The Dictionary of Anthropology is designed to become the standard reference guide to the discipline of social and cultural anthropology. Its core consists of substantial analytical articles focusing on key anthropological concepts, theories and methodologies. Drawing on contributions from some 120 distinguished American and British anthropologists, the Dictionary provides both state of the art critiques of current issues in anthropology and key summary assessments of the discipline's most important historical contributions to general knowledge. By explaining the concepts of specific ethnographic and thematic research the Dictionary also provides the reader with clear, concise statements of central issues without privileging any particular theoretical approach. The Dictionary contains definitional entries of technical terms, but it is chiefly characterized by long articles each followed by references and suggestions for further reading. The former, collated at the end of the work in one alphabetical sequence of some 3,000 entries, will in itself be a valuable research tool.
A random sample of entries includes Timothy Earle on chiefs and chieftains, William Arens on cannibalism, Christopher Boehm on feuding, Laura Nader on legal anthropology, Thomas Glick on oriental despotism, David Parkin on monotheism, Jack Goody on succession rules and writing systems and Charles Lindholm on shamanism. The dictionary also includes critical assessments of the founders and twentieth-century leaders of the discipline, including, for example, Alan Macfarlane on Henry Maine, John Davis on Ernest Gellner, Krishan Kumar on Herbert Spencer, Leslie Sponsel on Julian Steward and Thomas Trautman on Louis Henry Morgan.
"A bargain, the dictionary is a handy ready-reference source and should be particularly useful to students" Joyce Ogburn, Old Dominion University
"The Barfield work will probably be of greatest value to people in related fields or to beginning teachers of anthropology who may need a quick fix on central ideas or people." Philip K. Bock, University of New Mexico