From the inception of the discipline in the 19th century, great ideas have always inspired and guided anthropologists when conducting their research amongst people all over the world. Such great ideas are born from the social and political contexts of their creators, and the challenge for scholars of anthropology today is to understand the value these ideas bring to modern fields of enquiry.
Each chapter in this textbook has been written to provide a thorough yet engaging introduction to one particular theoretical school and style. These chapters build up to a coherent and well-organised picture of the history and contemporary shape of anthropological theory. Beginning with an introduction which reflects on the substantive themes which tie the chapters together, the book ends with an afterword by Marilyn Strathern reflecting on broader themes in the use of history and anthropological concepts.
Presenting a detailed and comprehensive critical introduction to the most salient areas of the field, this book is essential reading for all undergraduate students undertaking a course on anthropological theory or the history of anthropological thought. It will also be useful reading for students of social and cultural anthropology, sociology, and human geography, and those enrolled in an anthropology course during their postgraduate degree with no background in the field.
"In this highly original contribution, leading anthropological scholars from the University of Cambridge provide a new and compelling approach to the history of anthropological ideas.... With each chapter authored by different anthropologists at the University of Cambridge, one gets a powerful sense of the perspective of that important school and at the same time original individual contributions from well-known anthropologists on key themes or thinkers that have impacted anthropological thought over the years. Insightful, succinct but also consistently challenging, I expect that these essays will inspire students of anthropology for years to come."
Adam Reed, University of St Andrews, UK
"A useful antidote to the presentism of much current anthropological theorizing, this rich and variegated collection - which takes account of some of the deepest roots and freshest sprigs - especially reflects the influential view of the discipline from the venerable Cambridge tradition, which displays in these pages an impressively global and historically comprehensive reach."
Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University, USA
"Anthropological theory does not exist per se. It has been conceptualized and formulated on the basis of our own academic work, developing and sometimes changing substantially over the years and decades, influenced by very personal experiences, social settings and political constellations. In fact, theory is as much a product of time and space as it is the achievement of intellectual forebears. Likewise its reception and critique is subject to change and ongoing discussion. The authors of this book, junior and senior, offer broad contexts and detailed knowledge without hiding their personal views and sympathies. A truly committed introduction."
Magnus Treiber, LMU Munchen, German
Introduction (Matei Candea) Part 1: Foundations 1. Evolution, Structure and Function (Matei Candea) 2. From Psychological Anthropology to Affect Theory (Yael Navaro-Yashin) 3. Structuralism (Rupert Stasch) 4. The Interpretive Turn: Geertz and After (James Laidlaw) 5. Back to Bases: Neo-Marxism in the 1970s (Caroline Humphrey) 6. From Transactionalism to Practice Theory (David Sneath) Part 2: Challenges and New Beginnings 7. From the Extended-Case Method to Multi-sited Ethnography (and Back) (Harri Englund) 8. Anthropology and Historical Perspectives (Susan Bayly) 9. The Frankfurt School, Critical Theory and Anthropology (Christos Lynteris) 10. Gender and Feminism (Jessica Johnson) 11. Foucault and his Anthropological Legacies (James Laidlaw) 12. Embodiment (Maryon McDonald) 13. Cognitive Anthropology as Epistemological Critique (Richard Irvine) 14. Actor Network Theory (Matei Candea) 15. The Ontological Turn: School or Style? (Paolo Heywood) 16. Persons and Partible Persons (Marilyn Strathern)