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New Books - February
Cities of the Dead by Nasser Rabbat; Elmira Kochumkulova; Alytn Kapalova; Margaret Morton
A Kyrgyz cemetery seen from a distance is astonishing. The ornate domes and minarets, tightly clustered behind stone walls, seem at odds with this desolate mountain region. Islam, the prominent religion in the region since the twelfth century, discourages tombstones or decorative markers. However, elaborate Kyrgyz tombs combine earlier nomadic customs with Muslim architectural forms. After the territory was formally incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1876, enamel portraits for the deceased were attached to the Muslim monuments. Yet everything within the walls is overgrown with weeds, for it is not Kyrgyz tradition for the living to frequent the graves of the dead. Architecturally unique, Kyrgyzstan’s dramatically sited cemeteries reveal the complex nature of the Kyrgyz people’s religious and cultural identities. Often said to have left behind few permanent monuments or books, the Kyrgyz people in fact left behind a magnificent legacy when they buried their dead. Traveling in Kyrgyzstan, photographer Margaret Morton became captivated by the otherworldly grandeur of these cemeteries. Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan collects the photographs she made on several visits to the area and is an important contribution to the architectural and cultural record of this region.
Debating Race in Contemporary India by Duncan McDuie-Ra
Race debates have become more frequent at the national level, and the response to racism in the media and by politicians has shifted from denial to acknowledgment to action. Focusing on the experiences of communities from India's Northeast borderland, the author explores the dynamics of race debates in contemporary India.
Memory Traces by Laura Marie Amrhein; Cynthia Kristan-Graham (Editor)
In Memory Traces, art historians and archaeologists come together to examine the nature of sacred space in Mesoamerica. Through five well-known and important centers of political power and artistic invention in Mesoamerica--Tetitla at Teotihuacan, Tula Grande, the Mound of the Building Columns at El Tajín, the House of the Phalli at Chichén Itzá, and Tonina--contributors explore the process of recognizing and defining sacred space, how sacred spaces were viewed and used both physically and symbolically, and what theoretical approaches are most useful for art historians and archaeologists seeking to understand these places. Memory Traces acknowledges that the creation, use, abandonment, and reuse of sacred space have a strongly recursive relation to collective memory and meanings linked to the places in question and reconciles issues of continuity and discontinuity of memory in ancient Mesoamerican sacred spaces. It will be of interest to students and scholars of Mesoamerican studies and material culture, art historians, architectural historians, and cultural anthropologists. Contributors: Laura M. Amrhein, Nicholas P. Dunning, Rex Koontz, Cynthia Kristan-Graham, Matthew G. Looper, Travis Nygard, Keith M. Prufer, Matthew H. Robb, Patricia J. Sarro, Kaylee Spencer, Eric Weaver, Linnea Wren
By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean by Sir Barry Cunliffe
By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean is nothing less than the story of how humans first started building the globalized world we know today. Set on a huge continental stage, from Europe to China, it is a tale covering over 10,000 years, from the origins of farming around 9000 BC to the expansion of the Mongols in the thirteenth century AD. An unashamedly 'big history', it charts the development of European, Near Eastern, and Chinesecivilizations and the growing links between them by way of the Indian Ocean, the silk Roads, and the great steppe corridor (which crucially allowed horse riders to travel from Mongolia to the Great Hungarian Plainwithin a year). Along the way, it is also the story of the rise and fall of empires, the development of maritime trade, and the shattering impact of predatory nomads on their urban neighbours. Above all, as this immense historical panorama unfolds, we begin to see in clearer focus those basic underlying factors - the acquisitive nature of humanity, the differing environments in which people live, and the dislocating effect of even slight climatic variation - which havedriven change throughout the ages, and which help us better understand our world today.
