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Easter Island's Silent Sentinels by Kenneth Treister; Patricia Vargas Casanova; Claudio Cristino; Daniel Libeskind (Foreword by)It may be the most interesting and yet loneliest spot on earth: a volcanic rock surrounded by a million square miles of ocean, named for the day Dutch explorers discovered it, Easter Sunday, April 5, 1722. Here people created a complex society, sophisticated astronomy, exquisite wood sculpture, monumental stone architecture, roads, and a puzzling ideographic script. And then they went about sculpting amazing, giant human figures in stone. This richly illustrated book of the history, culture, and art of Easter Island is the first to examine in detail the island's vernacular architecture, often overshadowed by its giant stone statues. It shows the conjecturally reconstructed prehistoric pole houses; the ahu, the sculptures' platform, as a spectacular expression of prehistoric megalithic architecture; and the Easter Island Statue Project's inventory of the colossal moai sculptures. This publication is made possible in part by a generous contribution from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.
America Latina by Luis Camnitzer; Olivier Compagnon; Alfonso Morales (Text by)Distributed on behalf of the Fondation Cartier, Paris Bringing together more than seventy artists from eleven different countries, América Latina 1960– 2013 shows great diversity in photographic practices by presenting the work of Latin American photographers from the 1960s to today who appropriate the medium in different ways. This unique presentation will provide the reader with the opportunity to delve into the history of the continent and to rediscover the works of major artists rarely exhibited in Europe. The exhibition América Latina will cover the period from 1960—the year following the Cuban revolution—to today. In many Latin American countries, this period has been marked by political and economic instability, and has seen a succession of revolutionary movements and repressive military regimes, the emergence of guerrilla movements, as well as transitions toward democracy. During the era covered by the exhibition, many Latin American artists increasingly sought to escape media specificity by bringing texts and photographic images together in their work. Including over 400 black-and-white and color reproductions, this accompanying catalog explores the wealth of photographic work while shedding light on the historical and artistic context that spawned it. In addition to scholarly texts and artist bios, descriptions of works and a detailed timeline provide a deeper understanding of the visual languages specific to the continent.
Advances in Membership Categorisation Analysis by William Housley; Richard FitzgeraldThis is an exciting addition to the dynamic, multidisciplinary field of membership categorization analysis. Bringing together the biggest names in MCA this landmark publication provides a contemporary analysis of the field and a platform for emerging researchers and students to build upon. The book sets out the current methodological developments of MCA highlighting its analytic strength - particularly when examining social identity and social knowledge. It provides a sophisticated tool of qualitative analysis and draws from a wide range of empirical studies provided by global scholars. The culmination of years of international research this agenda-setting text will be essential reading for academics and advanced students using membership categorization across the social sciences; particularly in media and communication studies, sociology, psychology, education, political science and linguistics.
The Remembered Land by Jim Leary; Richard Hodges (Contribution by)How did small-scale societies in the past experience and respond to sea-level rise? What happened when their dwellings, hunting grounds and ancestral lands were lost under an advancing tide? This book asks these questions in relation to the hunter-gatherer inhabitants of a lost prehistoric land; a land that became entirely inundated and now lies beneath the North Sea. It seeks to understand how these people viewed and responded to their changing environment, suggesting that people were not struggling against nature, but simply getting on with life - with all its trials and hardships, satisfactions and pleasures, and with a multitude of choices available. At the same time, this loss of land - the loss of places and familiar locales where myths were created and identities formed - would have profoundly affected people's sense of being. This book moves beyond the static approach normally applied to environmental change in the past to capture its nuances. Through this, a richer and more complex story of past sea-level rise develops; a story that may just have resonance for us today.
The Ecology of Pastoralism by P. Nick KarduliasIn The Ecology of Pastoralism, diverse contributions from archaeologists and ethnographers address pastoralism's significant impact on humanity's basic subsistence and survival, focusing on the network of social, political, and religious institutions existing within various societies dependent on animal husbandry. Pastoral peoples, both past and present, have organized their relationships with certain animals to maximize their ability to survive and adapt to a wide range of conditions over time. Contributors show that despite differences in landscape, environment, and administrative and political structures, these societies share a major characteristic--high flexibility. Based partially on the adaptability of various domestic animals to difficult environments and partially on the ability of people to establish networks allowing them to accommodate political, social, and economic needs, this flexibility is key to the survival of complex pastoral systems and serves as the connection among the varied cultures in the volume. In The Ecology of Pastoralism, a variety of case studies from a broad geographic sampling uses archaeological and contemporary data and offers a new perspective on the study of pastoralism, making this volume a valuable contribution to current research in the area.
