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Hardcover Culture as Given, Culture as Choice Book

ISBN: 1577662695

ISBN13: 9781577662693

Culture as Given, Culture as Choice

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

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Book Overview

This creatively written introductory work is full of insights about how humanity’s defining adaptation has evolved and functions. What makes van der Elst’s approach uniquely engaging is his focus on... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

2 ratings

Sorely needed, but not perfect

Textbook publishers have produced a number of dull, formulaic and encyclopedic introductions to cultural anthropology that are pretty much all the same. Moreover, they make copious use of color, graphs, diagrams and photographs that raise the price unnecessarily. Not to mention coming out with new editions every other year to undercut the used book market. I do not want to assign a $90 coffee table encyclopedia for a course, so I have been searching for a cheap, basic, but engaging alternative. This is the best I have found as yet. Van der Elst covers the basics well enough - and leaves the instructor room to elaborate in class. His writing style is very person and intimate, as if he were writing directly to you. This makes it, in my opinion, a much more interesting read than a conventional text. The main point of this book - and unlike other texts, it has a point - is that coming to understand the nature of culture can be personally liberating. This was perhaps the main message of Franz Boas, concerning "the shackles of tradition," as well as Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. Yes, the book is very opinionated. I believe this is intentional. He means to be provoking. Nothing says we have to agree with him on every point, but he gives us many important questions to discuss, particularly about the direction of our own (American) culture. Most of all, what kind of culture do we want? I used this in an introductory, general education course on World Cultures last spring. The students seemed to appreciate it.

Great Introduction to Anthropology

We used this book in my Cultural Anthropology class and I really enjoyed it. Its the perfect introduction to anthropology, covering all the basics and leaving the reader much more interested in the field. The sections that interested me most were those on language, religion, and the search for knowledge. I definately recommend this book. The only reason I gave it 4 and not 5 stars is because some parts got a little boring. I personally thought the two chapters on kinship dragged a little.
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