Californio Portraits by Harry W. Crosby
First published in 1981, Harry W. Crosby's Last of the Californios captured the history of the mountain people of Baja California during a critical moment of transition, when the 1974 completion of the transpeninsular highway increased the Californios' contact with the outside world and profoundly affected their traditional way of life. This updated and expanded version of that now-classic work incorporates the fruits of further investigation into the Californios' lives and history, by Crosby and others. The result is the most thorough and extensive account of the people of Baja California from the time of the peninsula's occupation by the Spaniards in the seventeenth century to the present. Californio Portraits combines history and sociology to provide an in-depth view of a culture that has managed to survive dramatic changes. Having ridden hundreds of miles by mule to visit with various Californio families and gain their confidence, Crosby provides an unparalleled view of their unique lifestyle. Beginning with the story of the first Californios--the eighteenth-century presidio soldiers who accompanied Jesuit missionaries, followed by miners and independent ranchers--Crosby provides personal accounts of their modern-day descendants and the ways they build their homes, prepare their food, find their water, and tan their cowhides. Augmenting his previous work with significant new sources, material, and photographs, he draws a richly textured portrait of a people unlike any other--families cultivating skills from an earlier century, living in semi-isolation for decades and, even after completion of the transpeninsular highway, reachable only by mule and horseback. Combining a revised and updated text with a new foreword, introduction, and updated bibliography, Californio Portraits offers the clearest and most detailed portrait possible of a fascinating, unique, and inaccessible people and culture.
New Books - February
Deathpower by Erik W. Davis
Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Cambodia, Erik W. Davis radically reorients approaches toward the nature of Southeast Asian Buddhism's interactions with local religious practice and, by extension, reorients our understanding of Buddhism itself. Through a vivid study of contemporary Cambodian Buddhist funeral rites, he reveals the powerfully integrative role monks play as they care for the dead and negotiate the interplay of non-Buddhist spirits and formal Buddhist customs. Buddhist monks perform funeral rituals rooted in the embodied practices of Khmer rice farmers and the social hierarchies of Khmer culture. The monks' realization of death underwrites key components of the Cambodian social imagination: the distinction between wild death and celibate life, the forest and the field, and moral and immoral forms of power. By connecting the performative aspects of Buddhist death rituals to Cambodian history and everyday life, Davis undermines the theory that Buddhism and rural belief systems necessarily oppose each other. Instead, he shows Cambodian Buddhism to be a robust tradition with ethical and popular components extending throughout Khmer society.
Images of Public Wealth or the Anatomy of Well-Being in Indigenous Amazonia by Fernando Santos-Granero (Editor)
What is considered a good life in contemporary societies? Can we measure well-being and happiness? Reflecting a global interest on the topics of well-being, happiness, and the good life in the face of the multiple failures of millennial capitalism, Images of Public Wealth or the Anatomy of Well-Being in Indigenous Amazonia deliberately appropriates a concept developed by classical economists to understand wealth accumulation in capitalist societies in order to denaturalize it and assess its applicability in non-capitalist kin-based societies. Mindful of the widespread discontent generated by the ongoing economic crisis in postindustrial societies as well as the renewed attempts by social scientists to measure more effectively what we consider to be "development" and "economic success," the contributors to this volume contend that the study of public wealth in indigenous Amazonia provides not only an exceptional opportunity to apprehend native notions of wealth, poverty, and the good life, but also to engage in a critical revision of capitalist constructions of living well. Through ethnographic analysis and thought-provoking new approaches to contemporary and historical cases, the book's contributors reveal how indigenous views of wealth--based on the abundance of intangibles such as vitality, good health, biopower, and convivial relations--are linked to the creation of strong, productive, and moral individuals and collectivities, differing substantially from those in capitalist societies more inclined toward the avid accumulation and consumption of material goods.
