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Polity publishes a number of textbooks and original works in the fields of anthropology and archaeology. Our authors include some of the leading figures in these fields, such as Clifford Geertz, Marilyn Strathern, Henrietta Moore, Pierre Bourdieu, Maurice Godelier, Daniel Miller and Ian Hodder.
Miller, Consumption and its Consequences
This is a book for those looking for different answers to some of today’s most fundamental questions. What is a consumer society? Does being a consumer make us less authentic or more materialistic? How and why do we shop? How should we understand the economy? Is our seemingly insatiable desire for goods destroying the planet? Can we reconcile curbs on consumption with goals such as reducing poverty and social inequality?
Wherry, The Culture of Markets
"Fred Wherry elegantly introduces students to the cultural approach in economic sociology. Wearing his theoretical sophistication lightly, Wherry provides dozens of pithy illustrations from cutting-edge empirical research. This classy essay is deceptively simple. It provides the first synthetic construction of the cultural-economic field."
Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University
The Culture of Markets offers a comprehensive introduction to the puzzles found in studies of markets and to the ways that cultural analyses address those puzzles. The clarity of the arguments will make this a welcome resource for upper-level students of cultural sociology, economic sociology, and business/marketing.
Boltanski, Love and Justice as Competences
"This book is the first major sociological study of denunciation, that most ordinary act present in personal and public life. Boltanski is the leading sociologist of his generation, and this book's virtuosity shows why."
Eva Illouz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
In Love and Justice as Competences, Boltanski lays out a highly original framework for analysing the action of individuals as they pursue their day-to-day lives. For anyone who wants to understand what a critical sociology might mean today, this book is an essential text.
"Wieviorka lays out the case for thinking of "evil" as "social", as opposed to theological … A work to facilitate discussion."
If we wish to live in an open, democratic world in which each individual constructs his or her own experience and leads his or her own life in a spirit of respect for and solidarity with others, then we must understand the processes that lead in totally different directions, negating the individual's subjectivity and moral and physical integrity. Michel Wieviorka invites us to do just that in this highly topical and engaging book.
Fournier, Émile Durkheim: A Biography
"Fournier is the greatest living scholar of French sociology. With this work, he gives us a new Durkheim, a man broiled in the political controversies of his time, an academic patriarch who laid the foundations for a more cultural sociology."
Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University
Meticulously documented, Marcel Fournier’s new biography sheds fresh light on Durkheim's personality and character, his relationship with Judaism, his family life, his relations with friends and collaborators, his political and administrative responsibilities and his political views.
Williams, War and Conflict in Africa
"Exceptionally succinct and useful, War & Conflict in Africa (provides) an accessible and inspirational companion for anyone who wants to survey the state of the field."
Journal of Peace Research
Paul Williams offers the first comparative assessment of more than two hundred armed conflicts which took place in Africa between 1990 and 2009. Taking a broad comparative approach to examine the political contexts in which these wars occurred, he explores the key ingredients that provoked them and the major international responses undertaken to deliver lasting peace.
Corbridge et al, India Today
"If you want a smart, pithy and extremely well-informed take on the central issues facing India today, as well as a guide to all the main debates, then this is the book you need."
Steven Wilkinson, Yale University
Twenty years ago India was still generally thought of as an archetypal developing country, home to the largest number of poor people of any country in the world. Now India is being feted as an economic power-house. How and why has this historic transformation come about? And what are its implications for the people of India, for Indian society and politics? These are the big questions addressed in this book by three scholars who have lived and researched in different parts of India during the period of this great transformation.
Muchembled, A History of Violence
"This is one of Robert Muchembled's best books, a lucid and persuasive combination of broad sweep with vivid detail and of synthesis with original research."
Peter Burke, University of Cambridge
Kaufman, Love Online
The internet has changed the face of romantic encounters. In a world where anything is possible, a potential date - whether it be a one-night stand or the start of a more lasting relationship - can be just a click away. Anyone looking for love online can throw off their inhibitions and can say what they have never dared to before.
"In Archaeological Theory Today, Ian Hodder has assembled a fine collection of papers that, taken together, present a vibrant and exciting overview of current theoretical trends. Reading this volume, one is struck not just by the diversity of archaeological theory today, but by its breadth, depth, and sheer intellectual vitality. This book is not just an overview of current thinking, but an eloquent statement of the importance of archaeology as a modern human science."
Matthew Johnson, Northwestern University
Hann and Hart , Economic Anthropology
"Hann and Hart offer the most sophisticated history of economic anthropology that I have seen. Using a humanistic perspective, their descriptions of the 'prehistory' of economic anthropology and of the socialist and postsocialist eras are neatly joined to an account of research in the twentieth century."
Stephen Gudeman, University of Minnesota
Agier, Managing the Undesirables
"An impassioned and tireless explorer of 'useless' and hence 'undesirable' populations, Michel Agier asks here about their future: how can they be returned to the human family, brought back from non-existence into the social world, from the camp to the town, from a life without time into history? How can they rediscover a place on the map of the world, and pass from the status of reject to that of subject? Urgent and indispensable reading for all who reflect on action to be taken, or are called on to take such action."
Ouroussoff, Wall Street at War
"This is the most original analysis of the financial crisis I have seen. It is a work of economic philosophy supported and generated by an ethnographic method that is both classical and unusually dialogical."
Keith Hart, Goldsmiths, University of London
Bourdieu, On Television
A surprising bestseller when it was first published in France, this little book by Pierre Bourdieu offers a brilliant critique of television and its consequences for social and political life.
