Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives

Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives

Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives

Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives

Synopsis

The contributors to this book focus on the relationship between nature and society from a variety of theoretical and ethnographic perspectives. Their work draws upon recent developments in social theory, biology, ethnobiology, epistemology, and sociology of scienceand includes ethnographic case studies from:* Amazonia* the Solomon Islands* Malaysia* the Mollucan Islands* rural comunities from Japan and north-west Europe* urban Greece* laboratories of molecular biology* high-energy physicsThe discussion is divided into three parts, emphasizing the problems posed by the nature-culture dualism, some misguided attempts to respond to these problems, and potential avenues out of the current dilemmas of ecological discourse.

Excerpt

This book focuses on the nature-society interface in anthropology and several ethnographic contexts. The articles are revised versions of papers that were presented at the Third Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists in Oslo in June 1994. In her opening address to the Oslo conference, Signe Howell remarked that the organisers had been taken by surprise and that the abstracts submitted, as well as suggestions for themes for workshop discussion, indicated rather unexpected developments; not only had some of the 'established' themes offered by the organisers received little or no response from prospective participants, but some themes generally considered either emptied or outmoded in recent years-including those of ecology and kinship-turned out to be embraced with renewed enthusiasm. Thus, no less than three full sessions focused on nature and the environment. This book gathers together a selection of the papers that were presented in these sessions. The renewed interest in ecological issues which the Oslo conference and this volume reflect is somewhat unanticipated, given the hegemony of textualist theorising in recent years. Apparently, however, nature and the environment refuse to leave the agenda for good, re-emerging this time with more vigour than before. This suggests that the time is ripe for revisiting ecological anthropology on new theoretical terms. After all, a new millennium is almost here, a millennium which no doubt will pose massive environmental problems for humans.

We would like to thank the participants in the sessions we organised at the Oslo conference for their contributions to the lively discussions that took place, in particular the authors of the papers that were presented. Thanks are also due to Stephen Gudeman, who acted as a discussant in one of the sessions, and Agnar Helgason, who helped to prepare the final manuscript. Finally, we are grateful to Roger Goodman for his valuable editorial advice.

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