General points of departure

The Department of Cultural Anthropology finds its right to existence in the following points of departure:

  • Proceeding from the nature of cultural anthropology as a general human science, the science of humankind is presented to the student as basic formative knowledge from a cultural perspective. The emphasis is on culture as a phenomenon, based on the assumption that culture manifests itself and functions within social contexts.
  • The field of study has a transcultural, comparative focus and feels itself obliged to pass on precisely this perspective in a world of cultural variety. However, this is always done in full awareness of the fact that unity is the inverse of diversity.
  • Culture is dynamic, and for this reason, Cultural Anthropology can pass on information about change and transformation but also about cultural constancy. The attempt by Cultural Anthropology to study humanity at grassroots level by means of fieldwork and by proceeding from an own cultural experience probably constitutes the unique contribution of Cultural Anthropology to knowledge about humanity.

The subject is committed to providing guidance from a unique perspective regarding issues of development and change.


The Department takes the point of view that teaching is its most important activity (compared to other activities). Consequently, it proportionally devotes most of its time to teaching. The Department emphasises instructional outputs, while instructional inputs and processes are aimed at producing the envisaged student product. The impact of external factors such as economic, political and demographic factors, legislation, and the demands of the practical situation are continuously taken into account.

The envisaged student product must be able to master professional knowledge and methods independently, to plan and conduct research, and to make a professional contribution to the corpus of theory in the field of study. They should also be able to find solutions to problematic issues in practice. Ideally, such students should proceed to master's degree level at least.


The Department sees the function of rendering research as follows:

  • Research must be both theoretical and applied.
  • Research is an essential support function for teaching.
  • Research (by students and personnel) is conducted individually as well as in a team context.
  • Research awareness is cultivated in students from the first year onward, proceeding from literature and ethnographic research. Where possible and applicable, postgraduate students in particular are employed as research assistants.
  • Contract research receives particular attention for the sake of the financial, application and market value of the field of study.
  • The Department renders a professional service.
  • By definition, teaching and research constitute the service rendered to the community by the university.
  • Anthropology is a career-relevant discipline, and its application value is not restricted to a single walk of life.
  • The rendering of professional services that address the needs of a community must follow from the teaching and research functions of the department.
  • The Department feels itself called to make a contribution to the Reconstruction and Development Programme from an anthropological perspective.


T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

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