Purity and Danger

Author: Mary Douglas
Publisher: Psychology Press
ISBN: 0415291054
Release Date: 2003
Genre: Social Science

Purity and Danger is acknowledged as a modern masterpiece of anthropology. It is widely cited in non-anthropological works and gave rise to a body of application, rebuttal and development within anthropology. In 1995 the book was included among the Times Literary Supplement's hundred most influential non-fiction works since WWII. Incorporating the philosophy of religion and science and a generally holistic approach to classification, Douglas demonstrates the relevance of anthropological enquiries to an audience outside her immediate academic circle. She offers an approach to understanding rules of purity by examining what is considered unclean in various cultures. She sheds light on the symbolism of what is considered clean and dirty in relation to order in secular and religious, modern and primitive life.

Leviticus as Literature

Author: Mary Douglas
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198150923
Release Date: 1999
Genre: Religion

This first full-scale account of Leviticus by a world renowned anthropologist presents the biblical work as a literary masterpiece. Seen in an anthropological perspective Leviticus has a mystical structure which plots the book into three parts corresponding to the three parts of the desert tabernacle, both corresponding to the parts of Mount Sinai. This completely new reading transforms the interpretation of the purity laws. The pig and other forbidden animals are not abhorrent, they command the same respect due to all God's creatures. Boldly challenging several traditions of Bible criticism, Mary Douglas claims that Leviticus is not the narrow doctrine of a crabbed professional priesthood but a powerful intellectual statement about a modern religion which emphasizes God's justice and compassion.

A General Theory of Magic

Author: Marcel Mauss
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781134522231
Release Date: 2005-07-05
Genre: Social Science

First written by Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A General Theory of Magic gained a wide new readership when republished by Mauss in 1950. As a study of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival today in our thoughts and social actions, it represents what Claude Lévi-Strauss called, in an introduction to that edition, the astonishing modernity of the mind of one of the century's greatest thinkers. The book offers a fascinating snapshot of magic throughout various cultures as well as deep sociological and religious insights still very much relevant today. At a period when art, magic and science appear to be crossing paths once again, A General Theory of Magic presents itself as a classic for our times.

Risk and Culture

Author: Mary Douglas
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520907396
Release Date: 1983-10-27
Genre: Nature

Can we know the risks we face, now or in the future? No, we cannot; but yes, we must act as if we do. Some dangers are unknown; others are known, but not by us because no one person can know everything. Most people cannot be aware of most dangers at most times. Hence, no one can calculate precisely the total risk to be faced. How, then, do people decide which risks to take and which to ignore? On what basis are certain dangers guarded against and others relegated to secondary status? This book explores how we decide what risks to take and which to ignore, both as individuals and as a culture.

Natural Symbols

Author: Mary Douglas
Publisher: Psychology Press
ISBN: 9780415314541
Release Date: 2003
Genre: Social Science

One of the most important works of modern anthropology. Written against the backdrop of the student uprisings of the late 1960s, the book took seriously the revolutionary fervour of the times, but instead of seeking to destroy the rituals and symbols that can govern and oppress, Mary Douglas saw instead that if transformation were needed, it could only be made possible through better understanding. Expressed with clarity and dynamism, the passionate analysis which follows remains one of the most insightful and rewarding studies of human behaviour ever written.

Ethnographic Sorcery

Author: Harry G. West
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226894126
Release Date: 2008-09-15
Genre: Social Science

According to the people of the Mueda plateau in northern Mozambique, sorcerers remake the world by asserting the authority of their own imaginative visions of it. While conducting research among these Muedans, anthropologist Harry G. West made a revealing discovery—for many of them, West’s efforts to elaborate an ethnographic vision of their world was itself a form of sorcery. In Ethnographic Sorcery, West explores the fascinating issues provoked by this equation. A key theme of West’s research into sorcery is that one sorcerer’s claims can be challenged or reversed by other sorcerers. After West’s attempt to construct a metaphorical interpretation of Muedan assertions that the lions prowling their villages are fabricated by sorcerers is disputed by his Muedan research collaborators, West realized that ethnography and sorcery indeed have much in common. Rather than abandoning ethnography, West draws inspiration from this connection, arguing that anthropologists, along with the people they study, can scarcely avoid interpreting the world they inhabit, and that we are all, inescapably, ethnographic sorcerers.

History of Shit

Author: Dominique Laporte
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262621606
Release Date: 2002
Genre: History

History of Shit is emblematic of a wild and adventurous strain of 1970s' theoretical writing that attempted to marry theory, politics, sexuality, pleasure, experimentation, and humor.

