opportunities for inclusive learning.

We publish regularly in leading international and regional journals, and talk at, convene and attend international and regional conferences, seminars and workshops, as well as our own seminar series. While maintaining a commitment to the value of the ethnographic monograph, we pursue new avenues of critical knowledge collaboration with other anthropologists and scholars from other disciplines, and with a much wider diversity of knowledge producers, creatives and public intellectuals beyond the academy, through a rich multiplicity of events, publications, exhibitions, venues and formats.

Outward facing and internationally engaged, UJ Anthropology’s orientation towards the anthropology of Africa is strengthened by critical awareness of how the intersection of global, regional and local processes shape meanings, practices and lives in diverse and consequential ways. We have particular regional expertise on South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and Kenya, and Lusophone, Southern and Eastern Africa more broadly, and our ethnographic research experiences range from epidemics, clinical trials and hospital settings to masculinities, boyhood and generation; from cities, households and neighbourhoods to water, dams and landscape; from sleep, dreaming and spirit possession to bodies, disease and death; from museums, commemoration and heritage to workspaces, labour struggles, institutions, and political technologies.


Why study Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of what makes us human, and highlights our commonalities, while at the same time teaching us about what makes us different. As anthropologists we seek to learn about lives, societies, and cultures that are different to our own, so that we may better understand ourselves. At UJ Anthropology we focus on four key areas: (1) Gender and personhood in different contexts and with respect to power relations; (2) The human body, corporeality and the ways these are understood and embedded in social and political life across different time periods and social and cultural contexts; (3) Cities, landscapes and the experiences of space and place urban and rural life across contemporary Africa ; (4) The world of work, labour and institutions, and how these shapes identity, politics and belonging.

Anthropology prepares students to become critical thinkers, to employ qualitative methodologies such as participant observation, to question common assumptions and popular wisdom, and to engage in robust academic debate about contemporary issues that impact our lives.

Possible careers include

A major in anthropology prepares students for a career in professions that require critical research skills, the ability to communicate with a broad range of stakeholders, and to generate innovative solutions to contemporary problems. Anthropologists can be found in research positions in non-governmental organisations, as museum curators, members of medical research teams in disease outbreaks, corporations that require understanding the relationship between machines and humans, as consultants for social impact assessments of development projects, as heritage consultants and contract archaeologists, as activists representing the interests of discriminated groups, and many more. Some anthropologists have become popular recording artists and internationally acclaimed musicians.

Majors and elective modules to combine with your major include

Anthropology may be combined with philosophy, historical studies, religion studies, politics, and sociology.