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Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History

© 2012
by R. Jon Mcgee, Richard Warms

5th Edition 672 Pages Paperback / softback
9780078034886 0078034884
  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • Features
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A comprehensive and accessible survey of the history of theory in anthropology, this anthology of classic and contemporary readings contains in-depth commentary in introductions and notes to help guide students through excerpts of seminal anthropological works. The commentary provides the background information needed to understand each article, its central concepts, and its relationship to the social and historical context in which it was written.
Preface Introduction

Part One: Historical Foundations of Anthropological Theory

Nineteenth-Century Evolutionism

1. Herbert Spencer, The Social Organism (1860)

2. Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, The Science of Culture (1871)

3. Lewis Henry Morgan, Ethnical Periods (1877)

4. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook (1845-1846)

The Foundations of Sociological Thought

5. Émile Durkheim, What is a Social Fact? (1895)

6. Marcel Mauss, Excerpts from The Gift (1925)

7. Max Weber, Class, Status, Party (1922)

Part Two: Culture Theory in the Early Twentieth Century

Historical Particularism

8. Franz Boas, The Methods of Ethnology (1920)

9. A. L. Kroeber, Eighteen Professions (1915)

10. Benjamin L. Whorf, The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language (1939)


11. Bronislaw Malinowski, The Essentials of the Kula (1922)

12. A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, On Joking Relationships (1940)

13. Max Gluckman, The Licence in Ritual (1956)

Culture and Personality

14. Ruth Fulton Benedict, Psychological Types in the Cultures of the Southwest (1928)

15. Margaret Mead, Introduction to Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)

Part Three: Theory at Midcentury

The Reemergence of Evolutionary Thought

16. Leslie White, Energy and the Evolution of Culture (1943)

17. Julian Steward, The Patrilineal Band (1955)

Neomaterialism: Evolutionary, Functionalist, Ecological, and Marxist

18. Morton H. Fried, On the Evolution of Social Stratification and the State (1960)

19. Marvin Harris, The Cultural Ecology of India's Sacred Cattle (1966)

20. Roy A. Rappaport, Ritual Regulation of Environmental Relations Among a New Guinea People (1967)

21. Eric Wolf, Peasantry and Its Problems (1966)


22. Claude Lévi-Strauss, Four Winnebago Myths: A Structural Sketch (1960)

23. Sherry B. Ortner, Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture? (1974)

Ethnoscience and Cognitive Anthropology

24. Harold C. Conklin, Hanunóo Color Categories (1955)

25. Stephen A. Tyler, Introduction to Cognitive Anthropology (1969)

Part Four: The Late Twentieth Century and Beyond

Sociobiology, Evolutionary Psychology, and Behavioral Ecology

26. Edward O. Wilson, The Morality of the Gene (1975)

27. Rebecca Bliege Bird, Eric Alden Smith, and Douglas W. Bird, The Hunting Handicap: Costly Signaling in Human Foraging Strategies (2001)

Anthropology and Gender

28. Sally Slocum, Woman the Gatherer: Male Bias in Anthropology (1975)

29. Eleanor Leacock, Interpreting the Origins of Gender Inequality: Conceptual and Historical Problems (1983)

30. David Valentine, "I Went to Bed with My Own Kind Once”: The Erasure of Desire in the Name of Identity (2003)

Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropology

31. Mary Douglas, External Boundaries (1966)

32. Victor Turner, Symbols in Ndembu Ritual (1967)

33. Clifford Geertz, Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight (1973)

Background to Postmodernism

34. Pierre Bourdieu, Structures, Habitus, Practices (1980)

35. Michel Foucault, The Incitement to Discourse (1976)

Post Modernism and Its Critics

36. Renato Rosaldo, Grief and a Headhunter's Rage (1989)

37. Lila Abu-Lughod, A Tale of Two Pregnancies (1995)

38. Hanson, The Making of the Maori: Cultural Invention and Its Logic (1989)

Globalization, Power, and Agency

39. Arjun Appadurai, Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy (1990)

40. Philippe Bourgois, From Jíbaro to Crack Dealer: Confronting the Restructuring of Capitalism in El Barrio (1995)

41. Theodore Bestor, Kaiten-zushi and Konbini; Japanese Food Culture in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (2006) Bibliography Acknowledgements Index

New to this Edition

New Section on the Background to Postmodernism that exposes students to works critical to understanding current day anthropology and includes readings from Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault.

Four Additional Readings have been added that broaden students’ understanding of the theoretical schools they represent. These readings are:
  • Introduction to Coming of Age in Samoa, by Margaret Mead
  • “I Went to Bed with My Own Kind Once”: The Erasure of Desire in the Name of Identity, by David Valentine
  • The Making of the Maori: Cultural Invention and its Logic, by Allan Hanson
  • Kaiten-zushi and Konbini; Japanese Food Culture in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, by Theodore Bestor

Notes for Key Essays have been thoroughly revised to include the latest information on the subjects and to provide additional background for difficult passages.

Updated Section Introductions include discussions on theorists who have made great contributions, but are not otherwise represented in selections in the text. The discussions include figures such as Jeremy Bentham, A. C. Haddon, James Frazer, Antonio Gramsci, Monica Wilson, Andrew Vayda, Michelle Rosaldo and scores of others whose work has played a major role in anthropological theory.

Revised to Reflect the Latest Scholarship, the index has also been expanded to include more detail making it a stronger research tool.

Retained Features

Unique Format, with introductions and explanatory footnotes by the editors, including definitions of difficult words, translations of foreign words and phrases, explanations of allusions, and a description of the contextual background of each piece.

Clear, Concise Introductions to the various theoretical schools, with editorial commentary pointing at underlying concepts and interrelationships between theoretical perspectives.

Broad Range of Works important in the history of anthropological theory, from 19th century evolutionism to postmodernism in the 1990s, including innovative sections on foundations of sociological thought, sociobiology, postmodernism, and the feminist critique of anthropology.

Extensive Pedagogical Aids, including questions to help readers formulate their own views of theoretical positions, as well as an extensive bibliography and index.

Topics Important to Current Anthropological Thinking conclude the book with a section of readings on issues of agency, power, and globalization.

Essays Chosen with an Emphasis on Anthropological Praxis. The essays are examples of the application of theory rather than statements about theory, showing the concrete expression of theory in anthropological analysis rather than abstract presentation of theory.

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