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Foundations of Anthropological Theory: From Classical Antiquity to Early Modern Europe

Robert Launay (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-8775-6
312 pages
March 2010, ©2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Foundations of Anthropological Theory: From Classical Antiquity to Early Modern Europe (1405187751) cover image
Foundations of Anthropological Theory presents a selection of key texts that reflect the broad range of anthropological thought on human behavior, from Herodotus and Ibn Battuta to Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson.
  •  Enables the reader to situate the modern discipline of anthropology within the larger context of intellectual history
  •  Features key texts from the ancient and medieval worlds through to the Enlightenment
  • Considers the presumptive rights of Europeans to judge the inherent moral worth of non-Western civilizations
  • Provides fascinating insights into the ways historians, philosophers, missionaries, and even writers of fiction have made valuable contributions to modern anthropological inquiry
See More
Introduction.

The Ancient World.

Herodotus, Histories (selections).

Xenophon, The Education of Cyrus (selections).

Aristotle, Politics (selections).

Tacitus, Germania (selections).

The Medieval World.

Europe – Journeys to the East:.

William of Rubruck, Journal of his embassy to the Mongols (selections).

Marco Polo, Travels (selections).

Sir John Mandeville, Travels (selections).

The Muslim World :.

Ibn Battuta, Travels (selections).

Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah (Introduction to World History), (selections).

The Renaissance.

New Spain:.

Bernardino de Sahagun, General History of the Things of New Spain (selections).

Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, Chronicle of the Narváez Expedition (selections).

Bartolomeo de las Casas, The Devastation of the Indies (selections).

Garcilaso Inka de la Vega, Royal Commentaries on the Inca of Peru (selections).

Antarctic France:.

Jean de Léry, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil (selections).

Michel de Montaigne, “Of Cannibals”.

Towards a comparative theory:.

Jose de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies (selections).

Jean Bodin, Method for the Comprehension of History (selections).

La Popelinière, “Letter to de Thou”.

The Seventeenth Century.

Matteo Ricci/Nicolas Trigault, Description of China (selections).

Paul Le Jeune, Journey among the Montagnais (selections).

Jean Chardin, Travels to Persia (selections).

William Dampier, A new voyage around the globe(selections).

The Enlightenment.

Ancients and Moderns:.

Sir William Temple, “Of Heroic Virtues”.

Bernard de Fontenelle, “The Origin of Fables”.

Exotic letters:.

Montesquieu, Persian Letters (selections).

Françoise de Grafigny, Letters of a Peruvian Woman (selections).

Dialogues with the Savages:.

Lahontan, Dialogue between the Author and a Savage of Good Sense (selections).

Diderot, Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville.

Comparative Perspectives.

France :.

François-Joseph Lafitau, Customs of the American Savages Compared to the Customs of the Earliest Times (selections).

Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws (selections).

Voltaire, Commentary on the Spirit of Laws (selections).

Essai sur les Moeurs (selections).

Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (selections).

Scotland:.

David Hume, The Natural History of Religion (selections).

Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence (selections).

Adam Ferguson, Essay on the History of Civil Society (selections)

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Robert Launay is Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University. He is the author of Traders Without Trade: Responses to Change in Two Dyula Communities, Beyond the Stream: Islam and Society in a West African Town, which won the Amaury Talbot Prize, and numerous articles on the anthropology of Islam and Muslim societies in West Africa. He has written extensively on both the contemporary and early history of anthropology, and is completing a new book, Savages, Despots, and Romans: The Urge to Compare and the Origins of Anthropology.
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  •  Enables the reader to situate the modern discipline of anthropology within the larger context of intellectual history
  •  Features key texts from the ancient and medieval worlds through to the Enlightenment
  • Considers the presumptive rights of Europeans to judge the inherent moral worth of non-Western civilizations
  • Provides fascinating insights into the ways historians, philosophers, missionaries, and even writers of fiction have made valuable contributions to modern anthropological inquiry
See More
“This splendid selection demonstrates the issues to which contemporary anthropology is heir, and thus serves as an insightful reminder that the topics raised are of more than mere historical concern.”
Lawrence Rosen, Princeton University

Robert Launay’s critical introduction and carefully selected texts brilliantly portray how anthropology’s predecessors, European and non-European, framed central issues in understanding their own and other societies. Foundations of Anthropological Theory is must reading – and also a pleasure.
Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College

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