On the Order of Chaos: Social Anthropology and the Science of Chaos

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Overview

Over the past two decades, “chaos theory” – the perception of order previously hidden in phenomena of apparent randomness and disorder – has fundamentally transformed the natural sciences. In recent years, numerous scholars in the social sciences and humanities have attempted to adapt the insights of chaos theory to their studies of human cultural and social systems. Several of the world’s leading anthropologists, such as Roy Wagner, Marshall Sahlins, Marilyn Strathern, and Arjun Appadurai – have similarly drawn upon particular elements of chaos theory for their inspiration, but as yet there is no focused, comprehensive treatment of the applicability of chaos theory to anthropology’s distinctive ethnographic and cross-cultural materials. This edited volume fills the gap, with both accessible theoretical discussions of chaos theory applications in anthropology and detailed ethnographic and historical illustrations from Africa and Melanesia.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845450236
  • Publisher: Berghahn Books, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark S. Mosko is Professor of Anthropology in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University.

Fred Damon is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Prologue
Ch. 1 Introduction : a (re)turn to chaos : chaos theory, the sciences, and social anthropological theory 1
Ch. 2 From Levi-Strauss to chaos and complexity 47
Ch. 3 Fractal figurations : homologies and hierarchies in Kabre culture 64
Ch. 4 "Pity" and "ecstasy" : the problem of order and differentiated difference across Kula societies 79
Ch. 5 Fractality and the exchange of perspectives 108
Ch. 6 Fluids and fractals in Rwanda : order and chaos 136
Ch. 7 Peace, war, sex, and sorcery : nonlinear analogical transformation in the early escalation of North Mekeo sorcery and chiefly practice 166
Ch. 8 Afterword : order is what happens when chaos loses its temper 206
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