Synopses & Reviews
Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology proposes an innovative approach to understanding culture as a constructed phenomenon open to investigation of its implicit premises and explicit forms.
This exciting book offers a refreshing hands-on alternative to more traditional textbooks by challenging readers to think about culture in new ways and to apply these ideas to their own lives. Investigating Culture teaches students to think like anthropologists by encouraging them to compare their own cultural experiences with that of anthropologists who enter a culture specifically to study it. Approaching the study of culture or cultural anthropology in this way trains students to confront the reflexive nature of anthropology early on and to distance themselves from the inherent flaws of studying the “exotic Other.” Investigating Culture is divided into nine chapters that focus on the variety of ways that humans orient themselves --- in space and time, by means of language, the body, the structures of everyday life, and the symbols of religion and public ritual. Each chapter includes an introduction outlining the central issues, selected classic readings, examples from a variety of cultures, suggested additional readings, and a series of exercises designed to make the analysis of culture personally accessible.
"Engaging, intelligent, and intellectually generous, Investigating Culture
introduces students to cultural anthropology --- and reintroduces all of us to our everyday worlds as seen through ethnographic eyes. Delaney brings together acute observation, revelatory projects, telling and appropriate comparisons, and an imaginative and stimulating range of readings. A book I’m eager to teach!" Don Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz; President of American Anthropological Association 2001--03
"A splendid achievement. Carol Delaney has written an absorbing and strikingly original introduction to anthropology. Investigating Culture takes students on a self-reflexive journey around the world and back home again. Courageous, conversational, scholarly, and engaging." Carol Stack, University of California, Berkeley
"Investigating Culture will be a beacon for the discipline, and a wonderful point of entry to the field for the beginner." Steven Piker, Swarthmore College
"A wonderful teaching resource!" Julia Lynn Offen, University of Pennsylvania
"[A] unique, timely introduction to anthropology…. Many will appreciate Delaney's fresh and innovative approach to tried and true anthropological concepts. Many will also appreciate her more contemporary topical discussions---such as those on space, the body, or clothing---which are much more relevant to students' experience. ... Delaney's text represents what seems to be an important shift in contemporary introductory textbooks, one that recognizes the increased multicultural sophistication of today's student. In that sense, it also represents a move away from the kind of conventional anthropological pedagogy…. Students…need textbooks that encourage new levels of understanding which couch their complex experiences within more complex frameworks like history, politics, and economy. In my view, Delaney's book---well-written, well-thought-out, and germane---goes a long way toward narrowing the gap between conventional and more relevant approaches to teaching anthropology." ---The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
offers an innovative approach to understanding culture as a constructed phenomenon open to investigation of its implicit premises and explicit forms.
- Provides a refreshing alternative to traditional textbooks by challenging students to think in new ways and to apply these ideas to their own lives
- Focuses on the ways that humans orient themselves, e.g., in space and time, according to language, food, the body, and the symbols provided by public myth and ritual
- Each chapter includes: an introduction framing the central issues, examples from a range of cultures, a selected reading or two, additional suggested readings, and exercises
About the Author
Carol Delaney is Associate Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University. She is author of The Seed and The Soil: Gender and Cosmology in Turkish Village Society (1991) and Abraham on Trial: The Social Legacy of Biblical Myth (1998), and is co-editor of Naturalizing Power: Essays in Feminist Cultural Analysis (1995, with Sylvia Yanagisako).
Table of Contents
1. Disorientation and Orientation.
Selected Reading: Shakespeare in the Bush: Laura Bohannan.
Selected Reading: The American Front Porch: Women’s Liminal Space: Sue Bridwell Beckham.
Selected Reading: Time is for Savoring: Ellen Goodman.
Selected Reading: The Original Affluent Society: Marshall Sahlins.