Année académique 2016-2017
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Dernière modification : le 16/09/2016 par Doyen, Françoise


Anthropology of Marginality
SOCA - D4994

I. Informations générales
Intitulé de l'unité d'enseignement * Anthropology of Marginality
Langue d'enseignement * Enseigné en anglais
Niveau du cadre de certification * Niveau 7 (2e cycle-MA/MC/MA60)
Discipline *
Titulaire(s) * [y inclus le coordonnateur] Marco DI NUNZIO (coordonnateur)
II. Place de l'enseignement
Unité(s) d'enseignement co-requise(s) *
Unité(s) d'enseignement pré-requise(s) *
Connaissances et compétences pré-requises *
Programme(s) d'études comprenant l'unité d'enseignement - M-ANTRS - Master en anthropologie (5 crédits, optionnel)
- M-COOPS - Master en sciences de la population et du développement (5 crédits, optionnel)
- M-SOCOS - Master en sociologie (5 crédits, optionnel)
III. Objectifs et méthodologies
Contribution de l'unité d'enseignement au profil d'enseignement *
Objectifs de l'unité d'enseignement (et/ou acquis d'apprentissages spécifiques) *


The notion of marginality has enjoyed a wide currency in anthropology and in the social sciences more broadly. However, it has often constituted a slippery concept that scholars have been employing to analyze different social, political, cultural realities as well as to elaborate wider intellectual narratives on the role and position of the poor and marginalized subjects in the society. This course aims at providing students with theoretical tools and grounded ethnographic knowledge to appreciate and disentangle the multiple dimensions of marginality as a social category, a process and a lived experience.

Contenu de l'unité d'enseignement *


The course is structured in five parts. 

1) The first part will explore the analytical tensions characterizing anthropological and ethnographic studies of marginality. We will focus on the risks of conceptualizing marginality as a form of liminality. Finally, we will explore the philosophical and theoretical debate on structure and agency.

2) In the second part of the course, we will discuss how anthropology and ethnography have explored the production of marginality. We will explore anthropological investigations of the political production of the category of the marginality. In addition, we will examine ethnographic analysis of how policies of intervention and integration can further forms of marginality and exclusion.

3) In the third part, we will examine marginality as a lived experience. Starting from ethnographic accounts of the everyday lives and life trajectories of marginalized subjects, we will investigate how marginality is navigated and lived through. We will focus on five case studies: the informal and illegal economies, the dynamics of sex work, labour, unemployment, and migration.

4) The fourth part explores methodological issues concerning the ethnographic study of marginality and the lived experienced of the marginalized. Drawing on insights from the previous sessions, we will discuss the extent to which ethnography is a valuable research method to combine political economy analysis with an appreciation of the lived experience.

5) Finally, the fifth part of the course will encourage students to discuss and reflect on the role of ethnographic writing about marginality and the relevance of anthropology as a tool for political, cultural, civic and social change. We will examine ethnographical examinations of ‘politics from below’ and discuss the extent to which anthropologists’ commitment to public debate and activism can make a difference.

Méthodes d'enseignement et activités d'apprentissages *

Class attendance and participation in discussions are crucial. The class will be structured in 30 minutes discussion followed by one and half-hour lecture. Each student must read the selected readings before the class. To insure active participation in the class, a paper from the readings from Week 3 and Week 12 will be randomly assigned and emailed to each student for them to present either in French or in English during the discussion sessions. Students will be invited to structure their presentation around two main points: 1) presentation of the argument being proposed in the reading; 2) discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the argument and its grounding in the ethnographic material

Support(s) de cours indispensable(s) *
Autres supports de cours
Références, bibliographie et lectures recommandées *
IV. Evaluation
Méthode(s) d'évaluation *

Students will be required to write a final paper either in French or in English to be evaluated for examination. The topic of the paper will be negotiated with the instructor. The word count for the paper will be 4000 - 4500 words. The paper will be examined and discussed through an oral exam to be held in January.

Construction de la note (en ce compris, la pondération des notes partielles) *
Langue d'évaluation *

English or French 

V. Organisation pratique
Institution organisatrice * ULB
Faculté gestionnaire * Philosophie et sc. sociales
Quadrimestre * Premier quadrimestre (NRE : 44800)
Horaire * Premier quadrimestre
Volume horaire
VI. Coordination pédagogique
Contact *
Lieu d’enseignement *
VII. Autres informations relatives à l’unité d’enseignement

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