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  1. Citation for the entire book
  2. More Books by Alan Barnard & Jonathan Spencer
  3. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology
  4. Cultural anthropology
  5. Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology

By the late s, political anthropology was a flourishing subfield: in there were two hundred anthropologists listing the subdicipline as one of their areas of interests, and a quarter of all British anthropologists listed politics as a topic that they studied. Political anthropology developed in a very different way in the United States. There, authors such as Morton Fried , Elman Service , and Eleanor Leacock took a Marxist approach and sought to understand the origins and development of inequality in human society.

Marx and Engels had drawn on the ethnographic work of Morgan, and these authors now extended that tradition. In particular, they were interested in the evolution of social systems over time. It was a meaningful development as anthropologists started to work in situations where the colonial system was dismantling.

The focus on conflict and social reproduction was carried over into Marxist approaches that came to dominate French political anthropology from the s. Interest in anthropology grew in the s. A session on anthropology was organized at the Ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in , the proceedings of which were eventually published in as Political Anthropology: The State of the Art.

The s also witnessed the emergence of Europe as a category of anthropological investigation. The turn toward the study of complex society made anthropology inherently more political. First, it was no longer possible to carry out fieldwork in say, Spain, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Algeria or India without taking into account the way in which all aspects of local society were tied to state and market.

Contrary to what is often heard from colleagues in the political and social sciences, anthropologists have for nearly half a century been very careful to link their ethnographic focus to wider social, economic and political structures. This does not mean to abandon an ethnographic focus on very local phenomena, the care for detail.

Citation for the entire book

In a more direct way, the turn towards complex society also signified that political themes increasingly were taken up as the main focus of study, and at two main levels. First of all, anthropologists continued to study political organization and political phenomena that lay outside the state-regulated sphere as in patron-client relations or tribal political organization. Second of all, anthropologists slowly started to develop a disciplinary concern with states and their institutions and on the relationship between formal and informal political institutions.

An anthropology of the state developed, and it is a most thriving field today. There is today a rich canon of anthropological studies of the state see for example Abeles From the s a heavy focus on ethnicity and nationalism developed.

More Books by Alan Barnard & Jonathan Spencer

This made anthropology even more obviously political. Nationalism is to some extent simply state-produced culture, and to be studied as such. And ethnicity is to some extent simply the political organization of cultural difference Barth He sees the invention of the printing press as the main spark, enabling shared national emotions, characteristics, events and history to be imagined through common readership of newspapers.


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By now, several ethnographies have been carried out in the international organizations like the EU studying the fonctionnaires as a cultural group with special codes of conduct, dressing, interaction etc. Increasingly, anthropological fieldwork is today carried out inside bureaucratic structures or in companies. And bureaucracy can in fact only be studied by living in it — it is far from the rational system we and the practitioners like to think, as Weber himself had indeed pointed out long ago Herzfeld [6].

The concern with political institutions has also fostered a focus on institutionally driven political agency. There is now an anthropology of policy making Shore and Wright Political actors like states, governmental institutions, NGOs, International Organizations or business corporations are here the primary subjects of analysis.

Development anthropology is tied to global political economy and economic anthropology as it concerns the management and redistribution of both ideational and real resources see for example Hart Zea Reid rated it really liked it May 15, Robert rated it really liked it Nov 24, Vanessa rated it it was amazing May 11, Andy rated it it was amazing Dec 20, Simon rated it it was ok May 16, Maya rated it really liked it May 13, Daniel rated it it was amazing Apr 18, Rhea Watson rated it it was amazing Mar 13, Takkino Felduchi rated it really liked it Jun 03, Edwin Tunggawan rated it liked it Oct 27, Bhandit Grivijitra rated it it was amazing Nov 20, Lauren rated it really liked it May 27, Jordan rated it it was ok Dec 23, Ana rated it really liked it Jul 08, Aoife rated it really liked it Jan 31, Mira rated it it was amazing Jan 25, Catarina Goncalves rated it liked it Feb 03, Eleesha rated it really liked it Jun 30, Shivangi rated it it was amazing Jul 16, Steven Drake rated it did not like it Jul 29, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

About Alan Barnard. Alan Barnard.

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology

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