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The author of the book: Marvin Harris
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Reader ratings: 7.6
Edition: AltaMira Press,U.S.
Date of issue: November 28th 2000
ISBN: 0759101337
ISBN 13: 9780759101333
Language: English

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The best known, most often cited history of anthropological theory is finally available in paperback! First published in 1968, Harris's book has been cited in over 1,000 works and is one of the key documents explaining cultural materialism, the theory associated with Harris's work. This updated edition included the complete 1968 text plus a new introduction by the author, which discusses the impact of the book and highlights some of the major trends in anthropological theory since its original publication. RAT, as it is affectionately known to three decades of graduate students, comprehensively traces the history of anthropology and anthropological theory, culminating in a strong argument for the use of a scientific, behaviorally-based, etic approach to the understanding of human culture known as cultural materialism. Despite its popularity and influence on anthropological thinking, RAT has never been available in paperback. . . until now. It is an essential volume for the library of all anthropologists, their graduate students, and other theorists in the social sciences. Booknews Harris (anthropology, U. of Florida) was at Columbia University when the original edition was published by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company in 1968. He argues that the basic principle of a macro-theory of sociocultural evolution is already known, and resembles the kind of principle that has governed research in evolutionary biology since the time of Darwin. His survey of the history of the theory introduced some concepts and terms that have becoming central to anthropology. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) More Reviews and Recommendations Table Of Contents: Introduction to the Updated EditionAcknowledgmentsAbout the Author1Introduction12Enlightenment83Reaction and Recovery: The Early Nineteenth Century534Rise of Racial Determinism805Spencerism1086Evolutionism: Methods1427The Evolutionists: Results1808Dialectical Materialism2179Historical Particularism: Boas2


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Ebook The Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture read Online! American anthropologist Marvin Harris was born in Brooklyn, New York. A prolific writer, he was highly influential in the development of cultural materialism. In his work he combined Karl Marx's emphasis on the forces of production with Malthus's insights on the impact of demographic factors on other parts of the sociocultural system. Labeling demographic and production factors as infrastructure, Harris posited these factors as key in determining a society's social structure and culture.

Harris' earliest work began in the Boasian tradition of descriptive anthropological fieldwork, but his fieldwork experiences in Mozambique in the late 1950s caused him to shift his focus from ideological features of culture, toward behavioral aspects. His 1968 history of anthropological thought, The Rise of Anthropological Theory critically examined hundreds of years of social thought with the intent of constructing a viable nomothetic understanding of human culture that Harris came to call cultural materialism.

Cultural materialism incorporated and refined Marx's categories of superstructure and base; Harris modified and amplified such core Marxist concepts as means of production and exploitation, but Harris rejected two key aspects of Marxist thought: the dialectic, which Harris attributed to an intellectual vogue of Marx’s time; and, unity of theory and practice, which Harris regarded as an inappropriate and damaging stance for social scientists. Harris’ inclusion of demographic dynamics as determinant factors in sociocultural evolution also contrasted with Marx’s rejection of population as a causal element.

Marvin Harris’ early contributions to major theoretical issues include his revision of economic surplus theory in state formation. He also became well known for formulating a materialist explanation for the treatment of “ Cattle in religions” in Indian culture. Along with Michael Harner, Harris is one of the scholars most associated with the suggestion that Aztec cannibalism occurred, and was the result of protein deficiency in the Aztec diet. An explanation appears in Harris' book Cannibals and Kings. Harris also invoked the human quest for animal protein to explain Yanomamo warfare, contradicting ethnographer Napoleon Chagnon’s sociobiological explanation involving innate male human aggressiveness.

Several other publications by Harris examine the cultural and material roots of dietary traditions in many cultures, including Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture (1975); Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture (1998 - originally titled The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig) and his co-edited volume, Food and Evolution: Toward a Theory of Human Food Habits (1987).

Harris’ Why Nothing Works: The Anthropology of Daily Life (1981 - Originally titled America Now: the Anthropology of a Changing Culture) applies concepts from cultural materialism to the explanation of such social developments in late twentieth century United States as inflation, the entry of large numbers of women into the paid labor force, marital instability, and shoddy products.

His Our Kind: who we are, where we came from, where we are going (1990) surveys the broad sweep of human physical and cultural evolution, offering provocative explanations of such subjects as human gender and sexuality and the origins of inequality. Finally, Harris’ 1979 work, Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture, updated and re-released in 2001, offers perhaps the most comprehensive statement of cultural materialism.

Over the course of his professional life, Harris drew both a loyal following and a considerable amount of criticism. He became a regular fixture at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association where he would subject scholars to intense questioning from the floor, podium, or bar. He is considered a generalist, who


Reviews of the The Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture


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Something a favorite author wrote.

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A useful book to free yourself from negative emotions and joy.

AMELIA

Interesting look on the other side

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A book that impressed me to the depths of my soul.

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