ATS3376 - Anthropology of human rights - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit


Chief examiner(s)

Dr Birgit Braeuchler


Dr Birgit Braeuchler

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.


ATS2376, COS2350, COS3350


The unit introduces students to cross-cultural notions of human rights. Anthropology places human rights in broader analyses of power, politics and social inequality. Political leaders in various countries dismiss human rights as a Western concept that cannot be universalised. At the same time, tensions exist between anthropological notions of cultural plurality and relativism and the universalism inherent in dominant human rights discourse. Yet critical representatives of the discipline argue that anthropologists are ethically bound to defend human rights. This unit will explore the debates within anthropology over human rights. It will explore related notions of conflict, structural violence, peace, law and human rights activism with ethnographic examples from a range of geographic and sociocultural settings. In doing so, this unit will introduce students to key concepts and debates in the anthropology of human rights and provide fresh, rich understandings of local-global frictions and the operation of power.


Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. explain key concepts and debates in the anthropology of human rights;
  2. recognise and analyse the importance, scope and distinctiveness of anthropology's contribution to the analysis of power and human rights in Western and non-Western countries;
  3. critically appraise different theoretical approaches and methodological issues from the discipline of anthropology to the study of human rights;
  4. express complex and independent analytical and critical thinking, and produce clear, original and coherent accounts of theories, knowledge and logical argument;
  5. apply qualitative academic research methods and skills to identify, examine and evaluate data, texts and sources to reveal patterns, themes and meanings.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study