Ritual Retellings by Isabell HerrmanBelianis an exceptionally lively tradition of shamanistic curing rituals performed by the Luangans, a politically marginalized population of Indonesian Borneo. This volume explores the significance of these rituals in practice and asks what belian rituals do - socially, politically, and existentially - for particular people in particular circumstances. Departing from the conception that rituals exist as ethereal, liminal or insulated traditional domains, this volume demonstrates the importance of understanding rituals as emergent within their specific historical and social settings. It offers an analysis of a number of concrete ritual performances, exemplifying a diversity of ritual genres, stylistic modalities and sensual ambiences, from low-key, habitual affairs to drawn-out, crowd-seizing community rituals and innovative, montage-like cultural experiments.
Killer Apes, Naked Apes, and Just Plain Nasty People by Richard J. PerryWe like to think that science always illuminates. But the disturbing persistence of the concept of biological determinism-the false idea that human behavior is genetically fixed or inherently programmed and therefore is not susceptible to rapid change-shows that scientific research and concepts can be distorted to advance an inhumane and sometimes deadly political agenda. It was biological determinism that formed the basis of the theory of eugenics, which in turn led to the forced sterilization of "misfits" and the creation of Nazi death camps. In Killer Apes, Naked Apes, and Just Plain Nasty People, anthropologist Richard J. Perry delivers a scathing critique of determinism. Exploring the historical context and enduring popularity of the movement over the past century and a half, he debunks the facile and the reductionist thinking of so many popularizers of biological determinism while considering why biological explanations have resonated in ways that serve to justify deeply conservative points of view. Moving through time, from the prevalence of overt racism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to "human nature" arguments, from the rise of sociobiology in the 1970s to the current fixation on evolutionary psychology, the book argues that both history and cross-cultural studies amply demonstrate the human capacity for growth and self-determination. Clearly written, conversational, and rationally argued, this book promotes sound and careful research while skewering the bogus ideological assertions that have been used to justify colonialism, slavery, gender discrimination, neoliberal economic policies, and the general status quo.
The Political Machine by Adam T. SmithThe Political Machine investigates the essential role that material culture plays in the practices and maintenance of political sovereignty. Through an archaeological exploration of the Bronze Age Caucasus, Adam Smith demonstrates that beyond assemblies of people, polities are just as importantly assemblages of things--from ballots and bullets to crowns, regalia, and licenses. Smith looks at the ways that these assemblages help to forge cohesive publics, separate sovereigns from a wider social mass, and formalize governance--and he considers how these developments continue to shape politics today. Smith shows that the formation of polities is as much about the process of manufacturing assemblages as it is about disciplining subjects, and that these material objects or "machines" sustain communities, orders, and institutions. The sensibilities, senses, and sentiments connecting people to things enabled political authority during the Bronze Age and fortify political power even in the contemporary world. Smith provides a detailed account of the transformation of communities in the Caucasus, from small-scale early Bronze Age villages committed to egalitarianism, to Late Bronze Age polities predicated on radical inequality, organized violence, and a centralized apparatus of rule. From Bronze Age traditions of mortuary ritual and divination to current controversies over flag pins and Predator drones, The Political Machine sheds new light on how material goods authorize and defend political order.
The Dialogic Nation of Cape Verde by Márcia RegoThe Dialogic Nation of Cape Verde: Slavery, Language, and Ideology is an ethnographic study of language use and ideology in Cape Verde, from its early settlement as a center for slave trade, to the postcolonial present. The study is methodologically rich and innovative in that it weaves together historical, linguistic, and ethnographic data from different eras with sketches of contemporary life a homicide trial, a scholarly meeting, a competition for a new national flag, a heterodox Catholic mass, an analysis of love letters, a priest s sermon, and a death in the neighborhood. In all these different contexts, Marcia Rego focuses on the role of Kriolu (the Cape Verdean Creole) and its relation to Portuguese that is, on the way people live through speaking. The Dialogic Nation of Cape Verde shows how, through the dialogic give-and-take of the two languages, Cape Verdeans wrestle with deep-seated colonial hierarchies, invent and rehearse new traditions, and articulate their identity as a sovereign, creole nation."
