Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology
Pub Date: 2017
ISBN 13: 978-1-9313035-5-2
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The text as a whole is very comprehensive, as are the individual chapters. With one exception the text covers all of the topics I include in my read more
The text as a whole is very comprehensive, as are the individual chapters. With one exception the text covers all of the topics I include in my introductory course in cultural anthropology. The one topic missing in my view is social class and the cultural dimensions of inequality, particularly the concepts of cultural and social capital as well as resistance. Anthropological approaches influenced my Marx and Marxist thinking could receive more attention. Chapters on language, politics, and economics do address the issue to some extent, but my ideal text would include a more extensive treatment of this topic.
I find the text to be quite accurate on the whole. I found very few mischaracterizations of ideas or situations. In a couple of instances very brief reference was made to an interpretation that is highly speculative. This is a bit dangerous in my view given that many students in introductory courses may be skeptical of anthropology's validity. In a case like this it is better to leave a very questionable point out, or to provide more information about the issue to allow students and instructors to discuss the matter in more detail.
The text does a nice job overall of using both "classic" anthropological ideas and examples/case studies as well as very recent examples. The inclusion of examples with which students will likely be familiar is very important to demonstrating the relevance of cultural anthropology to issues students are likely to see as close to "home." At the same time, such examples can easily become less relevant in a fairly short time. Although it is a decidedly important area of interest and one most students would be aware of, Donald Trump's presidency received a bit too much attention. And although Islamic State is a very important example for political anthropology, the extent of that treatment is a bit out of proportion in comparison to other chapters' case studies.
By and large the chapters are very clearly written and seem to be "pitched" at the right level. Some parts of the first three introductory chapters (anthropology, culture, research methods) struck me as a bit too elementary, but all of the topical chapters were clearly written.
The text is reasonably consistent, especially considering that each chapter was written by different authors, often multiple ones. The use of multiple authors makes it unavoidable that as a whole it is not as consistent as a book by a single author would be, but again, the consistency is very good given that fact. The consistent format is helpful.
I could imagine assigning individual chapters of the text, so I would rate the modularity as good. With some exceptions, individual chapters and sections are of reasonable length. The chapter on gender in particular struck me as quite long — perhaps finding a way to create two chapters would have been helpful. Given that the text lends itself to possibly assigning individual chapters, it would be helpful if it were offered not just with the entire text as a pdf file, but also as individual chapters, or on a site where students could select individual chapters to read.
The overall organization works well. The one thing that struck me as less than ideal was the degree of overlap between the first three chapters. This is understandably challenging: the discipline, its central concept, and its methods are all very closely intertwined, so it is challenging to separate those topics from one another and discuss them effectively in distinct chapters without too much overlap. That said, I could imagine my students finding some of the material/chapters repetitive. Repetition is not always bad, and the editors note that the overlap can be used to highlight the centrality of holism, but I think some additional editing to reduce some of the overlap in the early chapters would be welcome.
The interface is generally user-friendly. I appreciate the inclusion of live links to videos and other materials. As noted above, the single pdf file that I used is a bit cumbersome if one is doing anything other than reading all of the chapters in order.
I did not identify any significant problems with grammar.
The variety of examples is impressive. This is no doubt one advantage of having many authors. The nature of the examples and commentary in some cases make the chapters less than ideal in my view. This may depend on the student population with which one works. In my view cultural anthropology meshes closely with what broadly counts as a "liberal" perspective, and it certainly does so in my case. In many parts of this text that connection is also evident. That said, I work to balance that with the awareness that many students find it easy to dismiss the findings and perspectives of the discipline as simply "liberal opinion." Here too the number and nature of references to Donald Trump certainly make the text timely, and I welcome that, in part because I support engaged anthropology. At the same time, in my particular case the need to be strategic in order to not alienate too many students is also important.
I appreciate the work of the editors and authors to make a strong open source introductory text in cultural anthropology available.
Content wise the book is comprehensive and it addresses each one of the major themes/topics that an introductory cultural anthropology course needs read more
Content wise the book is comprehensive and it addresses each one of the major themes/topics that an introductory cultural anthropology course needs to cover. The order of the topics follows a logical progression, from the simple to the complex, that allows a proper introduction to anthropology’s key ideas. The review was done on the PDF version of the book, which is my preferred reading format for students and myself. I prefer PDFs because they retain all the formatting layout of the original printed versions, which allows for proper page citations and referencing of passages when discussing it. The chapters layout on, Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, indeed reproduces what you will expected in a printed version. However, the PDF version was lacking a Table of Content, and an effective index and or global glossary. In order to view the table of content you have to go the online version of the book, a rather unnecessary step. Although there is not a global glossary, individual chapters have, after the conclusion, useful chapter glossaries and discussion questions.
This book is meant as an introduction to cultural anthropology and as such is a survey of the key concepts and debates that makes up the discipline across time. The book is accurate on its representation of the multiplicity of approaches the discipline is known for.
