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Culture in Practice: Selected Essays

Overview

Culture in Practice collects the academic and political writings from the 1960s through the 1990s of anthropologist Marshall Sahlins. More than a compilation,Culture in Practice unfolds as an intellectual autobiography. The book opens with Sahlins's early general studies of culture, economy, and human nature. It then moves to his reportage and reflections on the war in Vietnam and the antiwar movement, the event that most strongly affected his thinking about cultural specificity. Finally,it offers his more ...

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Overview

Culture in Practice collects the academic and political writings from the 1960s through the 1990s of anthropologist Marshall Sahlins. More than a compilation,Culture in Practice unfolds as an intellectual autobiography. The book opens with Sahlins's early general studies of culture, economy, and human nature. It then moves to his reportage and reflections on the war in Vietnam and the antiwar movement, the event that most strongly affected his thinking about cultural specificity. Finally,it offers his more historical and globally aware works on indigenous peoples,especially those of the Pacific islands.Sahlins exposes the cultural specificity of the West, developing a critical account of the distinctive ways that we act in and understand the world. The book includes a play/review of Robert Ardrey's sociobiology, essays on "native" consumption patterns of food and clothes in America and the West, explorations of how two thousand years of Western cosmology affect our understanding of others, and ethnohistorical accounts of how cultural orders of Europeans and Pacific islanders structured the historical experiences of both.

Throughout, Sahlins offers his own way of thinking about the anthropological project. To transcend critically our native categories in order to understand how other peoples have historically constructed their modes of existence—even now, in the era of globalization—is the great challenge of contemporary anthropology.

Zone Books

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A publication that has value both as an historical record of changing Western intellectual fortunes and as an authoritative compendium of observations on those cultures whose beliefs are so often marginalized." Robert Pepperell Leonardo

Zone Books

" Culture in Practice, a beautifully produced collection of essays from four decades, provides a synoptic view of the work that has made Sahlins one of the most important anthropologists in America." T. M.

Luhrmann TLS

Zone Books

Library Journal
Written throughout most of Sahlins's career, these essays prove that there remain a few anthropologists unafraid to address core issues, in this case, the relationship between the individual and the culture. In the first part, Sahlins (emeritus, Univ. of Chicago) applies his Marxist, structuralist theory to various cultural domains, including food, clothing, and color. The second part reveals Sahlins as an astute critic of U.S. military activity in Vietnam who assessed the situation in that country first-hand. The final and most challenging part reappraises the roles of anthropology and history as scholarly disciplines, especially regarding their understanding, of tribal societies and the meanings of violence, conquest, and hegemony as historical or evolutionary processes. Presumably, Sahlins has collected these works to sum up at least part of his legacy, and thus it is disappointing that he has supplied no useful autobiographical statement. His writing is sometimes pretentious, obscure, and difficult to follow, and his earnest discussions of now-quaint notions of relevance, the establishment, and revolution may induce either nostalgia or flashbacks. Nevertheless, this book makes important contributions to political and economic anthropology, historiography, and cultural/postcolonial studies. Recommended for academic and major public libraries.--Jay H. Bernstein, Fordham Univ. Lib., Bronx, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780942299380
  • Publisher: Zone Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2005
  • Pages: 600
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marshall Sahlins is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at the University of Chicago. His books include Stone Age Economics, Culture and Practical Reason,Islands of History, and How "Natives" Think: About Captain Cook, For Example.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 9
Pt. 1 Culture
I African Nemesis: An Off-Broadway Review (1964) 43
II Poor Man, Rich Man, Big-Man, Chief: Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia (1963) 71
III The Original Affluent Society (1972) 95
IV Colors and Cultures (1976) 139
V La Pensee Bourgeoise: Western Society as Culture (1976) 163
Pt. 2 Practice
VI The Future of the National Teach-In: A History (1965) 209
VII The Peace Offensive and the Ky Regime (1966) 219
VIII The Destruction of Conscience in Vietnam (1966) 229
IX The Established Order: Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate (1967) 261
X Individual Experience and Cultural Order (1982) 277
XI The Return of the Event, Again (1991) 293
XII The Discovery of the True Savage (1994) 353
XIII Cosmologies of Capitalism: The Trans-Pacific Sector of "The World System" (1988) 415
XIV Goodbye to Tristes Tropes: Ethnography in the Context of Modern World History (1993) 471
XV What Is Anthropological Enlightenment? Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century (1999) 501
XVI The Sadness of Sweetness; or, The Native Anthropology of Western Cosmology (1996) 527
Bibliography 585
Index 629
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