Academic journal article Anthropological Quarterly

History, Power, Ideology: Central Issues in Marxism and Anthropology, 2d Ed

Academic journal article Anthropological Quarterly

History, Power, Ideology: Central Issues in Marxism and Anthropology, 2d Ed

Article excerpt

History, Power, Ideology: Central Issues in Marxism and Anthropology, 2d ed. DONALD L. DONHAM. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999; 240 pp.

The new edition of Donham's History, Power, Ideology should find a large audience among anthropologists and particularly those interested in economics and theory. The text is largely unchanged from the original edition. The author uses a new preface to reintroduce his work (and particularly his interest in structural models) and place it in the changing interests field.

Donham has two goals. The first is to use Marxist theory (and particularly models of production and class divisions) to probe power relations among the Maale. (The Maale live in southern Ethiopia and had a kingdom largely autonomous of the external world until 1975.) The second, and more ambitious, goal is to employ data from ethnographic research among the Maale to illuminate, critique, and refine Marxist theory. The point is not simply to apply Marxism to the kin based logic of Maale social formations, or to use Maale social practices to talk about Marxism's shortcomings when applied to noncapitalist situations. Rather, Donham tacks between theory and history (Maale and Marxist) to bridge the gaps between structure and agency as well as symbol and meaning to define Maale social formations, to advance social theory, but also to answer fundamental questions about human social life.

The new preface frames his work in anthropology of the late twentieth century. Important is his discussion of structure and history. He points out that interest in structural models has faded over the last decades to be replaced by historical explanations. …

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