Monthly Archives: May 2016


Sun, burgers, good laughter, goodie bags and plenty of familiar and new faces – these were all part of the end of year Student Engagement and Academic Representation BBQ held at the RAM garden on campus. The event was organised by George Flower and Anna Hamilton from the College of Social Sciences and International Studies with the aim of rewarding students from the college for their dedication to the improvement of the student experience.


Plenty of awards recognizing the achievements of various projects and individuals were handed out. Within the department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology (SPA), members of the Sociology and Anthropology society were commended on their contributions to the department, alongside Global Exe, the youth project started by editor of this blog, Jason Chang.


The BBQ provided an opportunity for SPA to interact with other attendees from CSSIS. Attendees from the politics department who had set up the “Diplomatic Hub” conversed with attendees from Global Exe and exchanged various ideas between each other to improve and make progress to their own individual projects.


The melting pot of ideas and conversations did not simply stop at the projects and initiatives that students had set up. With the wealth of expertise in attendance, students from law to philosophy conversed about ideas for their future and also the sharing of good practice in their coursework. Among the many themes of discussion at the table included the study of linguistics, military law and even the sociology of name tags!

If you would like to join the table for such interesting conversations and would like to represent your cohort in a leadership position, places are still available to nominate yourself to be a representative for the Sociology, Philosophy or Anthropology SSLC positions! If you would like to find out more information or nominate yourself, email today!

Jason Chang

Desert Island Books: Philosophy

Continuing our ‘Desert Island Books’ posts, editor Samuel Fawcett lists five essential books that any philosophy student should read.

René Descartes – Meditations on First Philosophy

Descartes is often referred to as the father of modern philosophy, and his Meditations underpins his thought and outlines most of his key      ideas. Intended as a proof of the existence of God, the Meditations have nonetheless proved a touchstone for both religious and secular philosophers, as they stress the importance of scepticism and methodic doubt. It is in this work that the famous ‘I think, therefore I am’ statement originates.

Ludwig Wittgenstein – Philosophical Investigations

A hugely controversial figure in his day, Wittgenstein proposed that nearly all philosophical problems were simply due to semantic and linguistic issues. Philosophical Investigations is his attempt to demonstrate the limitations of language and meaning and how it impedes our search for truth. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the philosophy of language, and serves as a foundation for much of post-modern thought. This work is famed for Wittgenstein theorising that if a lion could speak English, we wouldn’t be able to understand it.

Simone de Beauvoir – The Second Sex

De Beauvoir was a giant of both existentialist and feminist philosophy, and her work, The Second Sex, is regarded by many as her magnum opus. The book deals with the multitudinous ways in which women’s bodies and thoughts are regulated by a patriarchal society and puts forward a pathway to liberation. It is a groundbreaking work that is credited with igniting second-wave feminism, and it was instantly placed on the Vatican’s list of prohibited books. It was in this work that de Beauvoir stated, ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.’

Hegel – The Phenomenology of Spirit

If you can make your way through Hegel’s turgid and often over-complicated prose, The Phenomenology of Spirit is one of the most rewarding and important books in understanding modern philosophy. It is in this work that Hegel outlines his famous ideas of the dialectic and absolute idealism. The broad range of topics and ideas covered in Phenomenology formed the basis for many future philosophical and political schools, including existentialism, communism, fascism and nihilism.

Plato – Republic

No list of essential philosophical texts would be complete without Plato’s Republic. Arguably the most influential work of philosophy and political theory ever written, the Republic outlines Plato’s concepts of justice, liberty and fair governance. In outlining these ideas, Plato also puts forward his famous allegory of the cave and his theory of ideas. So many philosophical schools and ideas can trace their roots back to Plato’s Republic, and this alone makes it an essential read for philosophy students.

Anthropology Desert Island Books


Looking to do some anthropological summer reading to get you in the academic mindset but not sure where to start? Wanting a casual read that’s both fun and informative? Not sure whether to start with classic or contemporary literature? Then check out this Desert Island Books recommendation by Anthropology Editor Jess Wiemer, who provides her must-read anthropological favourites.


Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology: Humanity, Culture and Social Life

By Tim Ingold

This volume is a comprehensive guide to the main theories and arguments in cultural and biological anthropology. It contains sections on human evolution, the components of culture and their histories, and social processes. This volume is ideal in gaining a basic understanding of the field of anthropology. Its short, succinct sections work perfectly as a quick and easy reference.



Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

By Yuval Noah Harari

This volume is ideal for the budding biological anthropologist. This historical overview of humankind begins discussing ‘The Cognitive Revolution’ through an examination of human biological evolution. From there Harari moves on to discuss ‘The Agricultural Revolution’ and the beginnings of human culture, followed by ‘The Unification of Humankind’ and imperialism. He concludes by examining ‘The Scientific Revolution’ which includes an in-depth analysis of capitalism and industry. This volume exquisitely details the main events in human history and its consequences. Sapiens is a perfect resource to use when attempting to examine social events with philosophical, sociological, historical, biological, and cultural anthropological perspectives.



Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory

By Alfred Gell

This intriguing volume examines arguments surrounding the agency of art. Agency is define as the intentional will of an actor for a specific outcome to occur. Gell theorizes that art objects are actors with the capacity to enact agency on the viewers of the art objects. For anyone interested in Actor-Network theory, art, or technology, Art and Agency is a brilliant work conceptualizing contemporary ideas on the blurred lines between the human and non-human.



Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache

By Keith Basso

This ethnography examines conceptions of space and place by focusing on landscape ontologies of the Western Apache nation of east central Arizona. This fascinating volume delves into theories surrounding the symbiotic relationship between humans and landscape, and the agency and cultural meanings derived from both. Basso’s poetic writing engages the reader whilst remaining analytical in his research. Wisdom Sits in Places is and exciting read for those interested in landscape, the agency of objects, or theoretical ethnographies.



Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography

By James Clifford and George Marcus

This brilliant volume edited by Clifford and Marcus is an essential read for anyone interested in writing ethnographically. It delves into controversial ethical dilemmas surrounding ethnographic writing including issues of bias and problematic data. It examines the argument that being a distant, scientific observer is not only impossible to be as an anthropologist, but the attempt perpetuates ideas of Western supremacy of knowledge which stems from imperialism. This volume thoroughly analyses the changing dynamic of ethnography and cultural intervention in the postmodern era, and is critical for students learning how to research and write ethnographically.


Join the Buddy Scheme!

Keen to provide a friendly, peer-to-peer support for incoming freshers for the next academic year? Then the Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology department wants you! The SPA Buddy Scheme is a Peer Mentoring programme run by students, for students.

Starting out at university can be a big change, and the Buddy Scheme aims to provide pastoral support for first year students to help them feel more settled in the university. Keen to support and empower mentees to find solutions to problems, signposting them to appropriate services and building a supportive relationship to get them off their mark? Then the Buddy Scheme is just for you!

Jess Wiemer, one of our editors and current Buddy Scheme mentor, rates the scheme highly –

“The Buddy Scheme was a great opportunity to help first year students feel more comfortable at university. I found the scheme to be a more intimate way for them to get to know the university and the town from a student perspective, as opposed to speaking to lecturers or the university administration. Not only was it exciting to help students, but I made new friends along the way. I really enjoyed the experience.”

What will you take away from it? As a former mentor myself, I found that you will develop your verbal and listening skills, alongside understanding how to maintain boundaries while being fully supportive in understanding the experience of working with the needs of students in a higher education institute.

Interested? Applications should be submitted by 25th May at the following link:

Questions? Contact for your queries!