Grasping the Changing World: Anthropological Concepts in the Postmodern Era

Grasping the Changing World: Anthropological Concepts in the Postmodern Era

Grasping the Changing World: Anthropological Concepts in the Postmodern Era

Grasping the Changing World: Anthropological Concepts in the Postmodern Era

Synopsis

As various societies increasingly merge into one global society and consequently have to address crises of identity, purpose and interest, so must social anthropology re-examine and update its methodology. Grasping the Changing World concerns itself with European anthropology from an Eastern perspective rather than focusing exclusively on Eastern European anthropology. It offers comparative material analysing social situations in Russia, Indonesia, Britain, Central Europe, Southern Africa and the Arctic as a means to determine the success or failure of the same concepts in the understanding of present Central Europe.

Excerpt

This volume comprises papers from two panels of the Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropology (EASA) held in Prague in 1992. the panel convened by Václav Hubinger considered the topic ‘The Making of the Past’, and was concerned with the crucial role the past plays in the formation of the present. the panel convened by Peter Skalník, entitled ‘Dealing with Unbounded Wholes’, investigated the pressing need for the development of new concepts, or reconsideration of existing concepts to allow for analysis of a general notion of society rather than the study of individual societies considered as independent and self-contained units.

The outcome seemed to be that the specific concerns of each panel were basically the same: nation-building, tradition and culture; the differences lying only in the emphasis or angle taken by each panel. However, the initial plan was to publish the papers from each panel in separate volumes. This very quickly proved not to be the best approach, and a decision was taken to publish the papers in a single volume, a decision which has contributed to the considerable delay in the publication of these papers. the delay in publication has been fruitful in several respects.

Some of the papers read at the panel are missing from this volume: Valery A. Tishkov’s contribution on ethnic conflicts and social science theory; Teresa del Valle has published her paper as part of her book Korrika: Basque Ritual for Ethnic Identity (Reno, Nev.: University of Nevada Press, 1993). the papers by Françoise Zonabend (‘Anthro-pologie et modernité’) and Peter Skalník (‘Dealing with unbounded wholes’) are also not included in this volume. Peter Skalník also decided to step down as co-editor due to his enormous workload. However, his contribution to the preparatory work has been important and I am very grateful to him for his assistance and friendly advice.

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