SANT2028 - Policy and power


New from the academic year 2024/2025

Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Assignment
Grade: Letter grades

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Assignment 100/100

Course content

This course explores how we understand power relations, with an emphasis on recent anthropological analyses of relations between people and governing institutions.

State and institutional power is often seen as legitimate and may not even be recognized as power at all. This course looks at the complex and often indirect ways that power works in the relations between people and states and other modern institutions. Through cases involving relations between indigenous people and the state, encounters between local communities and international development agencies, the connections and alliances between states and corporations, and more, the course will give insight into how people are shaped in their encounters with institutions, how power can become naturalized and legitimized, how dispossession can happen in subtle ways and through distributed action, and how people attempt to resist in various ways the workings of state and institutional power.

Grounded in concrete empirical cases, the course explores questions around how to understand power without intention, power done through systems and structures, power without central control, power done through the actions of many and no one in particular, power done through absence of action or absence of awareness, as well as how such indirect power can combine with more direct calculated effort.

Learning outcome

By the end of this course you will have:


  • Knowledge about classic and more recent anthropological analyses of power and policy.
  • An understanding of how anthropologists have looked at the relationships between people and governing institutions.
  • An understanding of some important concepts in anthropology, such as power and resistance, as well as how these can be understood in different ways and lead to different kinds of analysis.


  • Be able to discuss the implications of different perspectives and compare perspectives against each other.
  • Be able to discuss case studies in light of theories and theories in light of empirical description.

General competence

  • Experience with academic writing.
  • Experience developing your own idea and research question for a paper.
  • Experience revising your written work in response to feedback.

Learning methods and activities

A combination of lectures and seminar discussion.

Compulsory assignments

  • Assignment draft

Further on evaluation

The exam is a semester paper of 2500-3000 words. The exam can be written in Norwegian, English or another Scandinavian language.

The mandatory activity in this course is to get the topic for your semester paper approved by the lecturer and submit a draft of your paper which you will receive comments on.

Course materials

The reading list will be available at the beginning of the semester.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Intermediate course, level II


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  SPRING 2025

Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Social Anthropology
Contact information
Course coordinator:

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Social Anthropology


Examination arrangement: Assignment

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Spring ORD Assignment 100/100 INSPERA
Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

More on examinations at NTNU