Giving and Taking: Anthropology and Archaeology of Circulation and Exchange (ARC2124)

StaffDr Marisa Lazzari - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Pre-requisitesCannot also take ARC3124
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims to develop an appreciation of the role of circulatory practices in the interweaving of people and communities at various levels in different moments of human history, from interpersonal level to wider collective and even global scales. It aims at deepening students understanding of the principles and methodologies involved in tracing these connections empirically as well as in the theoretical models necessary for their interpretation. In this way, the module seeks to develop a critical understanding of the role of human connectivity and its implications in a variety of spheres of practices, from culture and the arts to economics and global flows of capital, in order to highlight commonalities and contrasts between modern and ancient lives.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Discuss the different theories and perspectives developed to account for the movement of things and materials across space
  • 2. Understand the social relevance of such movements both in contemporary and past societies
  • 3. Discuss the relevance of these frameworks in specific case studies

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Critically reflect on the complex practices of circulation developed by human societies in a variety of contexts and time periods
  • 5. Integrate interdisciplinary approaches to build interpretations about circulating objects and materials

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Compare and synthesise opposing views on complex topics
  • 7. Show initiative and originality in tackling and solving research problems
  • 8. Take part in group activities and discussions in presence or online, posing pertinent questions
  • 9. Organise work efficiently with respect to deadlines

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics: 

  • Why study circulation? Defining terms: circulation, Exchange, trade, culture and translation 
  • Object lives: why and how things move around 
  • Classification, value and exchange: the social lives of things 
  • Objects re-contextualised: translating culture and authenticity 
  • Archaeological approaches 1: earlier studies 
  • Archaeological approaches 2: recent developments 
  • Workshop 1. Reading ethnographies of circulation and exchange  
  • Landscape & circulation:  Examples from the Andes 
  • Cultural heritage, circulation & recognition: the poison in the gift 
  • Workshop 2. What can we learn from ancient circulation in order to understand its role in the contemporary world?

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching16Lecture content, discussion events and writing/multimedia exercises (equivalent to 8 x 2 hours) sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Workshop (equivalent to 2 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching0.5Essay Tutorial
Guided Independent Study131.5Guided independent study, including reading, research and preparation for lectures, workshops and assignments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Preparatory readings for sessionsWeekly4,6,8Oral feedback from module instructor and peers
Specific readings for workshops and participation (either in presence or via discussion board) 1 hour per workshop3,6,8Oral feedback from module instructor and peers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual presentation (in presence or pre-recorded)3010 minutes (8-10 slides max, submission of PowerPoint + script)1-3,6-7,9Mark and written feedback
Essay702000 words1-3,5-7,9Mark and written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PresentationIndividual presentation or written essay (1000 words max)1-3,6-7,9Referral/deferral period
EssayWritten assignment (2000 words)1-3,5-7,9Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment. 

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Appadurai, A.1988. The Social Life of Things. CUP 
  • Bourdieu, P. 1990. An Outline of a Theory of Practice. CUP 
  • Humphrey, and Hugh-Jones. Barter, Exchange and Value. CUP 
  • Mauss, M. 1990. The Gift. Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies.  Norton. 
  • Malinowski, B. 1986. Argonauts of the Western Pacific. Waveland Press 
  • Myers, F. 2005. The Empire of Things. CUP 
  • Mayer, E. The Articulated Peasant. Household Economies in the Andes. Westview 
  • Munn, N. The fame of Gawa. Duke University Press 
  • Sykes, K. Arguing with Anthropology. Routledge.  
  • Tsing, A. 2004. Friction. An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton University press. 
  • Thomas, N. 1993. Entangled objects.  Harvard Univesity Press. 
  • Van Bisbergen W. & P. Gescheire2005. Commodification: Things, Agency, and Identities: ("The Social Life of Things" revisited). LIT Verlag.  
  • Weiner, A. 1992. Inalienable Possessions. The Paradox of Keeping-while-Giving. California University Press. 
  • Weiss, B. The Making and un-Making of the Haya Lived World. Duke. 

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

March 2013

Last revision date


Key words search

Archaeology, Anthropology, Exchange, Material Culture, Commodification