Marching Against Gender Practice by J. P. Linstroth
Marching against Gender Practice: Political Imaginings in the Basqueland begins with the question: why is it so problematic for the majority of people in the Basque town of Hondarribia to accept the broader participation of women in their annual military march known as the Alarde? To explain this dispute, this study examines local history as well as the history of this unique parade, but most importantly considers how gender practices were and are organized. The controversy to extend female involvement in the Alarde resulted in two positions between betikoak traditionalists, (Betiko Alardearen Aldekoak, Always the Town s Alarde ), and local feminists (emakumealdekoak or Emakumeak JuanaMugarrietakoa, the Women of Mugarrietakoa, WJM), the former group wishing to preserve the ritual and the latter wanting to change it. These are not simply dichotomous stances but represent multiple levels of local identity through differing concepts of gender, history, and social experience. It will be shown throughout the Alarde s long history (1639-present) that it represents several periods of militarism from the town s defense in 1638 against French forces, Napoleonic resistance (1808-1813) to the Carlist Wars (1833-1840 and 1872-1876). The Alarde began as a religious procession and gradually incorporated more and more secular elements. In essence, by the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century, the Alarde became one of many Basque celebrations (Euskal jaiak), tying it to Basque nationalism. Marching against Gender Practice centers on gender analyses of two opposing gender worldviews between the betikoak traditionalists and WJM feminists, but it aims at being applicable to gender theories in general, especially how gender may be cognized and what cognitive processes and cognitive systems may be included in the cognition of gender. By implication, it is asserted that collective imagination is not an immutable or static concept but may represent locality, regionalism, and nationalism as well as imbue concepts of communality, individuality, gender, harmony, historical narration, memory, social organization, and tradition. Commemorative, historical or re-enactment rituals like the Alarde of Hondarribia explain the duration of local identity, its transformation over time, and newer expressions of identity, which are continually being contested and reaffirmed through collective imagination."
Media, Anthropology and Public Engagement by Sarah Pink (Editor); Simone Abram (Editor)
Contemporary anthropology is done in a world where social and digital media are playing an increasingly significant role, where anthropological and arts practices are often intertwined in museum and public intervention contexts, and where anthropologists are encouraged to engage with mass media. Because anthropologists are often expected and inspired to ensure their work engages with public issues, these opportunities to disseminate work in new ways and to new publics simultaneously create challenges as anthropologists move their practice into unfamiliar collaborative domains and expose their research to new forms of scrutiny. In this volume, contributors question whether a fresh public anthropology is emerging through these new practices.
Occupied Lives by Nina Gren
Intense media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not necessarily enhance one's knowledge or understanding of the Palestinians; on the contrary they are more often than not reduced to either victims or perpetrators. Similarly, while many academic studies devote considerableeffort to analyzing the political situation in the occupied territories, there have been few sophisticated case studies of Palestinian refugees living under Israeli rule. An ethnographic study of Palestinian refugees in Dheisheh refugee camp, just south of Bethlehem, Occupied Lives looks closely atthe attempts of the camp inhabitants to survive and bounce back from the profound effects of political violence and Israeli military occupation on their daily lives. Based on the author's extensive fieldwork conducted inside the camp, including a year during 2003-2004 when she lived in Dheisheh, this study examines the daily efforts of camp inhabitants to secure survival and meaning during the period of the al-Aqsa Intifada. It argues that the politicaldevelopments and experiences of extensive violence at the time, which left most refugees outside of direct activism, caused many camp inhabitants to disengage from traditional forms of politics. Instead, they became involved in alternative practices aimed at maintaining their sense of social worthand integrity, by focusing on processes to establish a 'normal' order, social continuity, and morality. Nina Gren explores these processes and the ambiguities and dilemmas that necessarily arose from them and the ways in which the political and the existential are often intertwined in Dheisheh.Combining theoretical readings with field-based case study, this book will be invaluable to scholars and students of social anthropology, sociology, international relations, refugee studies, religious studies, and Middle East studies, as well as to anyone with an interest in the Israeli-Palestinianissue.
New Books - February
Regimes of Ignorance by Roy Dilley (Editor); Thomas G. Kirsch (Editor)
Non-knowledge should not be simply regarded as the opposite of knowledge, but as complementary to it: each derives its character and meaning from the other and from their interaction. Knowledge does not colonize the space of ignorance in the progressive march of science; rather, knowledge and ignorance are mutually shaped in social and political domains of partial, shifting, and temporal relationships. This volume's ethnographic analyses provide a theoretical frame through which to consider the production and reproduction of ignorance, non-knowledge, and secrecy, as well as the wider implications these ideas have for anthropology and related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.
