The Anthropology of Politics: Challenges and Opportunities / Edition 1

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In The Anthropology of Politics: A Reader in Ethnography, Theory and Critique, editor Joan Vincent offers her readers a selection of classic and contemporary articles on the anthropology of politics. Her introduction, headnotes, and suggested readings make this an indispensable resource for students, scholars, and instructors alike.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"The best and most provocative essays by anthropologists on politics, power, colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. This volume showcases the strengths of anthropological analysis: bringing detailed ethnographic and historical analysis to the understanding of the most pressing issues that contemporary societies face."
Louise Lamphere, University of New Mexico

"Joan Vincent has a rare grasp of anthropology's past and vision of its future. The twenty-first-century renewal of political anthropology will be excellently served by her thoughtful assemblage of foundational texts, modern classics, recent achievements, and current controversies."
Ulf Hannerz, Stockholm University

"In this incomparable volume, Joan Vincent has brilliantly compiled the key texts in the anthropological study of politics. Suitable as a textbook for the beginning student and as a reference work for the professional academic, it will appeal to scholars in many different disciplines. Not only does this volume provide readers with a genealogy of an anthropological approach to politics, it introduces or reacquaints them with some of its most important contemporary contributors."
Akhil Gupta, Stanford University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Joan Vincent is Professor of Anthropology Emerita at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including Anthropology and Politics (1990, reissued 1995) and is currently working on an historical ethnography of the Irish famine.

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Table of Contents


Introduction (Joan Vincent).

Part I: Prelude: The Enlightenment and its Challenges.


Adam Ferguson, Civil Society (1767).

Adam Smith, Free-Market Policies (1776).

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace (1795), Universal History with Cosmopolitan Purpose (1784), and Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1797).

Henry Sumner Maine, The Effects of the Observation of India on European Thought (1887).

Lewis Henry Morgan, The Property Career of Mankind (1877).

Karl Marx, Spectres outside the Domain of Political Economy (1844).

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The World Market (1847).

James Mooney, The Dream of a Redeemer (1896).

Part II: Classics and Classics Revisited.


1. Nuer Politics: Structure and System (1940) (E.E. Evans-Pritchard).

2. Nuer Ethnicity Militarized (Sharon Elaine Hutchinson).

3. "The Bridge":Analysis of a Social Situation in Zululand (Max Gluckman).

4. "The Bridge" Revisited (Ronald Frankenberg).

5. Market Model, Class Structure and Consent: A Reconsideration of Swat Political Organization (Talal Asad).

6. The Troubles of Ranhamy Ge Punchirala (E. R. Leach).

7. Stratagems and Spoils (F. G. Bailey).

8. Passages, Margins, and Poverty: Religious Symbols of Communitas (Victor W. Turner).

9. Political Anthropology (Marc J. Swartz, Victor W. Turner, and Arthur Tuden).

10. New Proposals for Anthropologists (Kathleen Gough).

11. National Liberation (Eric R. Wolf).

Part III: Imperial Times, Colonial Places.


12. From the History of Colonial Anthropology to the Anthropology of Western Hegemony (Talal Asad).

13. East of Said (Richard G. Fox).

14. Perceptions of Protest: Defining the Dangerous in Colonial Sumatra (Ann Stoler).

15. Culture of Terror – Space of Death (Michael Taussig).

16. Images of the Peasant in the Consciousness of the Venezuelan Proletariat (William Roseberry).

17. Of Revelation and Revolution (Jean and John Comaroff).

18. Between Speech and Silence (Susan Gal).

19. Facing Power – Old Insights, New Questions (Eric R. Wolf).

20. Ethnographic Aspects of The World Capitalist System (June Nash).

Part IV: Cosmopolitics: Confronting a New Millennium.


21. The New World Disorder: (Benedict Anderson).

22. Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination (Arjun Appadurai).

23. Transnationalization, Socio-political Disorder, and Ethnification as Expressions of Declining Global Hegemony (Jonathan Friedman).

24. Deadly Developments and Phantasmagoric Representations (S. P. Reyna).

25. Modernity at the Edge of Empire (David Nugent).

26. Politics on the Periphery (Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing).

27. Flexible Citizenship among Chinese Cosmopolitans (Aihwa Ong).

28. Long-distance Nationalism Defined (Nina Glick Schiller and Georges Fouron).

29. Theorizing Socialism: A Prologue to the "Transition" (Katherine Verdery).

30. Marx Went Away but Karl Stayed Behind (Caroline Humphrey).

31. The Anti-politics Machine (James Ferguson).

32. Peasants against Globalization (Marc Edelman).

33. On Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from Below (Paul Farmer).

34. Anthropology and Politics: Commitment, Responsibility and the Academy (John Gledhill).

35. Thinking Academic Freedom in Gendered Post-coloniality (Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak).


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