"This unremitting assault on the impact and pretensions of television demolishes conventional arguments."
Times Literary Supplement
Danny Miller and Zuzana Búriková, Au Pair
This is the first book devoted to the lives of au pairs, their leisure as well as their work time. We see this world from the eyes of the visitors, and their unique perspective on what lies at the heart of our family life. After a year of careful research, this book shows how most of our assumptions and expectations about au pairs are wrong.
Miller, The Comfort of Things
"A wonderful and unusual antidote to the fear that humanity and individuality is losing its battle with modern consumerism. In his book, even the most trivial product of consumerism can be rendered almost magical by its owners."
“This is a unique book that comes from a unique scholar. In this one volume, one can see the power of material culture as a means to study culture and society more generally. The specifics are informative and the larger formulations profound. The writing is consistently clear – at times, endearing – and the content brilliant.”
Harvey Molotch, New York University
Jean-Claude Kaufmann, The Meaning of Cooking
In this rich and highly entertaining book the French sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann takes us into the kitchens and dining rooms and deciphers the meaning of food, cooking and eating in the lives of families and couples.
Gareth Dale, Karl Polanyi
"This book is a complex and sophisticated analysis of a complex and sophisticated thinker. It is both a fair and detailed exposition of all of Polanyi's writings and a careful evaluation of the major criticisms of Polanyi."
Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University
Goody, Eurasian Miracle
In this short book Jack Goody systematically dismantles the Eurocentric view of the world. He argues that we need to look for a Eurasian miracle that went back to the Urban Revolution of the Bronze Age, that affected the Near East, India and China well before Europe and that was much advanced by the adoption of writing.
Wacquant, Urban Outcasts
In this book, Loïc Wacquant reveals that urban marginality is not everywhere the same, as the reader is taken inside the dilapidated black ghetto of inner Chicago and the deindustrializing banlieu of outer Paris.
Moore, The Subject of Anthropology
"A very well written book on an important topic by one of the most gifted anthropologists of her generation ... that is bound to become a classic text in the emergent cross-road between psychoanalysis, anthropology and feminist studies."
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Burke, Cultural Hybridity
The period in which we live is marked by increasingly frequent and intense cultural encounters of all kinds. In this concise book, leading historian Peter Burke considers these fascinating and contested phenomena, ranging over theories, practices, processes and events in a manner that is as wide-ranging and vibrant as the topic at hand
Hammoudi, A Season in Mecca
"It is as much a subtle, complex meditation as it is an example of the 'art of reportage'. It is a commentary on one Arab intellectual's modern dilemmas as well as on the hajj as he experienced it ... this struggle gives the writing much of its deep interest."
London Review of Books
Livi Bacci, El Dorado in the Marshes
The search for gold and for the mythical El Dorado gripped the imagination of the conquistadors from the beginning of the sixteenth century. This beautifully illustrated book offers an enthralling account of the Spanish search for gold in the Americas and the myth of 'the gilded man'.
Livi Bacci, Conquest
"An impressive argument for a more complex way of understanding the conquest of what is now Latin America than the single-cause explanations that have been dominant for the past several decades. The translation is lucid and easy to follow, and the generous contemporary illustrations of the life of the Indios at the time of conquest further enrich the text."
Zeitlin, The Historical Muhammad
"This book will be of value to serious students of Islamic history as well as educated readers generally. Both groups will be well able to navigate the historical and historiographical landscapes of the rise of Islam - with the foundational qualities that enabled it to develop into a world religion. The pursuit of certainty in discerning and understanding Muhammad's historical biography and the rise of his religious movement is ongoing, and Irving Zeitlin has provided a clear, balanced, and plausible account using traditional sources and modern scholarly theories and interpretations."
Frederick M. Denny, University of Colorado at Boulder
Behringer, Witches and Witch-Hunts: A global History
"Wolfgang Behringer establishes the importance of a truly global history of witchcraft. Setting aside familiar Western notions, he deploys a more comprehensive definition of witchcraft as the malicious use of evil magic. He brilliantly sketches the history of European witch-hunting and uses this to illuminate the twentieth-century struggle against witches in many parts of the post-colonial world such as South America, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. This book marks a real advance in our understanding of witchcraft, and a remarkable and astute blending of anthropology with history."
H. C. Erik Midelfort, C. Julian Bishko Professor of History and Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Inglis, Clifford Geertz
"Fred Inglis's biography is useful and charming. It is useful because it contains so many facts, and because it is perhaps the most detailed intellectual analysis of Geertz's work now available."
Times Literary Supplement
Moore, Feminism and Anthropology
"I do not know of any other work which gives one such a sense of the scope and substance of feminist scholarship within anthropology. This is no abstract debate about possibilities: with rare intelligence Moore sanely and superbly charts what has already been done and consequently what lies ahead. The book's breadth of vision is generous, its approach authoritative, and its final critique of the limitations as well as the promises of feminist anthropology resounding"
Marilyn Strathern, University of Manchester
Sørensen, Gender Archaeology
'For a penetrating analysis of the state of gender archaeology today, and an extended discussion of the ways in which archaeology can best contribute to understanding gender, this book is extremely important ... Clear and cogent, this book will be of interest to all archaeologists because of its emphasis on the materiality of gender.'
Journal of Anthropological Research
This major new textbook explores the relations between gender and archaeology, providing an innovative and important account of how material culture is used in the construction of gender.