Contemporary Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe by Kathryn Rountree (Editor)Pagan and Native Faith movements have sprung up across Europe in recent decades, yet little has been published about them compared with their British and American counterparts. Though all such movements valorize human relationships with nature and embrace polytheistic cosmologies, practitioners' beliefs, practices, goals, and agendas are diverse. Often side by side are groups trying to reconstruct ancient religions motivated by ethnonationalism-especially in post-Soviet societies-and others attracted by imported traditions, such as Wicca, Druidry, Goddess Spirituality, and Core Shamanism. Drawing on ethnographic cases, contributors explore the interplay of neo-nationalistic and neo-colonialist impulses in contemporary Paganism, showing how these impulses play out, intersect, collide, and transform.
Built with Faith by Joseph SciorraOver the course of 130 years, Italian American Catholics in New York City have developed a varied repertoire of devotional art and architecture to create community-based sacred spaces in their homes and neighborhoods. These spaces exist outside of but in relationship to the consecrated halls of local parishes and are sites of worship in conventionally secular locations. Such ethnic building traditions and urban ethnic landscapes have long been neglected by all but a few scholars. Joseph Sciorra's Built with Faith offers a place-centric, ethnographic study of the religious material culture of New York City's Italian American Catholics. Sciorra spent thirty-five years researching these community art forms and interviewing Italian immigrant and U.S.-born Catholics. By documenting the folklife of this group, Sciorra reveals how Italian Americans in the city use expressive culture and religious practices to transform everyday urban space into unique, communal sites of ethnically infused religiosity. The folk aesthetics practiced by individuals within their communities are integral to understanding how art is conceptualized, implemented, and esteemed outside of museum and gallery walls. Yard shrines, sidewalk altars, Nativity presepi, Christmas house displays, a stone-studded grotto, and neighborhood processions--often dismissed as kitsch or prized as folk art--all provide examples of the vibrant and varied ways contemporary Italian Americans use material culture, architecture, and public ceremonial display to shape the city's religious and cultural landscapes. Written in an accessible style that will appeal to general readers and scholars alike, Sciorra's unique study contributes to our understanding of how value and meaning are reproduced at the confluences of everyday life. Joseph Sciorra is the director of Academic and Cultural Programs at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College. He is the editor of Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives and co-editor of Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women's Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora.
Archaeology of Resistance by Alfredo González-RuibalAn Archaeology of Resistance: Materiality and Time in an African Borderland studies the tactics of resistance deployed by a variety of indigenous communities in the borderland between Sudan and Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa is an early area of state formation and at the same time the home of many egalitarian, small scale societies, which have lived in the buffer zone between states for the last three thousand years. For this reason, resistance is not something added to their sociopolitical structures: it is an inherent part of those structures a mode of being. The main objective of the work is to understand the diverse forms of resistance that characterizes the borderland groups, with an emphasis on two essentially archaeological themes, materiality and time, by combining archaeological, political and social theory, ethnographic methods and historical data to examine different processes of resistance in the long term."
New Books - October
Center Places and Cherokee Towns by Christopher B. RodningIn Center Places and Cherokee Towns, Christopher B. Rodning opens a panoramic vista onto protohistoric Cherokee culture. He posits that Cherokee households and towns were anchored within their cultural and natural landscapes by built features that acted as center places.” Rodning investigates the period from just before the first Spanish contact with sixteenth-century Native American chiefdoms in La Florida through the development of formal trade relations between Native American societies and English and French colonial provinces in the American South during the late 1600s and 1700s. Rodning focuses particularly on the Coweeta Creek archaeological site in the upper Little Tennessee Valley in southwestern North Carolina and describes the ways in which elements of the built environment were manifestations of Cherokee senses of place. Drawing on archaeological data, delving into primary documentary sources dating from the eighteenth century, and considering Cherokee myths and legends remembered and recorded during the nineteenth century, Rodning shows how the arrangement of public structures and household dwellings in Cherokee towns both shaped and were shaped by Cherokee culture. Center places at different scales served as points of attachment between Cherokee individuals and their communities as well as between their present and past. Rodning explores the ways in which Cherokee architecture and the built environment were sources of cultural stability in the aftermath of European contact, and how the course of European contact altered the landscape of Cherokee towns in the long run. In this multi-faceted consideration of archaeology, ethnohistory, and recorded oral tradition, Rodning adeptly demonstrates the distinct ways that Cherokee identity was constructed through architecture and other material forms. Center Places and Cherokee Towns will have a broad appeal to students and scholars of southeastern archaeology, anthropology, Native American studies, prehistoric and protohistoric Cherokee culture, landscape archaeology, and ethnohistory.
