Cultural Anthropology 4: globalization and sociocultural complexity


About this course

Although transnational connections, the movement of people and the exchange of capital, goods and ideas, have long colored social life and cultural processes across the world, the magnitude of contemporary globalization is unprecedented. Increasing human diversity, shifts in balances of power, the emergence of new existential insecurities and opportunities, and the accelerated transformation of our life worlds are the inevitable outcome of a blend of recent developments that have determined the context in which global interconnectedness has severely intensified. In particular, the impact of today's globalization relates to the diminish of geopolitical bi-polarity after the Cold War era, the effects of neoliberal economics, the occurrence of global calamities and deterritorialized conflict, and the rapid evolution of especially information and communication technology. This course aims to investigate contemporary globalization and its linkage with some crucial social and cultural processes. Catalysts of globalization and sociocultural complexity will be critically assessed, especially the 'new' media. Furthermore, the effects of global interconnectedness are explored by dissecting phenomena like migration, the upsurge of religious movements, and the rise of transnationalism. Interrelated issues that will also be addressed in the series of lectures involve community formation, identity construction, cultural innovation versus cultural survival, and the shifting relationship between agency and structure. As such, 'Globalization and sociocultural complexity' should be regarded an introduction to current anthropology that logically follows 'Culturele Antropologie 2' in its aim to deepen students' understanding of theoretical approaches to, and the ethnography of, present-day's highly intricate social realities.

Assumed knowledge
Knowledge of the English language

Learning outcomes

  • Introduction to key concepts and principal theoretical debates concerning globalization and the unprecedented complexity that marks social life today.
  • Introduction to an analytic framework that facilitates the exploration of both the foundations and effects of hypermobility and interconnectedness from an anthropological perspective.
  • Introduction to, and dissection of, cases in which the local (and context specific) impact of global forces manifests.
  • Insight into intertwined processes of cultural reproduction and cultural transformation.
  • Insight into the organization and (re)definition of collectives in contexts of contemporary globalization.
  • Insight into the changing relationship between individuals and social structures/formations as the result of social and economic developments and advancements in the realm of (information) technology.

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Utrecht University.


  • Start date

    21 April 2025

    • Ends
      27 June 2025
    • Term *
      Period 4
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      4 Nov, 09:00 - 22 Nov 2024
    Enrolment starts in 113 days
These offerings are valid for students of TU Eindhoven