Anthropology is the comparative study of the manifold ways in which people make sense of the world around them and hence focuses on culture. A few common questions posed by anthropology are: how are societies different and how are they the same? How has evolution shaped how we think? Are there human universals? By taking the time to study peoples’ lives in detail, anthropologists explore what makes us uniquely human. In doing so, they aim to increase our understanding of ourselves and of each other. In today’s global world - the world of migrating people, objects, and ideologies - this knowledge is essential to the fostering of peaceful coexistence.

Anthropologists work as university teachers, community development workers, journalists, social workers, human resources managers, race relations workers, international organization administrators, charity officers, museum education officers etc.

Relevant information about pursuing a master's in anthropology in the Netherlands can be found on Study Portals Masters

Utrecht University offers the following master's in anthropology:

100-level course

UCSSCANT11: Introduction to Anthropology
The course introduces the basic concepts, terms, and research methods of cultural anthropology. Key texts by founders situate core concepts in the discipline’s historical development and acquaint students with the principal areas of anthropological inquiry, such as social organization, politics, subsistence, kinship and marriage. These are illustrated through a reading of a classic ethnography and a study of modern Brazilian culture in post-industrial society. This course has a broad appeal for liberal arts students, and complements interests in SSC (particularly geography, development, sociology, and psychology), HUM (philosophy, linguistics, history, literature), and SCI (environmental studies, medicine).

200-level courses

UCSSCANT21: Violence, Trauma & Memory
This course is an exploration of violence, trauma, and memory as manifested in genocide, ethnic cleansing, and nationalism. The course examines social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions on multiple levels of social reality. It pays close attention complex ethical, theoretical and conceptual problems of studying violence and trauma by reading empirical studies and comparative analyses. In both content and methodology, this course is of particular value to students with an interest in politics, psychology, law, and history.

UCSSCANT22: Gender & Sexuality 
This course focuses on the central questions that concern anthropologists interested in the nature and determinants of gender roles, gender relations, and gender stratification. By presenting ethnographic and historical accounts of gender variations and how they are currently understood and displayed, the course reveals the social and cultural forces that have created changes in sex/gender systems. It pays particular attention to the ways in which categories of gender/sexuality are deployed in various discursive regimes such as nationalism, modernism, colonialism, and globalization. Of interest to students in HUM (history, art history, linguistics, literature, philosophy) and SCI (pre-medical track, biology).

UCSSCANT23: The Materiality of Culture
This course examines how different forms of material and visual culture shape social action and discourses about authenticity, identity, tradition, modernity, heritage and citizenship. It draws upon key anthropological theorists to examine cases of visual and material culture, including cross-cultural uses of photography and art. Students make active use of visual research methods in a group project. The course is of value to students interested in comparative visual culture, human geography, law, politics, history, art history and museum studies, literature. UCHUMHAR22 Museum Studies and UCHUMHAR32 Heritage are both cross-listed with Anthropology.

UCSSCANT25: Anthropology of Conservation
The global environmental movement, and its corollary initiatives of ‘conservation’, is having dramatic effects on people and places throughout the world. It is amounting to powerful environmentalisms that are invoking a host of discursive and material contestation, transforming human-environment relations. We are in an environmental epoch, or the “Anthropocene”, as many have begun to call it. It is a period characterized, in part, by conservation complexes that are reframing how we conceptualize ‘nature’, transforming its use and governance, reconfiguring landscapes, and reconstituting identities in the process. Put another way, a whole new form of “environmentality” has erupted across the world, introducing new technologies of government and self. This course draws on political ecology and anthropological theories in order to understand the genealogy of conservation, the discourse of environment and sustainability, as well as the power and politics that animate contemporary opportunities and pitfalls in the field of environmental conservation. The course is of essence to all students interested in a sustainable world and/or pursuing environmental and sustainability studies.

300-level courses

UCSSCANT31: Anthropology of Power
This course gives an insight into the globally and locally constructed relations of power in the world today, and into their causes and consequences as well as the processes of resistance to the dominant power relations and alternative constructions of world order advanced by marginal groups. It is of interest to students intending to pursue careers in politics, civil service and law.

UCSSCANT34: Contemporary Violent Democracies
This course examines how a range of socio-economic and political transformations have generated new or reinvigorated existing mechanisms of exclusion, insecurities, emerging informal powers and rivalries between different sources of sovereignty and have hence given rise to conflicts and violence. Manifestations are lynching, gangs, organized crime, and sudden uprisings and riots. Yet all these phenomena occur within the framework of apparently successful democracies and liberalized open economies. What does this mean for our understanding of contemporary democracies and notions of rule of law and justice? This course approaches these phenomena and questions above all by reading and discussing ethnographic (case) studies, mainly about the global South. Theoretically, it investigates the meanings and explanatory power of concepts developed to come to grips with paradoxical trends such as violent democracies, gray zones, fragmented sovereignties, and informal orders. The course navigates between literatures from anthropology, political science and sociology and is thus of interest to students who plan on following a career in these disciplines.

UCHUMHAR32: Heritage: Dynamics of Collections
This course focuses on heritage as a global phenomenon that includes both old and newer public museum collections, heritage sites, and intangible cultural heritage. The identification of that which is considered valuable for posterity is a continuous process involving negotiation and contestation, with canons being created and revised worldwide.  The course examines historical collection formation, classification, preservation and mediation processes, through case studies from Europe and beyond, with the British Museum, as the first public museum in the world, as the centerpiece. This course is cross-listed with Museum Studies (CHIP) and is essential for those interested in a related career.

Anthropology UCSSCANT Fall Spring Prerequisites
11 Introduction to Anthropology 2 1  None
21 Violence, Trauma & Memory 2 0 Any SSC 100-level, preferably 11
22 Gender & Sexuality 0 1 Any SSC 100-level, preferably 11
23 The Materiality of Culture 0 1 Any SSC 100-level, preferably 11
25 Anthropology of Conservation 0 1 Any SSC 100-level, preferably 11
UCHUMHAR22 Museum Studies 1 0 11, or UCUHUMHIS14, or UCUHUMAR11
31 Anthropology of Power 1 0 any of 21, 22, 23, 25, UCUHUMHAR22
UCHUMHAR32 Heritage: Dynamics of Collections 0 1 UCUHUMHAR11 and 21, or 22, or UCSSCANT23/cross-listed with CHIP
UCUSSCANT34 Contemporary Violent Democracies 0 1 11, 22, recommended POL23

Dr. Longina Jakubowska
Anthropology Fellow
Social stratification; collective memory; post-communist societies; gender & sexuality; Middle East; Central Europe

Prof. Wil Pansters
Politics; state-making; violence; drugs; justice; Latin America

Dr. Mary Bouquet
Anthropology of art and collections; museum studies

Dr. Rhoda Woets
Anthropology of art; West Africa

Dr. Eva van Roekel
Memory, transitional justice, visual anthropology, South and Latin America

Drs. Corey Wright
Anthropology of development; environmentalism; East Africa

Contact person

Prof. Dr. Wil Pansters is the Anthropology fellow at UCU.