Anthropology in the Public Arena: Historical and Contemporary Contexts

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9781118475478: Anthropology in the Public Arena: Historical and Contemporary Contexts

This articulate and authoritative survey of both the popular and academic trends in anthropology demonstrates the broad relevance of anthropological knowledge and argues for a more inclusive conception of the discipline that engages the public imagination.

  • Demonstrates the evolving social contexts of British anthropological theory and practice from the mid-19th century
  • Highlights the importance of popular anthropology in forming and sustaining the professional discipline
  • Explores the past and present cross-fertilization of anthropologists, scientists and prominent literary figures
  • Assesses the pioneering efforts online to advance the role of anthropology in public debates
  • Appeals to a broader readership interested in cultural and intellectual history

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From the Back Cover:

This detailed survey of the evolution of anthropology in Britain is also a spirited defence of the public as well as professional role of the discipline. The author argues for a broader vision of the value of anthropological knowledge that allows for the creative contributions of popular scientists and literary figures who often capture the public imagination and add much to our knowledge of human social relations. Informed by original archival research and engaging narratives of the larger-than-life personalities of public intellectuals, the author reveals the contributions of neglected but crucial figures such as John Layard, Geoffrey Gorer, Robert Graves, and the originators of Mass Observation, today’s online repository of anthropological data.

MacClancy is guided by the notion that anthropology’s continued dynamism requires an alliance of interests, popular and academic, that will recover marginalized studies and recognize the value of contributions from outside the university research community. Its synthesis of diverse topics illuminates an anthropology that enriches the popular cultural discourse and serves as a versatile tool for exploring pressing issues of social organization and development. The reframed narrative of British anthropological history that emerges is as integral to the future of the subject as it is informative about its past.

About the Author:

Jeremy MacClancy is professor in social anthropology at Oxford Brookes University, UK, and director of the university’s Anthropology Centre for Conservation, Environment and Development (ACCEnD). His research has included major studies of the cultural dimensions of nationalism in the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, and a prize-winning analysis of the politicized development of a Basque ‘cuisine’ in northern Spain. Prof MacClancy is author and editor of books including Consuming Culture (1992), Popularizing Anthropology (1996), Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines (2002), and Expressing Identities in the Basque Arena (2007).

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