Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Contemporary Art + Anthropology //// About this Course

MA Contemporary Art Theory, School of Art, ECA

Course Handbook 2024

Welcome to the course!!!

Q. Where is the course handbook?

A. This IS the course handbook.

The rationale and context of each of the Deadlines, Assignments & Assessment Details is supported by this course handbook – all resources are either here or link from here.

Here you will find flipped learning resources in advance of the Workshops which can be viewed online and supporting materials which scaffold your role as a supportive peer.

This experimental course explores and develops the convergence of the anthropological turn in contemporary art practices with the visual, material and practice turns in social anthropology with the aim of fostering a new art+anthropology interdiscipline.

The course will engage you with the anthropological and ethnographic turns in artistic practice and the practice-turn in social and visual anthropology, foregrounding 20th and 21st century case studies wherein art+anthropology have become enmeshed.

You will participate in collaborative practices and approaches that combine artistic and anthropological research methods.

You will learn how to work on an innovative research project that is informed by anthropological research and contemporary artistic practice.

This course is a learning experiment, of sorts.

Some of the approaches we will take are partly based on research conducted by the course organiser Neil Mulholland and by Richard Baxstrom, Professor of Social Anthropology, Deputy Head of the School of Social and Political Science. The research comes under the banner of the Atelier network. Many of the research themes and methods that you will follow on this course emerge from those that have been play-tested within Atelier or that are part of Atelier ‘s research activities for 2023. So, while this particular course is new, and the present blended approach is also relatively new, the way that the course is organised has been carefully tested, reviewed and calibrated over a long period of time.

This year, Frances Davis brings her considerable expertise as a curator and arts programmer to bear upon the course design and content. Frances’ doctoral research on the contemporary art and anthropology is pivotal to the learning style and research ambitions of this course.

Anthropology of Art, Anthropology-as-Art, Art-as-Anthropology

What the course is concerned with primarily is how we might combine the distinct disciplines of contemporary art and anthropology to create a hybrid of both – an interdiscipline.

The course will begin by encouraging you to raise questions about each discipline by focusing on ‘exchange’ and ‘aquisition’.


Disciplinary Exchange:

What might anthropologists learn from art?

What might contemporary art learn from anthropology?

Art-as-Anthropology: How might art be considered to be a form of ‘anthropology’?

Anthropology-as-Art: How might anthropology be considered to be a form of ‘artistic practice’?


Disciplinary Acquisition:

How do people learn to become artists?

How do people learn to become anthropologists?

How, when and where do these two forms of disciplinary acquisition overlap?


The course does not seek to answer these questions definitively; rather, it asks you to work alongside your peers to engage with and develop new ways of working that you think are important. This is what we will call ‘experimental learning’; learning about and testing different ways of learning. You will do this in an artistic context (of you own making). As such, what you do will form a continuum that moves back and forth between two closely related domains.

How? Not What?

What you might learn, in a sense, will be up to you (especially in relation to your individual research proposal) and your Breakout Group. Remember that this course is concerned with practice-as-research. What you learn is, ultimately, of less importance than how you approach learning and how you reflect upon how you have learned.



All course communications via: MS Teams ‘Contemporary Art + Anthropology’ Channel

We will NOT be using email in this course.

MS Teams is part of a free suite of software that you get from Microsoft as a University of Edinburgh student (MS Office 365).

Teams is quite simple to use. If you have any issues with it, there are lots of videos and online forums that will resolve your problem.

If you want to know more about how it works then watch this short video.


If staff need to communicate with you individually, rather than in a group, they will use MS Teams chat. You will receive emails only when the subject matter is too lengthy to place in MS Teams chat or when comms are sent to you directly from the ECA SAAS.

Please remember to try not to communicate with staff via email; please use MS Chat in Teams.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Neil Mulholland 2023-24



Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.