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ARTF 5191M Anthropology Art And Rep Module Reading List

Anthropology, Art and Representation, 2020/21, Semester 2
Dr Will Rea
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Anthropology, Art and Representation: a reading list

Much of what I consider core reading is already on Minerva.  This list is a good starting point but these are the most basic introductory readings.

Primary (in order of publication)

Clifford, J. (1988) The predicament of culture : twentieth-century ethnography, literature, and art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP.

Coote, J., and A. Shelton, eds. (1992) Anthropology, art and aesthetics. Oxford: OUP.

Coombes, A.E. (1994) Reinventing Africa : museums, material culture and popular imagination in late Victorian and Edwardian England. New Haven: Yale UP.

Morphy, H. and M. Perkins (2006) The anthropology of art : a reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Morphy, H. (1994) The Anthropology of Art. In: The Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology, T. Ingold, ed. London: Routledge.

Richards, D. (1994) Masks of difference : cultural representations in literature, anthropology and art. Cambridge: CUP.

Marcus, G. and F. Myers (1995) The traffic in culture : refiguring art and anthropology. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Steiner, C. and R. Phillips (1998) Unpacking culture : art and commodity in colonial and postcolonial worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gell Alfred (1999) Art and agency : an anthropological theory, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Watson, S. ed. (2007) Museums and their communities. London: Routledge.

See also:

Layton, R. (1991) The anthropology of art. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Devereaux, L. and R. Hillman, eds (1996) Fields of Vision: Essays in Film Studies, Visual Anthropology and Photography. Berkely: California University Press.

Greenhalgh, M. and V. Megaw (1978) Art in society : studies in style, culture and aesthetics. London: Duckworth.

Banks, M., and H. Morphy. (1997). Rethinking visual anthropology. New Haven: Yale UP.

Hughes-Freeland, F. (1998) Ritual, performance, media. Routledge

MacClancy, J. (1997) Contesting art : art, identity and politics in the modern world. Oxford: Berg.

Mulvey L. (1996) Fetishism and curiosity. London: Bfi.

Sharma, S., J. Hutnyk and A. Sharma (1996) Dis-orienting rhythms : the politics of the new Asian dance music London: Zed Books.

Taylor, L. ed. (1994) Visualizing theory : selected essays from V.A.R., 1990-1994, New York: Routledge.

Thomas, N. (1995) Colonialism's culture : anthropology, travel and government Cambridge: Polity Press.

Thomas, N. and D. Losche, eds. (1999) Double vision : art histories and colonial histories in the Pacific. Cambridge: CUP.

An aid in this course is the conference held at the Tate Gallery, named Fieldworks: Dialogues between Art and Anthropology. Available to watch online at


Module schedule – Weekly details


Week 1.


 Week 2

 We begin with the definition of art as it is found in other places.  However, this week also introduces a history of comparison.

 Defining the problem I


Defining the Problem II – Art and artefact


Supplementary Readings


Week 3. Aesthetics


Can aesthetics be used as a way of finding a universal for the study of art?  In this week we concentrate on the GDAT debate in anthropology and aesthetics.

  • Ingold T. 1996 Aesthetics is a cross cultural category. In Group Debates In Anthropological Theory. University of Manchester.    
  • Coote J. 1992. Marvels of everyday vision. 
  • Morphy H. 1992. From Dull to Brilliant  

Both In J Coote & A Shelton 1992 Anthropology Art and Aesthetics. Oxford.


Week 4. Bodies, Tattoo & Cloth


We move to the idea of making human.  How does the material world interact with the human subject?  In this week we examine one of the closest interactions – between cloth, tattoo and the body.





Week 5. Gift & Fetish


We look to the alternative ways in which material forms manifest in other places.  Here we look to the contrast between the commodity form of objects as found in the West and the gift in PNG and the fetish in Africa.


The Gift and other objects. 


Material Things



  • Laura Mulvey 1993 Some thoughts on the Fetish in contemporary culture.  October  65
  • Mulvey, Laura. 2000. Xala: The Carapace that Failed. In Feminism and Filmedited by E. Ann Kaplan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (various other editions as well).


Week 6. Persons & Perspectives


Does changing our focus on the object allow us to rethink the way in which we see the world?  European linear perspective has defined our image making and ways of thinking.  What if there is another point of view?


Persons and perspectives




Supplementry reading





Week 7. Technologies of Enchantment


In this week we look to the modes of transformation.  Not only of materials but also of peoples.


Technologies of Enchantment Revisited

  • Gell A. 1992. The technology of enchantment and the enchantment of technology. In Coote and Shelton Anthropology, art and Aesthetics.    
  • Rowlands M and Warnier. 1993. The magical production of iron in the Cameroon Grassfields, in Shaw (Ed) The Archaeology of Africa. Routledge.
  • Pinney C. & Thomas N. 2001. Beyond Aesthetics Oxford, Berg. Chapters by Campbell and Kuchler.
  • Rea W. Masquerade in Ikole – unpublished (see VLE)
  • Rea W. 2017 Materialising Manifestation in Basu Ed. The Inbetweeness of things. Bloomsbury London.  

Week 8. Ethnographic Viewing


What are the scopic regimes that the west has placed on other peoples and how do those people get represented in modern museums.



Week 9. The artist as ethnographer and the modern Ethnographic museum

2nd May


Primitivism is the main form through which artists in the west have developed their work in relation to others.  What happens when the empire strikes back?


 NOTE - Reading to be Added.

Week 10To Be confirmed

This list was last updated on 26/01/2021