Anthropology and Global History: From Tribes to the Modern World-System

Anthropology and Global History: From Tribes to the Modern World-System

by Robert M. Carmack
     
 

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Anthropology and Global History explains the origin and development of human societies and cultures from their earliest beginnings to the present—utilizing an anthropological lens but also drawing from sociology, economics, political science, history, and ecological and religious studies.

Carmack reconceptualizes world history from a global perspective by

Overview

Anthropology and Global History explains the origin and development of human societies and cultures from their earliest beginnings to the present—utilizing an anthropological lens but also drawing from sociology, economics, political science, history, and ecological and religious studies.

Carmack reconceptualizes world history from a global perspective by employing the expansive concepts of “world-systems” and “civilizations,” and by paying deeper attention to the role of tribal and native peoples within this history. Rather than concentrating on the minute details of specific great events in global history, he shifts our focus to the broad social and cultural contexts in which they occurred. Carmack traces the emergence of ancient kingdoms and the characteristics of pre-modern empires as well as the processes by which the modern world has become integrated and transformed. The book addresses Western civilization as well as comparative processes which have unfolded in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Vignettes opening each chapter and case studies integrated throughout the text illustrate the numerous and often extremely complex historical processes which have operated through time and across local, regional, and global settings.

Editorial Reviews

John H. Bodley
Anthropology and Global History is a grand overview of human history and prehistory and a welcomed interdisciplinary contribution to the literature on world civilizations.The anthropological perspective means carefully viewing all societies and cultures in their own terms, showing how peoples in radically different societies and cultures understand their own systems and discussing how they fit within the larger world system.I am pleased that Carmack specifically includes well-informed accounts of the tribal world and highlights indigenous peoples as active agents in the contemporary world. Carmack also draws on his authoritative knowledge of Mesoamerican and Andean archaeology and ethnohistory.The world systems framework organizes the book, but he does not accept it uncritically, instead he contrasts world systems interpretations with multiple competing perspectives.The opening vignettes and case studies in each chapter give colorful details that add life to the illuminating theoretical interpretations and explanations of how the contemporary world operates and what its future might be.
Robert Jarvenpa
Robert Carmack's Anthropology and Global History is a masterful synthesis of the human condition across the grand sweep of time and space, from ancient tribal societies and empires to recent nation-states. By integrating "world-system" and "civilization" approaches to history, he creatively charts a complex ebb and flow of societal interactions, conflicts, expansion, colonization and exploitation on a global stage. These dynamics are richly illustrated by and interpreted from the vantage point of the diversity of cultural traditions known to anthropology. Works of this commanding scope and insight rarely come along. Carmack's book is certain to impact the field for years to come.
CHOICE
Anthropologist Carmack provides an overview of global history intertwined with a discussion of scholarly attempts to conceptualize historical change. He employs what he calls a 'global-oriented world-system and civilization framework.' Summarizing the work of scholars including Immanuel Wallerstein (especially), Eric Wolf, Samuel Huntington, Benjamin Barber, and others, he explores how a 'world-systems' framework enhances understanding of historical change in 'civilizations' across the world; in particular, understanding why actors within them pursue liberal developmentalist or radical revolutionary agendas . . . [T]he book provides a helpful introduction to many critical ideas. . . .[T]hose trying to grapple with and conceptualize the 'big picture' will find much of value in the book's theoretical summaries, definitions, and vignettes. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.
David Carey
Anthropology and Global History is impressive in its breadth and depth, concise enough to hold the reader’s attention, and thorough enough to provide a rich sense of the major scholars and critics of World System theory as well as the history and anthropology of various world regions. Students and scholars alike will appreciate this excellent synthesis of the history of aboriginal peoples the world over—not to mention Carmack’s lively and engaging writing.
Jim Weil
A fascinating and ambitious book! I applaud Carmack’s conscientious presentation of macro-historical concepts, and his engaging use of illustrative vignettes and case studies. This text imparts a valuable interdisciplinary and historical perspective on our global cultural heritage and contemporary global challenges.
Warren Roberts
Carmack sees the rise of the West as part of a historical progression beginning with tribal societies and continuing to today’s world of global conflicts. To read this invaluable book is to understand the stages of history over time and within their various geographic, cultural, and religious frameworks; it is to understand the rise of civilizations over the entire sweep of history, progressing from tribal societies to today’s world of global conflicts; and it is to ponder the problems and prospects of the future.
Asian Ethnology
Anthropology and World History is a cross-disciplinary work that may be of interest to historians, political scientists, economists, and geographers, as well as anthropologists…. There are very few anthropologists who have the ability (or the desire) to do this kind of work, and the breadth of knowledge required is formidable…. Anthropology and World History is, by turns, ambitious, engaging, and challenging. Carmack raises many important issues, resolving some while allowing others to percolate. This kind of global comparative history is not in vogue in much of cultural anthropology today. Many cultural anthropologists prefer micro-analytic ethnographic approaches to macro-historical comparative approaches. Carmack sees these two approaches as compatible rather than mutually exclusive. In arguing for global history, he reminds anthropologists of the larger questions that have animated the discipline from its beginnings. Who are we? Where did we come from? And where are we going?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780759123892
Publisher:
AltaMira Press
Publication date:
10/11/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
406
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Robert M. Carmack is professor emeritus of Anthropology, University at Albany. He has authored or edited thirty books in his long career and specializes in anthropology and archaeology of the indigenous of Central America, particularly the Mayas.

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