Neutral Accent by A. AneeshIn Neutral Accent, A. Aneesh employs India's call centers as useful sites for studying global change. The horizon of global economic shift, the consequences of global integration, and the ways in which call center work "neutralizes" racial, ethnic, and national identities become visible from the confines of their cubicles. In his interviews with call service workers and in his own work in a call center in the high tech metropolis of Gurgoan, India, Aneesh observed the difficulties these workers face in bridging cultures, laws, and economies: having to speak in an accent that does not betray their ethnicity, location, or social background; learning foreign social norms; and working graveyard shifts to accommodate international customers. Call center work is cast as independent of place, space, and time, and its neutrality--which Aneesh defines as indifference to difference--has become normal business practice in a global economy. The work of call center employees in the globally integrated marketplace comes at a cost, however, as they become disconnected from the local interactions and personal relationships that make their lives anything but neutral.
Poverty and the Quest for Life by Bhrigupati SinghThe Indian subdistrict of Shahabad, located in the dwindling forests of the southeastern tip of Rajasthan, is an area of extreme poverty. Beset by droughts and food shortages in recent years, it is the home of the Sahariyas, former bonded laborers, officially classified as Rajasthan’s only "primitive tribe.” From afar, we might consider this the bleakest of the bleak, but in Poverty and the Quest for Life, Bhrigupati Singh asks us to reconsider just what quality of life means. He shows how the Sahariyas conceive of aspiration, advancement, and vitality in both material and spiritual terms, and how such bridging can engender new possibilities of life. Singh organizes his study around two themes: power and ethics, through which he explores a complex terrain of material and spiritual forces. Authority remains contested, whether in divine or human forms; the state is both despised and desired; high and low castes negotiate new ways of living together, in conflict but also cooperation; new gods move across rival social groups; animals and plants leave their tracks on human subjectivity and religiosity; and the potential for vitality persists even as natural resources steadily disappear. Studying this milieu, Singh offers new ways of thinking beyond the religion-secularism and nature-culture dichotomies, juxtaposing questions about quality of life with political theologies of sovereignty, neighborliness, and ethics, in the process painting a rich portrait of perseverance and fragility in contemporary rural India.
Religion and Community in the New Urban America by Paul D. Numrich; Elfriede WedamReligion and Community in the New Urban America examines the interrelated transformations of cities and urban congregations. The authors ask how the new metropolis affects local religious communities and what role those communities play in creating the new metropolis. Through an in-depth studyof fifteen Chicago congregations - Catholic parishes, Protestant churches, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, and a Hindu temple, both city and suburban - this book describes congregational life and measures congregational influences on urban environments. Paul D. Numrich and Elfriede Wedam challenge the view held by many urban studies scholars that religion plays a small role - if any - in shaping postindustrial cities and that religious communities merely adapt to urban structures in a passive fashion. Taking into account the spatial distribution ofconstituents, internal traits, and external actions, each congregation's urban impact is plotted on a continuum of weak, to moderate, to strong, thus providing a nuanced understanding of the significance of religion in the contemporary urban context. Presenting a thoughtful analysis that includesmaps of each congregation in its social-geographic setting, the authors offer an insightful look into urban community life today, from congregations to the places in which they are embedded.
Cultural Techniques by Bernhard Siegert; Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (Translator)In a crucial shift within posthumanistic media studies, Bernhard Siegert dissolves the concept of media into a network of operations that reproduce, displace, process, and reflect the distinctions fundamental for a given culture. Cultural Techniques aims to forget our traditional understanding of media so as to redefine the concept through something more fundamental than the empiricist study of a medium's individual or collective uses or of its cultural semantics or aesthetics. Rather, Siegert seeks to relocate media and culture on a level where the distinctions between object and performance, matter and form, human and nonhuman, sign and channel, the symbolic and the real are still in the process of becoming. The result is to turn ontology into a domain of all that is meant in German by the word Kultur. Cultural techniques comprise not only self-referential symbolic practices like reading, writing, counting, or image-making. The analysis of artifacts as cultural techniques emphasizes their ontological status as "in-betweens," shifting from firstorder to second-order techniques, from the technical to the artistic, from object to sign, from the natural to the cultural, from the operational to the representational. Cultural Techniques ranges from seafaring, drafting, and eating to the production of the sign-signaldistinction in old and new media, to the reproduction of anthropological difference, to the study of trompe-l'oeils, grids, registers, and doors. Throughout, Siegert addresses fundamental questions of how ontological distinctions can be replaced by chains of operations that process those alleged ontological distinctions within the ontic. Grounding posthumanist theory both historically and technically, this book opens up a crucial dialogue between new German media theory and American postcybernetic discourses.
