Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


In this course we will explore cultural understandings of the body, and different perspectives of bodies in the social sciences. What has emerged from social science interests in the human body as it is lived, and how it is experienced as living from different cultural perspectives, has frequently been a multiplicity of bodies. The weekly lecture and workshops will explore and critically discuss ethnographic examples from around the world, addressing different social and cultural understandings of individual and social bodies, body politics, medicalised and other bodies. For instance, topics that may be included in this course are techniques of the body; tattooed bodies or cosmetic surgery; political bodies, organisations and meanings of embodiment; as well as social and cultural understandings of working with body politics.



  • Semester 1 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of different theoretical perspectives used to study social and cultural practices of living and experiencing the body, embodiment and human experiences, as well as bodies in cultural perspective.

2. Provide a critical understanding of how approaches to the body from both social and cultural perspectives have been used and developed over time.

3. Review knowledge of the way in which experiences are culturally constituted and socially controlled.

4. Critically analyse cultural understandings, representations and social practices of bodies in cultural perspective.

5. Assess the integration and application of anthropological perspectives of bodies in cultural perspective in the social sciences approaches.


Topics may include:

  1. Ethnographic studies of approaches to the body (e.g. embodiment, individual bodies, social bodies, body politics, and personal and cultural experiences of living the body.
  2. Ethnographic studies of how relationships are negotiated, understandings mediated and meanings constructed, with a particular emphasis on cultural difference(s).
  3. Theories of the ways in which experiences are symbolically, socially and culturally constructed and maintained.
  4. Theories of social and cultural approaches to the lived body, living the body, as well as bodies within different cultural contexts and perspectives.

Assumed knowledge

40 units of study at 1000 level

Assessment items

Essay: Essay 1 (40%)

In Term Test: Take Home Exam (40%)

Quiz: Quizzes (20%)

Participation: Workshop Participation (Formative)

Contact hours



Online 1 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks


Online 1 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.