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Anthropology in the Public Arena: Historical and Contemporary Contexts

ISBN: 978-1-118-47547-8
248 pages
April 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
Anthropology in the Public Arena: Historical and Contemporary Contexts (111847547X) cover image


This articulate and authoritative survey of both the popular and academic trends in anthropology demonstrates the broad relevance of anthropological knowledge and argues for a more inclusive conception of the discipline that engages the public imagination.

  • Demonstrates the evolving social contexts of British anthropological theory and practice from the mid-19th century
  • Highlights the importance of popular anthropology in forming and sustaining the professional discipline
  • Explores the past and present cross-fertilization of anthropologists, scientists and prominent literary figures
  • Assesses the pioneering efforts online to advance the role of anthropology in public debates
  • Appeals to a broader readership interested in cultural and intellectual history
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments x

1 Beating the Bounds of Discipline? Innovation at the Margins and Beyond 1

2 John Layard, “Study of a Failure”: An Innovative Integrated Approach from the Psychoanalyst 58

3 Geoffrey Gorer, “Britain’s Margaret Mead”: Blending Anthropology and Travelogue 81

4 Robert Graves: Empowering Anthropological Modes of Explanation in Myth and Ritual 110

5 Mass Observation: A Radical, Popular Ethnography of the People, by the People, and for the People 135

6 The Literary Image of the Anthropologist 158

7 Parting Comments: Public Interest, Multiple Anthropologies 184

Bibliography 193

Index 228

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Author Information

Jeremy MacClancy is professor in social anthropology at Oxford Brookes University, UK, and director of the university’s Anthropology Centre for Conservation, Environment and Development (ACCEnD). His research has included major studies of the cultural dimensions of nationalism in the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, and a prize-winning analysis of the politicized development of a Basque ‘cuisine’ in northern Spain. Prof MacClancy is author and editor of books including Consuming Culture (1992), Popularizing Anthropology (1996), Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines (2002), and Expressing Identities in the Basque Arena (2007).
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“A critical insider, Jeremy MacClancy celebrates maverick anthropologists who transgressed academic frontiers, and urges his colleagues to engage the public. This is an entertaining, original and provocative book.”
Adam Kuper, Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge

“Jeremy MacClancy insightfully expands the history of anthropology beyond the confines of the academy, showing us how a collection of poets, popularizers, critics, surrealists, neo-Freudians, and iconoclast savants shaped anthropology’s imagination.” 
David Price, St. Martin's College

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