Public Anthropology in a Borderless World by Sam Beck (Editor); Carl A. Maida (Editor)Anthropologists have acted as experts and educators on the nature and ways of life of people worldwide, working to understand the human condition in broad comparative perspective. As a discipline, anthropology has often advocated - and even defended - the cultural integrity, authenticity, and autonomy of societies across the globe. Public anthropology today carries out the discipline's original purpose, grounding theories in lived experience and placing empirical knowledge in deeper historical and comparative frameworks. This is a vitally important kind of anthropology that has the goal of improving the modern human condition by actively engaging with people to make changes through research, education, and political action.
Ancient Zapotec Religion by Michael LindAncient Zapotec Religion is the first comprehensive study of Zapotec religion as it existed in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca on the eve of the Spanish Conquest. Author Michael Lind brings a new perspective, focusing not on underlying theological principles but on the material and spatial expressions of religious practice. Using sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish colonial documents and archaeological findings related to the time period leading up to the Spanish Conquest, he presents new information on deities, ancestor worship and sacred bundles, the Zapotec cosmos, the priesthood, religious ceremonies and rituals, the nature of temples, the distinctive features of the sacred and solar calendars, and the religious significance of the murals of Mitla--the most sacred and holy center. He also shows how Zapotec religion served to integrate Zapotec city-state structure throughout the valley of Oaxaca, neighboring mountain regions, and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Ancient Zapotec Religion is the first in-depth and interdisciplinary book on the Zapotecs and their religious practices and will be of great interest to archaeologists, epigraphers, historians, and specialists in Native American, Latin American, and religious studies.
American Heathens by Jennifer SnookAmerican Heathens is the first in-depth ethnographic study about the largely misunderstood practice of American Heathenry (Germanic Paganism). Jennifer Snook--who has been Pagan since her early teens and a Heathen since eighteen--traces the development and trajectory of Heathenry as a new religious movement in America, one in which all identities are political and all politics matter. Snook explores the complexities of pagan reconstruction and racial, ethnic and gender identity in today's divisive political climate. She considers the impact of social media on Heathen collectivities, and offers a glimpse of the world of Heathen meanings, rituals, and philosophy. In American Heathens, Snook presents the stories and perspectives of modern practitioners in engaging detail. She treats Heathens as members of a religious movement, rather than simply a subculture reenacting myths and stories of enchantment. Her book shrewdly addresses how people construct ethnicity in a reconstructionist (historically-minded) faith system with no central authority.
Living Ideology in Cuba by Katherine A. GordyIn Living Ideology in Cuba, Katherine Gordy demonstrates how the Cuban state and its people engage in an ongoing negotiation that produces a "living ideology." In contrast to official slogans and fiats, Cuba's living ideology is a decentralized phenomenon, continually adapting, informing, and responding to daily life, without losing sight of the fundamental national principles of socioeconomic equality, unified leadership, and inclusive nationalism. Tracing Cuba's ideological history, Gordy first looks at the ways in which the 19th century wars of independence and the 1959 revolution were used as the basis for both challenging and legitimizing Cuban socialism. Following the embrace of a pure socialist ideology in the 1960s, state policies of the 1970s became more accommodating of market imperatives, while still holding on to the principles articulated by Che Guevara and Karl Marx. In the 1990s, the Cuban people themselves pushed back against further economic reforms, reasserting the value of socioeconomic equality. Gordy also examines ideological debates among intellectuals, from the controversy sparked by Fidel Castro's "Words to the Intellectuals" speech to the demand in the 1990s for a separation between academia and the state--not to safeguard academia from politics, but to ensure that academics as such could contribute to the political dialogue.
