23 Apr

Introducing Anthropology, What Makes Us Human?

Posted By Politybooks

The first edition of Introducing Anthropology was an exciting opportunity to bring the study of what makes us human to a wider audience. Much of the book’s success lies in its rich ethnographic evidence, suggested reading and related films along with interviews with anthropologists in the field.  These are designed to encourage the reader to develop an understanding of the contribution of the discipline but also, more importantly to begin to understand the vibrancy and relevance of the work of anthropologists around the world.

Since the first edition of Introducing Anthropology  came out in 2015, there have, of course been significant changes globally and locally, within and beyond anthropology which we have reflected in this new edition. To that end, we have included examples of new and exciting research in the fields of environment and technology as well as updating the chapters within the book.

We feel that anthropology should be at the forefront of raising awareness about the precarious situation that humans currently find themselves in. This new period of anthropocentrism and human self-obsession is explored in this second edition, as well as discussing the various culturally specific responses to the most pressing issues that humans face at the moment.

As new generations of anthropologists emerge, it is important that as a discipline we take an active stance in the promotion of equality for women, fighting to protect the environment and fighting against the many forms of injustices of the world. This book tries to inform and raise awareness of all these issues.

Once again, this edition begins with an exploration of the evolution of humans, including a selection of recent discoveries and innovations. Subsequent chapters include updated research and theories in kinship, material culture, social relations, ritual, boundaries, and many other cultural universals central to what makes us human. Each chapter reflects the concerns of the day, particularly the impact of environmental change (there is now a whole chapter dedicated to this) as well as new themes in anthropology such as the emergence of the anthropocene. The gender chapter also seeks to explore a broader range of theoretical debates and ethnographic evidence. The role of new forms of technologies are explored in greater depth and we have retained the feature of a globalisation link in each chapter. Each chapter was written in consultation with leading specialists in their field and we hope that we have retained a sense of the development of the discipline over time. Once again, we have been overwhelmed with support for our book by anthropologists all around the world. This edition includes additional contributions by many anthropologists from their recent fieldwork.

Furthermore, this edition reflects our desire to decolonise our writing and to represent a broad array of views and anthropological research from all over the world. We hope that interviews with a range of anthropologists in the field help demonstrate what a vibrant and exciting subject anthropology is, with contributions to fields such as NASA by Jack Stuster, the FGC debate by Saida Hodžić, Edward Liebow Executive director of AAA, Crystal Abidin on Internet celebrities and many other interesting contemporary topics and issues explored by anthropology.

Once again, this edition is designed for both teachers and students to use in the classroom and beyond, as well as those simply wishing to learn more about the subject. There are suggested discussion points as well as end of chapter assessments. These are aimed at the introductory level, pre university as well as undergraduate level. As with the first edition there is an extensive glossary with anthropological concepts. Most importantly,  we want our book to enthuse, engage and encourage its readers to want to know more about this exploration into what makes us human.


Laura Pountney delivers teaching training for secondary education and is the author of a number of anthropology and sociology textbooks. She teaches at Colchester Sixth Form College.

Tomislav Marić is Assistant Head Teacher at Bentley Wood High School.

The second edition of their book Introducing Anthropology is out now.