The Anthropology of Texts, Persons and Publics

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Overview

What can texts - both written and oral - tell us about the societies that produce them? How are texts constituted in different cultures, and how do they shape societies and individuals? How can we understand the people who compose them? Drawing on examples from Africa and other countries, this original study sets out to answer these questions, by exploring textuality from a variety of angles. Topics covered include the importance of genre, the ways in which oral genres transcend the here-and-now, and the complex relationship between texts and the material world. Barber considers the ways in which personhood is evoked, both in oral poetry and in written diaries and letters, discusses the audience's role in creating the meaning of texts, and shows textual creativity to be a universal human capacity expressed in myriad forms. Engaging and thought-provoking, this book will be welcomed by anyone interested in anthropology, literature and cultural studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The brilliance of Karin Barber's book unfolds in her analyses of oral and written texts - praise poetry, epic poems, songs, novels, letters, and unpublished journals - from a wide range of African cultures and historical periods. As we follow Barber's linguistically, culturally, and historically grounded analyses of specific texts, we gain layers of insight into a variety of cultures' constructions of personhood and publics at particular places and times." - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521837873
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2007
  • Series: New Departures in Anthropology Series , #5
  • Pages: 286
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Karin Barber is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Birmingham.

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Table of Contents

1. Anthropology and text; 2. Genre, society and history; 3. The constitution of oral texts; 4. Text and personhood; 5. Audiences and publics; 6. The private; 7. Textual fields and popular creativity.

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