New Desires, New Selves by Gul OzyeginAs Turkey pushes for its place in the global pecking order and embraces neoliberal capitalism, the nation has seen a period of unprecedented shifts in political, religious, and gender and sexual identities for its citizens. In New Desires, New Selves, Gul Ozyegin shows how this social transformation in Turkey is felt most strongly among its young people, eager to surrender to the seduction of sexual modernity, but also longing to remain attached to traditional social relations, identities and histories. Engaging a wide array of upwardly-mobile young adults at a major Turkish university, Ozyegin links the biographies of individuals with the biography of a nation, revealing their creation of conflicted identities in a country which has existed uneasily between West and East, modern and traditional, and secular and Islamic. For these young people, sexuality, gender expression, and intimate relationships in particular serve as key sites for reproducing and challenging patriarchy and paternalism that was hallmark of earlier generations. As Ozyegin evocatively shows, the quest for sexual freedom and an escape from patriarchal constructions of selfless femininity and protective masculinity promise both personal transformations and profound sexual guilt and anxiety. A poignant and original study, New Desires, New Selves presents a snapshot of cultural change on the eve of rapid globalization in the Muslim world.
Cultures of Mediatization by Andreas Hepp<p>What does it mean that we can be reached on our mobile phones wherever we are and at all times? What are the cultural consequences if we are informed about everything and anything important via television? How are our political, religious and ethnic belongings impacted through being increasingly connected by digital media? And what is the significance of all this for our everyday lives?</p> <p>Drawing on Hepp s fifteen-year research expertise on media change, this book deals with questions like these in a refreshingly straightforward and readable way. Cultures of mediatization are described as cultures whose main resources are mediated by technical media. Therefore, everyday life in cultures of mediatization is moulded by the media.</p> <p>To understand this challenging media change it is inappropriate to focus on any one single medium like television, the press, mobile phones, the Internet or other forms of digital media. One has to capture the mediatization of culture in its entirety. <i>Cultures of Mediatization</i> outlines how this can be done critically. In so doing, it offers a new way of thinking about our present-day media-saturated world.</p>
Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets by Roman SielerLethal Spots, Vital Secrets provides an ethnographic study of varmakkalai, or "the art of the vital spots," a South Indian esoteric tradition that combines medical practice and martial arts. Although siddha medicine is officially part of the Indian Government's medically pluralistichealth-care system, very little of a reliable nature has been written about it. Drawing on a diverse array of materials, including Tamil manuscripts, interviews with practitioners, and his own personal experience as an apprentice, Sieler traces the practices of varmakkalai both in different religious traditions - such as Yoga and Ayurveda - and within various combat practices.His argument is based on in-depth ethnographic research in the southernmost region of India, where hereditary medico-martial practitioners learn their occupation from relatives or skilled gurus through an esoteric, spiritual education system. Rituals of secrecy and apprenticeship in varmakkalai areamong the important focal points of Sieler's study. Practitioners protect their esoteric knowledge, but they also engage in a kind of "lure and withdrawal" - a performance of secrecy - because secrecy functions as what might be called "symbolic capital." Sieler argues that varmakkalai is, above all,a matter of texts in practice; knowledge transmission between teacher and student conveys tacit, non-verbal knowledge, and constitutes a "moral economy." It is not merely plain facts that are communicated, but also moral obligations, ethical conduct and tacit, bodily knowledge.Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets is an insightful analysis of practices rarely discussed in scholarly circles. It will be a valuable resource to students of religion, medical anthropologists, historians of medicine, Indologists, and martial arts and performance studies.
New Books - October
The Stonehenge Landscape by Mark Bowden; Sharon Soutar; David Field; Martyn BarberStonehenge is arguably the greatest prehistoric monument in western Europe; as a World Heritage Site it ranks in significance with such sites as the Acropolis of Athens, the Pyramids of Giza, Great Zimbabwe and Machu Picchu. Stonehenge sits at the heart of a landscape rich in other monuments and remains of the Neolithic period and Bronze Age that are also part of the World Heritage Site. Recent research by English Heritage’s landscape archaeologists within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site has led to the identification of previously unknown sites and, perhaps even more importantly, the re-interpretation of known sites, including Stonehenge itself. This work has been carried out alongside recent and on-going independent research initiatives conducted by a number of academic institutions, involving international co-operation. This book presents the most significant findings of the English Heritage research and shows how it integrates with the results of work undertaken by colleagues in other research bodies. It traces human influence on the landscape from prehistoric times to the very recent past and presents an up-to-date synthesis of the results of recent fieldwork. It will be of value to anyone interested in Stonehenge itself, in megalithic monuments, in the Neolithic period and Bronze Age of Europe and in the historic evolution of chalkland landscapes.
