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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

ANT2114: The Anthropology of Prisons

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.

Module Aims

Prisons and their operation, purpose and value are topics of great interest and importance in the contemporary world. The primary aim of the module is to introduce you to key anthropological and sociological concepts relating to experiences of imprisonment, and to a wide range of ethnographic work on prisons in different geographical and cultural settings. What commonalities do we find, and in what ways are prison lives different in these settings? What kinds personhood, and what types of social relationships are forged through prisons, their environs and aftermaths? What bearing do ethnicity, kinship and group membership, for instance, have on experiences of constraint? We will also think about how prisons relate to other carceral environments in contemporary society, such as detention centres, psychiatric units and zoos. The module aims to equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to enable you to understand and evaluate the differing views expressed by established anthropologists in relation to prisons. You will be empowered to use anthropological work as a tool in the development of your own thinking around carcerality.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. display a knowledge of specific theoretical concepts and methodological approaches in the anthropology and sociology of prisons and the intellectual debates concerning them
2. display an awareness of, and sensitivity to, cultural diversity in relation to prison experiences and a reflexive appreciation of the complexity of these experiences
3. Demonstrate an ability to contextualise particular prison ethnographies in relation to the anthropology and sociology of prisons more widely, and to critically evaluate examples of ethnographic work on imprisonment
Discipline-Specific Skills4. demonstrate competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in anthropology and sociology via the application of appropriate theoretical models in the analysis of ethnographic case studies
5. demonstrate a recognition of the issues relating to ethnographic representation, the politics of language, indirect forms of communication, forms of power, theoretical statements and claims of authority, showing an ability to analyse these
6. plan, undertake and present scholarly work that shows an understanding of anthropological and sociological aims, methods and theoretical considerations
Personal and Key Skills7. express your own ideas orally and in writing, summarizing the arguments of others and drawing distinctions between the them
8. engage in constructive discussion in group situations and seminars
9. evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in learning and study skills and take action to improve your capacity to learn