Perspectives in Cultural Anthropology

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Designed as a reader for courses, this anthology presents an array of theories and interpretations in the field of modern cultural anthropology. It provides a deeper understanding of the major theoretical orientations which have historically guided and currently guide anthropological research.
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About the author

Herbert Applebaum is editor of Work in Non-Market and Transitional Societies and Work in Market and Industrial Societies, both published by SUNY Press. Dr. Applebaum also edits the “Anthropology of Work Review.”

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
614
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ISBN
9780791495162
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Social anthropology is, in the classic definition, dedicated to the study of distant civilizations in their traditional and contemporary forms. But there is a larger aspiration: the comparative study of all human societies in the light of those challengingly unfamiliar beliefs and customs that expose our own ethnocentric limitations and put us in our place within the wider gamut of the world's civilizations. Thematically guided by social setting and cultural expression of identity, Social and Cultural Anthropology in Perspective is a dynamic and highly acclaimed introduction to the field of social anthropology, which also examines its links with cultural anthropology. A challenging new introduction critically surveys the latest trends, pointing to weaknesses as well as strengths.Presented in a clear, lively, and entertaining fashion, this volume offers a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to social anthropology for use by teachers and students. Skillfully weaving together theory and ethnographic data, author Ioan M. Lewis advocates an eclectic approach to anthropology. He combines the strengths of British structural-functionalism with the leading ideas of Marx, Freud, and Levi-Strauss while utilizing the methods of historians, political scientists, and psychologists. One of Lewis' particular concerns is to reveal how insights from ""traditional"" cultures illuminate what we take for granted in contemporary industrial and post-industrial society. He also shows how, in the pluralist world in which we live, those who study ""other"" cultures ultimately learn about themselves. Social anthropology is thus shown to be as relevant today as it has been in the past.
Over the past two decades anthropologists have been challenged to rethink the nature of ethnographic research, the meaning of fieldwork, and the role of ethnographers. Ethnographic fieldwork has cultural, social, and political ramifications that have been much discussed and acted upon, but the training of ethnographers still follows a very traditional pattern; this volume engages and takes its point of departure in the experiences of ethnographers-in-the-making that encourage alternative models for professional training in fieldwork and its intellectual contexts.

The work done by contributors to Fieldwork Is Not What It Used to Be articulates, at the strategic point of career-making research, features of this transformation in progress. Setting aside traditional anxieties about ethnographic authority, the authors revisit fieldwork with fresh initiative. In search of better understandings of the contemporary research process itself, they assess the current terms of the engagement of fieldworkers with their subjects, address the constructive, open-ended forms by which the conclusions of fieldwork might take shape, and offer an accurate and useful description of what it means to become—and to be—an anthropologist today.

Contributors: Lisa Breglia, George Mason University; Jae A. Chung, Aalen University; James D. Faubion, Rice University; Michael M. J. Fischer, MIT; Kim Fortun, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Jennifer A. Hamilton, Hampshire College; Christopher M. Kelty, UCLA; George E. Marcus, University of California, Irvine; Nahal Naficy, Rice University; Kristin Peterson, University of California, Irvine; Deepa S. Reddy, University of Houston-Clear Lake

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How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

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Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

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