Death Embodied by Zoë L. Devlin (Editor); Emma-Jayne Graham (Editor)In April 1485, a marble sarcophagus was found on the outskirts of Rome. It contained the remains of a young Roman woman so well-preserved that she appeared to have only just died and the sarcophagus was placed on public view, attracting great crowds. Such a find reminds us of the power of the dead body to evoke in the minds of living people, be they contemporary (survivors or mourners) or distanced from the remains by time, a range of emotions and physical responses, ranging from fascination to fear, and from curiosity to disgust. Archaeological interpretations of burial remains can often suggest that the skeletons which we uncover, and therefore usually associate with past funerary practices, were what was actually deposited in graves, rather than articulated corpses. The choices made by past communities or individuals about how to cope with a dead body in all of its dynamic and constituent forms, and whether there was reason to treat it in a manner that singled it out (positively or negatively) as different from other human corpses, provide the stimulus for this volume. The nine papers provide a series of theoretically informed, but not constrained, case studies which focus predominantly on the corporeal body in death. The aims are to take account of the active presence of dynamic material bodies at the heart of funerary events and to explore the questions that might be asked about their treatment; to explore ways of putting fleshed bodies back into our discussions of burials and mortuary treatment, as well as interpreting the meaning of these activities in relation to the bodies of both deceased and survivors; and to combine the insights that body-centered analysis can produce to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the role of the body, living and dead, in past cultures.
Household Studies in Complex Societies by The Oriental Institute of the Unversity of Chicago (Compiled by); Miriam Muller (Editor)The volume is the result of the Ninth Annual University of Chicago Oriental Institute PostDoc Seminar, held on March 16-17, 2013. Twenty scholars specialized in the Old and New World from all over Europe and the US came together to find new approaches in the study of households in complex societies. The papers in this volume present case studies from the Near East, Egypt and Nubia, the Classical World, and Mesoamerica, including three comparative responses from the perspective of the different disciplines. By combining the archaeology record, scientific data and written documents the papers examine and contextualize different approaches and techniques in uncovering household behavior from the material record and discuss their suitability for the respective region and site. Building on the methodological groundwork laid out in a number of recent publications on household archaeology the volume contributes to the methodological and theoretical discussion, expands on the topics of society, identity, and ethnicity in household studies and opens up new avenues of research such as the perception of space in this innovative field. At the same time the papers reveal problems and disparities with which household archaeology is still struggling. It is hoped that the variety of case studies presented in this volume will further inspire the interested reader to establish new research agendas and excavation strategies that contribute to the development of the field in the various regions covered in the different papers and beyond.
Publication Date: 2015-05-08
Practically Joking by Moira MarshIn Practically Joking, the first full-length study of the practical joke, Moira Marsh examines the value, artistry, and social significance of this ancient and pervasive form of vernacular expression. Though they are sometimes dismissed as the lowest form of humor, practical jokes come from a lively tradition of expressive play. They can reveal both sophistication and intellectual satisfaction, with the best demanding significant skill and talent not only to conceive but also to execute. Practically Joking establishes the practical joke as a folk art form subject to critical evaluation by both practitioners and audiences, operating under the guidance of local aesthetic and ethical canons. Marsh studies the range of genres that pranks comprise; offers a theoretical look at the reception of practical jokes based on "benign transgression"--a theory that sees humor as playful violation--and uses real-life examples of practical jokes in context to establish the form's varieties and meanings as an independent genre, as well as its inextricable relationship with a range of folklore forms. Scholars of folklore, humor, and popular culture will find much of interest in Practically Joking.
Maya Forest Garden by Anabel Ford; Ronald NighThe conventional wisdom says that the devolution of Classic Maya civilization occurred because its population grew too large and dense to be supported by primitive neotropical farming methods, resulting in debilitating famines and internecine struggles. Using research on contemporary Maya farming techniques and important new archaeological research, Ford and Nigh refute this Malthusian explanation of events in ancient Central America and posit a radical alternative theory. The authors show that ancient Maya farmers developed ingenious, sustainable woodland techniques to cultivate numerous food plants (including the staple maize); examine both contemporary tropical farming techniques and the archaeological record (particularly regarding climate) to reach their conclusions; make the argument that these ancient techniques, still in use today, can support significant populations over long periods of time.
Food Culture, Consumption and Society by Paolo CorvoThis book analyses how consumer food choices have undergone profound changes in the context of the economic crisis, including the rediscovery of local products and the diffusion of multi-ethnic food. Corvo argues that a new ecological relationship between food and the environment is needed to reduce food problems such as food waste and obesity.