Stone Age Economics

Author: Marshall Sahlins
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISBN: 9781351732697
Release Date: 2017-04-21
Genre: Business & Economics

Since its first publication over forty years ago Marshall Sahlins's Stone Age Economics has established itself as a classic of modern anthropology and arguably one of the founding works of anthropological economics. Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, Sahlins radically revises traditional views of the hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original "affluent society." Sahlins examines notions of production, distribution and exchange in early communities and examines the link between economics and cultural and social factors. A radical study of tribal economies, domestic production for livelihood, and of the submission of domestic production to the material and political demands of society at large, Stone Age Economics regards the economy as a category of culture rather than behaviour, in a class with politics and religion rather than rationality or prudence. Sahlins concludes, controversially, that the experiences of those living in subsistence economies may actually have been better, healthier and more fulfilled than the millions enjoying the affluence and luxury afforded by the economics of modern industrialisation and agriculture. This Routledge Classics edition includes a new foreword by David Graeber, London School of Economics.

A aisa s Gifts

Author: Michele Stephen
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520915275
Release Date: 1995-03-01
Genre: Social Science

Filled with insight, provocative in its conclusions, A'aisa's Gifts is a groundbreaking ethnography of the Mekeo of Papua New Guinea and a valuable contribution to anthropological theory. Based on twenty years' fieldwork, this richly detailed study of Mekeo esoteric knowledge, cosmology, and self-conceptualizations recasts accepted notions about magic and selfhood. Drawing on accounts by Mekeo ritual experts and laypersons, this is the first book to demonstrate magic's profound role in creating the self. It also argues convincingly that dream reporting provides a natural context for self-reflection. In presenting its data, the book develops the concept of "autonomous imagination" into a new theoretical framework for exploring subjective imagery processes across cultures.

Biosocial Becomings

Author: Tim Ingold
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781107434233
Release Date: 2013-06-13
Genre: Social Science

All human life unfolds within a matrix of relations, which are at once social and biological. Yet the study of humanity has long been divided between often incompatible 'social' and 'biological' approaches. Reaching beyond the dualisms of nature and society and of biology and culture, this volume proposes a unique and integrated view of anthropology and the life sciences. Featuring contributions from leading anthropologists, it explores human life as a process of 'becoming' rather than 'being', and demonstrates that humanity is neither given in the nature of our species nor acquired through culture but forged in the process of life itself. Combining wide-ranging theoretical argument with in-depth discussion of material from recent or ongoing field research, the chapters demonstrate how contemporary anthropology can move forward in tandem with groundbreaking discoveries in the biological sciences.

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

Author: Ruth Benedict
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780547525143
Release Date: 2006-01-25
Genre: Social Science

Essential reading for anyone interested in Japanese culture, this unsurpassed masterwork opens an intriguing window on Japan. Benedict’s World War II–era study paints an illuminating contrast between the culture of Japan and that of the United States. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is a revealing look at how and why our cultures differ, making it the perfect introduction to Japanese history and customs.

A Feast of Vultures The Hidden Business of Democracy in India

Author: Josy Joseph
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9789350297520
Release Date: 2016-07-10
Genre: Social Science

'Every day, millions of people - the rich, the poor and the many foreign visitors - are hunting for ways to get their business done in modern India. If they search in the right places and offer the appropriate price, there is always a facilitator who can get the job done. This book is a sneak preview of those searches, the middlemen who do those jobs, and the many opportunities that the fast-growing economy offers.' Josy Joseph draws upon two decades as an investigative journalist to expose a problem so pervasive that we do not have the words to speak of it. The story is big: that of treacherous business rivalries, of how some industrial houses practically own the country, of the shadowy men who run the nation's politics. The story is small: a village needs a road and a hospital, a graveyard needs a wall, people need toilets. A Feast of Vultures is an unprecedented, multiple-level inquiry into modern India, and the picture it reveals is both explosive and frightening. Within these covers is unimpeachable evidence against some of the country's biggest business houses and political figures, and the reopening of major scandals that have shaped its political narratives. Through hard-nosed investigations and the meticulous gathering of documentary evidence, Joseph clinically examines and irrefutably documents the non-reportable. It is a troubling narrative, but also a call to action and a cry for change. A tour de force through the wildly beating heart of post-socialist India, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the large, unwieldy truth about this nation.

Oprah

Author: Kathryn Lofton
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 9780520259270
Release Date: 2011-03-02
Genre: Religion

Oprah Winfrey is a media messiah for a secular age. This book is an examination of the religious dimensions of Oprah Winfrey's empire, deploying the idiom of US religious history and metrics of religious studies to assess Winfrey's success on the national and international scene.

Women in the Soviet Countryside

Author: Susan Bridger
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521328624
Release Date: 1987-12-17
Genre: Political Science

Research on women's roles in rural development has found that women's contribution to the rural economy is commonly underestimated and that women may find it difficult to benefit from the development process. Within this context, this book looks at the Soviet experience of development as reflected in the lives of rural women.