Both the overall structure of the book as well as the organization of each individual chapter makes this book relevant, up-to-date and easily modifiable. This is particularly true of the well organized chapter structure. From the outset you have clearly stated learning objectives. Each chapter is highly modular, broken down in smaller sections with clear headings. Key concepts are in bold. Well placed images further expand on concepts discussed. At the end of each chapter succinct conclusions accompanied by discussion questions and a chapter glossary just make of this book a joy to read for the students.
Even when the book is a collaboration of multiple authors, I found remarkably consistent the writing style. Particularly how clear and clean the prose was. The editors did a great job in keeping the writing consistent across the board.
Anthropology is a discipline with a multiplicity of approaches, theoretical and otherwise. Emphasis on what is relevant when addressing a topic vary greatly depending on the viewpoint. However, what makes this text interesting is how the editors made sure the structure of the chapters remained consistent regardless of the disciplinary approach.
While some of the chapters could have use a little more modularity, the majority of the chapter are modular, well structure and clear.
Both the overall structure of the book as well as the organization of each individual chapter makes this book relevant, up-to-date and easily modifiable. This is particularly true of the well organized chapter structure. Content wise the book is comprehensive and it addresses each one of the major themes/topics that an introductory cultural anthropology course needs to cover. The order of the topics follows a logical progression, from the simple to the complex, that allows a proper introduction to anthropology’s key ideas.
On the PDF version, other than lacking a table of content and a global glossary, the book is flawless in its typesetting, layout, and overall organizational structure.
I cannot wait to use parts of this book in many of my classes.
This book was a pleasure to review.
All basic cultural anthropology texts strive to be comprehensive. This is hard to do, given that our discipline aspires to be a science of humanity read more
All basic cultural anthropology texts strive to be comprehensive. This is hard to do, given that our discipline aspires to be a science of humanity itself – to be comprehensive is to cover holistically nearly every aspect of human life (or at least, all aspects that relate to society and culture). That is hard to do in one book, especially if there is only one author. As a collection of individual essays, this book succeeds in ways other cannot. Each individual essay is the work of an anthropologist with expertise in that specific area, so that each chapter is mostly comprehensive in its own terms. The book covers all the areas that standard textbooks cover (culture, language, kinship, gender, economics, etc.). It goes beyond those areas, however, with chapters on sustainability, performance, media, medicine, and public anthropology. And it has some excellent interviews and resources that can liven up the readings for students. It is a remarkable resource that I will draw on in upcoming classes.
Each chapter has an individual author and each other seems to have done their best to provide an accurate set of insights into the history, theories, and methods of the particular part of anthropology they study. That said, there is always room for other anthropologists to disagree, to assert alternative ideas, or contradictory evidence. Within the usual framework of our discipline, this is a very accurate representation of cultural anthropology.
This is a very up-to-date representation of cultural anthropology as of early 2018. Many of the chapters should remain relevant for quite some time. It might be helpful in the long run to add or change some of the interviews, as new anthropologists with interesting insights become available. Also, some of the links to videos in various chapters already appear to be broken. They may still be available with some searching, but that is a bit of an issue.
The chapters are mostly written in a style that should be easily accessible to undergraduates. Jargon and technical terms are explained and each chapter has a list of keywords and definitions, which is very helpful.
The format of each chapter is the same, with learning objectives, the text, highlighted terms and concepts, questions for study, a glossary, a an author bio, bibliography (often very helpful!), notes.
This book is designed so that an instructor can easily assign individual chapters without needing the entire book. This is a great feature for teaching.That said, I would not recommend breaking up the chapters into smaller sections.
The flow of the book replicates the style of most cultural anthropology textbooks, except for the extra material (interviews, etc.) at the end.
I used the Apple Ibook reader and it seems fine.
The grammar and editing were excellent.
This is a cultural anthropology introductory textbook. It covers quite a lot of ground in terms of different cultures, social structures, etc. People may be offended when confronted with the full range of human thinking, activity, etc. This is the kind of book people need to read if they want to learn about humanity and think critically about their own culture and society. If they are not prepared to be shaken out of their own insensitivity, they should not read this book.
I am quite happy to have read this and look forward to incorporating parts of it in my next intro cultural anthropology class.
Very few times I have come across a more comprehensive textbook. The 18 chapters cover major topics in Cultural Anthropology ranging from a very read more
Very few times I have come across a more comprehensive textbook. The 18 chapters cover major topics in Cultural Anthropology ranging from a very critical introduction by Laura Nader on what this discipline has historically been about, its uniqueness within the social sciences to a thought provoking chapter on Public Anthropology by the distinguished scholar Robert Borofsky. Every chapter includes useful sections such as the Learning Objectives at the beginning and the Discussion Questions at the end. Besides, for every theme the students will find excellent material in the form of photography as well as links to websites with scholarly and other sources where both students and instructors would be able to expand or go deeper into a subject. The use of notes is also pertinent and to the point. Other key feature present in each chapter is a variety of case studies that would support the students' understanding of anthropological concepts, theories, the historical and social context, and the role of the ethnographer or anthropologist within and outside academia. Also, there is no scarcity of websites for students to get hold of documentaries, other audio-visual and written material to facilitate their grasp of the subject. The Glossary at the end of each chapter also contributes to make this textbook a very user friendly one. I would hardly find a more comprehensive presentation and discussion of all the subjects included in the textbook. Another illustration of my point is Chapter 10 on the complexity of sexuality and gender coordinated by Carol Mukhopadhyay, which in my opinion goes beyond undergraduate level so the instructor has plenty of possible entries to these subjects. I am adopting the textbook with no reservations whatsoever and I am glad that my students in the Community College I am teaching will not have to pay for it
From the chapters I read I found accurate presentation and discussion of themes backed by Notes and Bibliography to credit the sources.