Calling the Shots by Jane LydonHistorically, photographs of Indigenous Australians were often produced under unequal and exploitative circumstances. Today, however, such images represent a rich cultural heritage for descendants who can use this archive to explore Aboriginal history, to identify relatives, and to reclaim culture. In Calling the Shots, contributors investigate the Indigenous significance of engaging with images from each of the former colonies. The result is a fresh perspective on Australia's past, and on present-day Indigenous identities. Rather than telling us what the white photographer saw, this book focuses upon the interactions between photographer and Indigenous people and the living meanings the photos have today.
The House of Commons by Emma CreweThe House of Commons is one of Britain's mysterious institutions: constantly in the news yet always opaque. In this ground-breaking anthropological study of the world's most famous parliament, Emma Crewe reveals the hidden mechanisms of parliamentary democracy. Examining the work of Members of Parliament ? including neglected areas such as constituencies and committees ? this book provides unique insights into the actual lives and working relationships of parliamentarians. 'Why do the public loathe politicians but often love their own MP?' the author asks. The antagonistic façade of politics irritates the public who tend to be unaware that, backstage, democracy relies on MPs consulting, compromising and cooperating across political parties far more than is publicly admitted. As the book shows, this is only one of myriad contradictions in the labyrinths of power. Based on unprecedented access and two years of interviews and research in the Palace of Westminster and MPs' constituencies, The House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs at Work challenges the existing scholarship on political institutions and party politics. Moving beyond the narrow confines of rational choice theory and new institutionalism, Emma Crewe presents a radical alternative to the study of British politics by demonstrating that all of its processes hinge on culture, ritual and social relations. A must-read for anyone interested in political anthropology, politics, or the Westminster model.
Ukrainian Otherlands by Natalia Khanenko-FriesenUkrainian Otherlands is an innovative exploration of modern ethnic identity, focused on diaspora/homeland understandings of each other in Ukraine and in Ukrainian ethnic communities around the globe. Exploring a rich array of folk songs, poetry and stories, trans-Atlantic correspondence, family histories, and rituals of homecoming and hosting that developed in the Ukrainian diaspora and Ukraine during the twentieth century, Natalia Khanenko-Friesen asserts that many important aspects of modern ethnic identity form, develop, and reveal themselves not only through the diaspora’s continued yearning for the homeland, but also in a homeland’s deeply felt connection to its diaspora. Yet, she finds each group imagines the "otherland” and ethnic identity differently, leading to misunderstandings between Ukrainians and their ethnic-Ukrainian "brothers and sisters” abroad. An innovative exploration of the persistence of vernacular culture in the modern world, Ukrainian Otherlands, amply informed by theory and fieldwork, will appeal to those interested in folklore, ethnic and diaspora studies, modernity, migration, folk psychology, history, and cultural anthropology.
Bush Bound by Paolo GaibazziWhereas most studies of migration focus on movement, this book examines the experience of staying put. It looks at young men living in a Soninke-speaking village in Gambia who, although eager to travel abroad for money and experience, settle as farmers, heads of families, businessmen, civic activists, or, alternatively, as unemployed, demoted youth. Those who stay do so not only because of financial and legal limitations, but also because of pressures to maintain family and social bases in the Gambia valley. 'Stayers' thus enable migrants to migrate, while ensuring the activities and values attached to rural life are passed on to the future generations.
Primates in the Real World by Georgina M. MontgomeryThe opening of this vital new book centers on a series of graves memorializing baboons killed near Amboseli National Park in Kenya in 2009--a stark image that emphasizes both the close emotional connection between primate researchers and their subjects and the intensely human qualities of the animals. Primates in the Real World goes on to trace primatology’s shift from short-term expeditions designed to help overcome centuries-old myths to the field’s arrival as a recognized science sustained by a complex web of international collaborations. Considering a series of pivotal episodes spanning the twentieth century, Georgina Montgomery shows how individuals both within and outside of the scientific community gradually liberated themselves from primate folklore to create primate science. Achieved largely through a movement from the lab to the field as the primary site of observation, this development reflected an urgent and ultimately extremely productive reassessment of what constitutes "natural" behavior for primates. An important contribution to the history of science and of women’s roles in science, as well as to animal studies and the exploration of the animal-human boundary, Montgomery’s engagingly written narrative provides the general reader with the most accessible overview to date of this enduringly fascinating field of study.