Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory / Edition 2

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Overview


Alfred Gell puts forward a new anthropological theory of visual art, seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He argues that existing anthropological and aesthetic theories take an overwhelmingly passive point of view, and questions the criteria that accord art status only to a certain class of objects and not to others. The anthropology of art is here reformulated as the anthropology of a category of action: Gell shows how art objects embody complex intentionalities and mediate social agency. He explores the psychology of patterns and perceptions, art and personhood, the control of knowledge, and the interpretation of meaning, drawing upon a diversity of artistic traditions--European, Indian, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Australian.

Art and Agency was completed just before Alfred Gell's death at the age of 51 in January 1997. It embodies the intellectual bravura, lively wit, vigour, and erudition for which he was admired, and will stand as an enduring testament to one of the most gifted anthropologists of his generation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[This] is not only a contribution to anthropology but a subtle and original counterweight to the banalities of globalization theory."--Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198280149
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/3/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 737,554
  • Lexile: 1430L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Alfred Gell is a former Reader in Anthropology in the London School of Economics.

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Table of Contents

Foreword, Nicholas Thomas
1. The Problem Defined: The Need for an Anthropology of Art
2. The Theory of the Art Nexus
3. The Art Nexus and the Index
4. The Involution of the Index in the Art Nexus
5. The Origination of the Index
6. The Critique of the Index
7. The Distributed Person
8. Style and Culture
9. Conclusion: The Extended Mind
Bibliography
Index

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