Studying Societies and Cultures: Marvin Harris's Cultural Materialism and Its Legacy

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One of the most important anthropologists of all time, Marvin Harris was influential worldwide as the founder of cultural materialism. This book accessibly analyzes Harris's theories and their important legacies today. The chapters explore cultural materialism's epistemology and its relation to rational choice theory, Darwinian social science, and population pressures. The authors assess recent attempts to extend and reformulate cultural materialism and highlight cross-cultural, archaeological, and ethnographic applications of cultural materialism today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594512872
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Series: Studies in Comparative Social Science
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence A. Kuznar is Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University–Purdue University, Fort Wayne. He is the author of Reclaiming a Scientific Anthropology (Altamira Press 1997).

Stephen K. Sanderson is currently a visiting professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, where he specializes in comparative-historical sociology, sociological theory, and evolutionary sociology. He is the author or editor of ten books in sixteen editions, among them Evolutionism and Its Critics: Deconstructing and Reconstructing an Evolutionary Interpretation of Human Society (Paradigm, 2007) and Revolutions: A Worldwide Introduction to Social and Political Contention (2nd ed., Paradigm, 2010).

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Table of Contents

Preface     vii
List of Contributors     ix
Introduction: The Potentials and Challenges of Cultural Materialism   Lawrence A. Kuznar   Stephen K. Sanderson     1
The Legacy of Cultural Materialism: I
The Impact of Cultural Materialism: A Bibliometric Analysis of the Writings of Marvin Harris   Pamela Effrein Sandstrom   Howard D. White     20
The Theoretical Legacies of Cultural Materialism and Marvin Harris   James Lett     56
The Epistemology of Cultural Materialism
Cultural Materialism, Scientific Anthropology, Epistemology, and "Narrative Ethnographies of the Particular"   H. Sidky     66
Cultural Materialism, Rational Choice, and the Problem of General Ethnography: Marvin Harris and the Struggle for Science in Anthropology   Alan R. Sandstrom     78
Applications of Cultural Materialism
Materialist Particularity in Nuclear Micronesia: A Pre-Postmodernist Theory of Cultural Evolution   James G. Peoples     104
Linking Past and Present: Cultural Materialism, Archaeology, and the Medieval Transition in the Aegean   P. Nick Kardulias     128
Effects of the Physical and Social Environment on Culture: Results of Cross-Cultural Tests   Melvin Ember   Carol R. Ember     153
The Darwinian Challenge to Cultural Materialism
The Effect of Nepotismon the Evolution of Social Inequality   Lawrence A. Kuznar   William G. Frederick   Robert L. Sedlmeyer     168
Coevolutionary Materialism   James W. Dow     180
Marvin Harris, Meet Charles Darwin: A Critical Evaluation and Theoretical Extension of Cultural Materialism   Stephen K. Sanderson     194
The Legacy of Cultural Materialism: II
What Role Does Population Pressure Play in the Evolutionary Dynamics of Marvin Harris?   Robert L. Carneiro     230
Evolutionary Materialism and Darwinian Conflict Theory: A Critical Analysis of Stephen Sanderson's Extensions of Cultural Materialism   David P. Kennedy     238
When Is a Theoretical Strategy Not Cultural Materialism? Comments on Kennedy's Critique of Evolutionary Materialism and Darwinian Conflict Theory   Stephen K. Sanderson     256
Requiscat in Pace-Obituaries of Marvin Harris "Marvin Harris, 74, Is Dead; Professor Was Iconoclast of Anthropologists"   Douglas Martin     261
"Marvin Harris (1927-2001)"   Maxine L. Margolis   Conrad Phillip Kottak     263
Selected Other Obituaries of Marvin Harris     268
Bibliography of Marvin Harris, 1952-2001   Pamela Effrein Sandstrom     269
References     285
Index     313
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