Skip to main content

Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology, 3rd Edition



Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology, 3rd Edition

Carol Delaney, Deborah Kaspin (With)

ISBN: 978-1-118-86886-7 February 2017 Wiley-Blackwell 424 Pages


The third edition of Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology, the highly praised innovative approach to introducing aspects of cultural anthropology to students, features a series of revisions, updates, and new material.
  • Offers a refreshing alternative to introductory anthropology texts by challenging students to think in new ways and apply cultural learnings to their own lives
  • Chapters explore key anthropological concepts of human culture including: language, the body, food, and time, and provide an array of cultural examples in which to examine them
  • Incorporates new material reflecting the authors’ research in Malawi, New England, and Spain
  • Takes account of the latest information on such topical concerns as nuclear waste, sports injuries, the World Trade Center memorial, the food pyramid, fashion trends, and electronic media
  • Includes student exercises, selected reading and additional suggested readings

Acknowledgments xi

1 Disorientation and Orientation 1

Introduction; how culture provides orientation in the world; what is culture and how do anthropologists investigate it? Learning to think anthropologically.

Exercises 24

Reading: Laura Bohannan, “Shakespeare in the Bush” 27

2 Spatial Locations 33

How do we situate or locate ourselves in space? Are notions of space “universal” or are they shaped by culture? This chapter explores these questions from macro to micro contexts, including discussion of maps, nations, segregation, public spaces, invisible spaces, and that space that is no place: cyberspace.

Exercises 65

Reading: Sue Bridwell Beckham, “The American Front Porch: Women’s Liminal Space” 67

3 All We Have Is Time 79

Time is another major way we orient ourselves. What does it mean to be on time, out of time, or in time? This chapter discusses different cultural notions of time, the development of measuring time and clocks, the construction of the Western calendar and its rootedness in a sacred worldview, and birthdays and other markers of time.

Exercises 109

Reading: Ellen Goodman, “Time Is for Savoring” 111

4 Language: We Are What We Speak 113

Is language quintessentially human or do some other animals possess it? Communication versus language. Writing. The symbolic function and metaphor: Different languages, different worlds? The social function: What information do you obtain from a person’s speech? How are race, class, and gender inflected in language?

Exercises 145

Reading: Ursula LeGuin, “She Unnames Them” 148

Reading: Alan Dundes, “Seeing Is Believing” 149

5 Relatives and Relations 155

Notions of kinship and kinship theory: To whom are we related and how? Is there any truth to the idea that “blood is thicker than water”? What constitutes a family? This chapter also discusses different meanings of friendship, romantic relationships, and parent–child relationships.

Exercises 185

Reading: A. M. Hocart, “Kinship Systems” 188

6 Our Bodies, Our Selves 193

Are we our bodies or do we have bodies? Different concepts of the body, the gendered body, the physical body, the social body. Techniques and modifications of the body. Tattoos. Body parts and organ transplants. Traffic in body parts. Body image, advertisements, and eating disorders. Bodies before and after death.

Exercises 227

Reading: Horace Miner, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” 230

Reading: Deborah Kaspin, “Women Who Breed Like Rabbits and Other Mythical Beasts: The Cultural Context of Family Planning in Malawi” 233

7 Food for Thought 239

What constitutes food? What makes a meal? What does it mean to say that “food is love”? Relation of food to the environment. Fast food, slow food, genetically modified food (“Frankenfood”). Food and sex. Food and civility.

Food and religion. Cooking.

Exercises 277

Reading: Jill Dubisch, “You Are What You Eat: Religious Aspects of the Health Food Movement” 279

8 Clothing Matters 289

Clothing does more than cover the body; it is also a cultural index of age, gender, occupation, and class. Is it then true that “clothes make the man”? Haute couture, sweat shops, clothing, and the economy.

Exercises 330

Reading: Julio Ramón Ribeyro, “Alienation (An Instructive Story with a Footnote)” 333

9 VIPs: Very Important People, Places, and Performances 341

Certain people, places, events, and cultural practices become iconic; they embody cultural myths or epitomize cultural values. Why are certain people described as “larger than life”? Why are certain places sites of pilgrimage or reverence? The global circulation of such icons.

Exercises 382

Reading: Clifford Geertz, “The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man” 385

Index 397