Read more about Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology

Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology

(17 reviews)

Nina Brown, Community College of Baltimore County

Laura Gonzalez, San Diego Miramar College

Thomas Mcllwraith, University of Guelph

Copyright Year: 2017

ISBN 13: 9781931303552

Publisher: American Anthropological Association

Language: English

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Reviewed by Lawrence Ramirez, Adjunct Instructor, California State University, Dominguez Hills on 12/19/22

This textbook gives a solid overview of key concepts, disciplinary concerns, and methodological approaches for an introductory course in cultural anthropology. Within each chapter, the authors offer a basic primer for the selected topic as... read more

Reviewed by Jennifer Bauder, Adjunct Instructor, Massachusetts Bay Community College on 12/8/22

I was impressed by the degree to which this textbook covered both topics/areas of interest/ideas that have historically been considered essential to cultural anthropology (language, subsistence, political anthropology, marriage and family,... read more

Reviewed by Miriam Kilimo, Visiting Assistant Professor, James Madison University on 11/27/22

Overall, the textbook covers the main topics that are in many other introductory cultural anthropology texts. The 2nd edition of the book is organized into two main parts. The first part provides an overview of the main topics, whereas the second... read more

Reviewed by Sanaa Riaz, Associate Professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 9/7/22

This book provides a clear introduction to the field of anthropology and the essential aspects of culture that inform anthropological inquiry. Each chapter ends with some discussion questions and a list of important key terms/glossary. It has... read more

Reviewed by Sharon Methvin, Instructor, Mt. Hood Community College on 7/27/22

A key strength of this source is its comprehensive coverage of the key concepts found in Cultural Anthropology. And, each concept is highlighted in the text for ease of finding it by the students as well as listed in the Glossary at the end of... read more

Reviewed by Erin Gould, Assistant Professor, Johnson County Community College on 5/26/22

In terms of comprehensiveness, I think the book does a great job of covering a lot of the areas that I want covered in an introductory text. Some of the ideas are covered in multiple chapters (including things like culture, kinship and family),... read more

Reviewed by Laura Elder, Associate Professor & Chair of Global Studies, Saint Mary's College on 12/10/21

The text covers all areas appropriately and in depth. My only quibble is that I hope in future iterations the authors will include more interviews with practitioners (as they did in section on "why anthropology is important" pp. 18-24 and in the... read more

Reviewed by Luis F. B. Plascencia, Adjunct Instructor, University of Texas at Arlington on 6/18/21

The text does a good job of introducing the field of cultural anthropology, though not the four-fields of anthropology. Chapter one does introduce the four fields, but the presentation is limited. This is understandable, due to the fact that it... read more

Reviewed by Toni Tileva, Professorial Lecturer, American University on 4/26/21, updated 4/30/21

The chapters are written in a sophisticated way and cover a wide variety of topics. Because the authors are different, students are exposed to a variety of approaches. Each chapter includes a glossary and bibliography. The chapter on language is... read more

Reviewed by Jennifer Haynes-Clark, Adjunct Professor, Rogue Community College on 1/7/21

The textbook offer a holistic approach to the broad field of cultural anthropology which includes an overview of special topics that should be included in any introductory course, as well as a focus on issues that are especially relevant to... read more

Reviewed by Hilary Morland, Instructor, Community College of Aurora on 8/12/20

This text is an edited volume of chapters written by different authors. It covers the history, theoretical framework, and methodology of anthropology and includes individual chapters on important topics and concepts in contemporary cultural... read more

Reviewed by Nikki Manning, Instructor of Anthropology/Archaeology, TRAILS on 11/29/19

I particularly appreciate the highlighted terms within the text and the glossary associated with each chapter. This is a useful tool for those with a verbal/linguistic style of learning and I have found for newcomers to a particular subject. While... read more

Reviewed by Jessica Park, Professor , College of Marin on 4/6/19

Overall the content is quite comprehensive. Introductory courses like cultural anthropology are taught as a survey course, covering a lot of material at a basic level. As such, these classes are quite broad. Perspectives does an excellent job of... read more

Reviewed by Jason James, Associate Professor, University of Mary Washington on 6/19/18

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... read more

Reviewed by Víctor M Torres-Vélez, Assistant Professor, Hostos Community College, CUNY on 5/21/18

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,... read more

Reviewed by David Beriss, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of New Orleans on 5/21/18

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... read more

Reviewed by Alcira Forero-Pena, Adjunct Assistant Professor, LaGuardia Community College of The City University of New York on 2/1/18

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... read more

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

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  • 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 practicesand, in all of the chapters, we emphasize the comparison of cultures and the ways of life ofdifferent 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 ensuringa 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 abilityto empower people and facilitate good. Borofsky calls on anthropologists to engage with a widerpublic 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 todemonstrate that our anthropological understandings can help all of us to improve the lives of peoplethe 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 theintensely 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. 

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