In this brilliant and profound study the distinguished American anthropologist Marvin Harris shows how the endless varieties of cultural behavior -- often so puzzling at first glance -- can be explained as adaptations to particular ecological conditions. His aim is to account for the evolution of cultural forms as Darwin accounted for the evolution of biological forms: to show how cultures adopt their characteristic forms in response to changing ecological modes. "[A] magisterial interpretation of the rise and fall of human cultures and societies." -- Robert Lekachman, Washington Post Book World "Its persuasive arguments asserting the primacy of cultural rather than genetic or psychological factors in human life deserve the widest possible audience." -- Gloria Levitas The New Leader "[An] original and...urgent theory about the nature of man and at the reason that human cultures take so many diverse shapes." -- The New Yorker "Lively and controversial." -- I. Bernard Cohen, front page, The New York Times Book Review
From handshakes and toasts to chant and genuflection, ritual pervades our social interactions and religious practices. Still, few of us could identify all of our daily and festal ritual behaviors, much less explain them to an outsider. Similarly, because of the variety of activities that qualify as ritual and their many contradictory yet, in many ways, equally legitimate interpretations, ritual seems to elude any systematic historical and comparative scrutiny. In this book, Catherine Bell offers a practical introduction to ritual practice and its study; she surveys the most influential theories of religion and ritual, the major categories of ritual activity, and the key debates that have shaped our understanding of ritualism. Bell refuses to nail down ritual with any one definition or understanding. Instead, her purpose is to reveal how definitions emerge and evolve and to help us become more familiar with the interplay of tradition, exigency, and self-expression that goes into constructing this complex social medium.
A comprehensive study of cannibalism in literature and film, spanning colonial fiction, Gothic texts and contemporary American horror. Amidst the sharp teeth and horrific appetite of the cannibal, this book examines real fears of over-consumerism and consumption that trouble an ever-growing modern world.
Folk Illnesses of Psychiatric and Anthropological Interest
Author: Ronald C. Simons
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
Category: Social Science
In the last few years there has been a great revival of interest in culture-bound psychiatric syndromes. A spate of new papers has been published on well known and less familiar syndromes, and there have been a number of attempts to put some order into the field of inquiry. In a review of the literature on culture-bound syndromes up to 1969 Yap made certain suggestions for organizing thinking about them which for the most part have not received general acceptance (see Carr, this volume, p. 199). Through the seventies new descriptive and conceptual work was scarce, but in the last few years books and papers discussing the field were authored or edited by Tseng and McDermott (1981), AI-Issa (1982), Friedman and Faguet (1982) and Murphy (1982). In 1983 Favazza summarized his understanding of the state of current thinking for the fourth edition of the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, and a symposium on culture-bound syndromes was organized by Kenny for the Eighth International Congress of Anthropology and Ethnology. The strong est impression to emerge from all this recent work is that there is no substantive consensus, and that the very concept, "culture-bound syndrome" could well use some serious reconsideration. As the role of culture-specific beliefs and prac tices in all affliction has come to be increasingly recognized it has become less and less clear what sets the culture-bound syndromes apart.
Described by Oliver Sacks as 'one of the best scientist-writers of our time', Robert M. Sapolsky here presents the human animal in all its quirkiness and diversity. In these remarkable essays, Sapolsky once again deploys his compassion and insights into the human condition to tell us who, why and how we are. Monkeyluv touches on themes such as sexuality, aggression, love, parenting, religion, ageing, and mental illness. He ponders such topics as our need to seek out beauty; why our preferences in food become fixed; why we are sexually attracted to one another; why Alzheimer's disease tends to be a post-menopausal phenomenon; and why grandmothers buying groceries for their grandchildren are part of nature's Darwinian logic.