Anthropology of Religion: the Basics by James S. Bielo
Anthropology of Religion: The Basicsis an accessible and engaging introductory text organized around key issues that all anthropologists of religion face. This book uses a wide range of historical and ethnographic examples to address not only what is studied by anthropologists of religion, but how such studies are approached. It addresses questions such as: How do human agents interact with gods and spirits? What is the nature of doing religious ethnography? Can the immaterial be embodied in the body, language and material objects? What is the role of ritual, time, and place in religion? Why is charisma important for religious movements? How do global processes interact with religions? With international case studies from a range of religious traditions, suggestions for further reading, and inventive reflection boxes, Anthropology of Religion: The Basicsis an essential read for students approaching the subject for the first time.
Anthropology's Politics by Lara Deeb; Jessica Winegar
U.S. involvement in the Middle East has brought the region into the media spotlight and made it a hot topic in American college classrooms. At the same time, anthropology--a discipline committed to on-the-ground research about everyday lives and social worlds--has increasingly been criticized as "useless" or "biased" by right-wing forces. What happens when the two concerns meet, when such accusations target the researchers and research of a region so central to U.S. military interests? This book is the first academic study to shed critical light on the political and economic pressures that shape how U.S. scholars research and teach about the Middle East. Lara Deeb and Jessica Winegar show how Middle East politics and U.S. gender and race hierarchies affect scholars across their careers--from the first decisions to conduct research in the tumultuous region, to ongoing politicized pressures from colleagues, students, and outside groups, to hurdles in sharing expertise with the public. They detail how academia, even within anthropology, an assumed "liberal" discipline, is infused with sexism, racism, Islamophobia, and Zionist obstruction of any criticism of the Israeli state. Anthropology's Politics offers a complex portrait of how academic politics ultimately hinders the education of U.S. students and potentially limits the public's access to critical knowledge about the Middle East.
The Discourse of Race in Modern China by Frank Dikötter
First published in 1992, The Discourse of Race in Modern China rapidly became a classic, showing for the first time on the basis of detailed evidence how and why racial categorisation became so widespread in China. After the country's devastating defeat against Japan in 1895, leading reformerslike Yan Fu, Liang Qichao and Kang Youwei turned away from the Confucian classics to seek enlightenment abroad, hoping to find the keys to wealth and power on the distant shores of Europe. Instead, they discovered the notion of "race", and used new evolutionary theories from Charles Darwin andHerbert Spencer to present a universe red in tooth and claw in which "yellows" competed with "whites" in a deadly struggle for survival. After the fall of the empire in 1911, prominent politicians and writers in republican China continued to measure, classify and rank people from around the worldaccording to their supposed biological features, all in the name of science. Racial thinking remains popular in the People's Republic of China, as serologists, geneticists and anthropometrists continue to interpret human variation in terms of "race". This new edition has been revised and expanded to include a new chapter taking the reader up to the twenty-firstcentury.
Practicing Materiality by Ruth M. Van Dyke (Editor)
It is little wonder that relationships between things and humans are front-and-center in the contemporary social sciences, given the presence of technologies in every conceivable aspect of our lives. From Bruno Latour to Ian Hodder, anthropologists and archaeologists are embracing "thing theory" and the "ontological turn." In Practicing Materiality, Ruth M. Van Dyke cautions that as anthropologists turn toward animals and things, they run the risk of turning away from people and intentional actions.           Practicing Materiality focuses on the practical job of applying materiality to anthropological investigations, but with the firm retention of anthropocentrism. The philosophical discussions that run through the nine chapters develop practical applications for material studies, including Heideggerian phenomenology, Gellian secondary agency, object life histories, and bundling. Seven case studies are flanked by an introduction and a discussion chapter. The case studies represent a wide range of archaeological and anthropological contexts, from contemporary New York City and Turkey to fifteenth-century Portugal, the ancient southwest United States, and the ancient Andes. Authors in every chapter argue for the rejection of subject/object dualism, regarding material things as actively involved in the negotiation of power within human social relationships. Practicing Materiality demonstrates that it is possible to focus on the entangled lives of things without losing sight of their political and social implications.