This is a book of some sixty essays each of which deals with an important term in the toolbox of contemporary anthropological studies. The aim is to provide a concise repository of explanatory statements covering a number of the major concepts that professional anthropologists might use.
‘Explanation’ here includes argumentation concerning the diversity of ways in which anthropologists have understood the key concepts of their discipline and the way these have changed over time and might be expected to change in future. The volume is both overview and polemic, intended as a study guide as well as a research tool for original writing.
The ‘cultural anthropological’ tradition originating in North America and the ‘social anthropological’ tradition of Europe are combined in the book, reflecting the growing similarity of what is taught in university courses around the world.
Key Concepts would write anthropology into a changing environment of academic disciplines—their changing interrelations, methodologies and epistemologies—in the light of the current (‘post-modern’, ‘reflexive’) blurring of generic divisions and challenge to established verities. The volume draws on a range of disciplinary sources (including philosophy, psychology, sociology, cultural studies, literary criticism and linguistics), so situating anthropology within a broadly conceived notion of the humanities.
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A book of key anthropological concepts is something of a departure. There are a number of introductions to anthropology (Social Anthropology (Leach 1982), Other Cultures (Beattie 1964)), also dictionaries (The Dictionary of Anthropology (Barfield 1997), Macmillan Dictionary of