One of the qualities I found in the textbook is the treatment and inclusion of the "classic" works in Cultural Anthropology as well as a wide array of works by contemporary practitioners and authors. I can see how the textbook will stand the test of time.
By and large, the language used by the authors is clear and they provide explanations and illustrations to make their point(s) clear.
Every chapter of the textbook is consistent with an overall pattern that I am sure the editors where very careful about.
Perhaps the second edition should work to achieve better modularity. Taken into account that each of the 18 chapters is written by different author(s), I can explain why some sections (blocks) could be better organized.
There is a logic presentation of each chapter with a general introduction to the subject followed by the intricacies, both conceptual and ethnographic of the theme. I really appreciate the inclusion of case studies with very interesting and current perspective.
I did not find a particular problem related to interface issues. The images are clear and well chosen and the display of links to websites or other sources is correct.
I did not find any grammatical error in the several chapters that I reviewed.
One of the main reasons that drew me to the textbook is the cultural relevance of the theoretical, methodological, and ethical aspects of the material presented. I will be very happy with the exposure my students will have to main tenets of Cultural Anthropology with careful and inclusive choices of language and illustrations of concepts and case studies that incorporate up to date material.
I am going to adopt the textbook and I would like to keep in touch because, after all, it is in the actual experience that we learn and appreciate a textbook.
Table of Contents
- 1. The Development of Anthropological Ideas
- 2. The Culture Concept
- 3. Doing Fieldwork: Methods in Cultural Anthropology
- 4. Language
- 5. Subsistence
- 6. Economics
- 7. Political Anthropology: A Cross-Cultural Comparison
- 8. Family and Marriage
- 9. Race and Ethnicity
- 10. Gender and Sexuality
- 11. Religion
- 12. Globalization
- 13. Culture and Sustainability
- 14. Performance
- 15. Health and Medicine
- 16. Seeing Like an Anthropologist: Anthropology in Practice
- 17. Media Anthropology: Meaning, Embodiment, Infrastructure, and Activism
- 18. Public Anthropology
About the Book
We are delighted to bring to you this novel textbook, a collection of chapters on the essential topics in cultural anthropology. Different from other introductory textbooks, this book is an edited volume with each chapter written by a different author. Each author has written from their experiences
working as an anthropologist and that personal touch makes for an accessible introduction to cultural anthropology.
Our approach to cultural anthropology is holistic. We see the interconnectedness of cultural practices and, in all of the chapters, we emphasize the comparison of cultures and the ways of life of different peoples. We start with Laura Nader’s observation that cultural differences need not be seen
as a problem. In our complicated world of increasing migration, nationalism, and climate challenges, cultural diversity might actually be the source of conflict resolution and new approaches to ensuring a healthier world. Indeed, as Katie Nelson reminds us, anthropology exposes the familiarity in the
ideas and practices of others that seem bizarre. Robert Borofsky advocates for anthropology’s ability to empower people and facilitate good. Borofsky calls on anthropologists to engage with a wider public to bring our incredible stories and important insights to helping resolve the most critical issues
we face in the world today. This book brings Nader, Nelson, Borofsky, and many others together to demonstrate that our anthropological understandings can help all of us to improve the lives of people the world over. We need you, as students, to see the possibilities. As instructors, we want to help you
share anthropological knowledge and understanding easily. We want all readers to be inspired by the intensely personal writings of the anthropologists who contribute to this volume.
About the Contributors
Nina Brown is a sociology professor at Community College of Baltimore County - Essex located in Baltimore, Maryland.
Laura Gonzalez is a Professor in the Anthropology department at San Diego Miramar College, San Diego, CA.
Thomas Mcllwraith is a cultural anthropologist conducting research with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, Canada. In 2007, he completed a PhD in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, USA. Mcllwraith received a Master’s degree from the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in 1995. And, he has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and literature from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the department here at Guelph, he taught anthropology at Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia. He has also worked as a consulting anthropologist with First Nations communities throughout British Columbia and northern Alberta on projects related to land use planning, local and family history, and traditional knowledge.
His academic work involves the documentation of territoriality and the identification of rights of local Indigenous peoples to use land. These days, this usually means an effort to understand contemporary Indigenous land use in the context of mining and logging. His work includes an effort to understand the attitudes and biases that underpin consulting anthropology projects such as traditional land use and occupancy studies.