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Core Concepts in Cultural Anthropology

Seventh Edition

Robert H. Lavenda and Emily A. Schultz

Publication Date - 14 March 2019

ISBN: 9780190924751

256 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The only brief cultural anthropology text specifically designed to prepare students to read ethnography more effectively and with greater understanding


Designed for courses that make extensive use of ethnographies and other supplementary readings, this is a concise introduction to the basic ideas and practices of contemporary cultural anthropology. Not a standard textbook, Core Concepts in Cultural Anthropology, Seventh Edition, offers an elaborated discussion of the key terms and concepts that anthropologists use in their work. The book prepares students to read ethnographies more effectively and with greater understanding.

New to this Edition

  • New material on archaeology of the contemporary world, engaged anthropology, reflexivity, STS, the ontological turn, the Anthropocene, environmental anthropology, and more
  • Extended discussions of race, kinship, and the state
  • Recent work on migration, media ideologies, and reading anthropological evidence "against the grain"

About the Author(s)

Robert H. Lavenda is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at St. Cloud State University.

Emily A. Schultz is Professor of Anthropology at St. Cloud State University.


"Core Concepts is an extended glossary of core terms in the field, placed within highly readable and comprehensible historical and thematic narratives. I love that it can be used sequentially as numbered, but also that the chapters can be presented out of sequence without losing the logic and flow. The 'how to read an ethnography' section is brilliant; I love the approach. I know of no text like it on the market."--David M. Buchman, Hanover College

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1. Anthropology
    1.1 An Anthropological Perspective
    1.2 The Subfields of Anthropology
    1.3 Is Anthropology a Science? Modernism, Postmodernism, and Beyond
    1.4 Reflexive Anthropology
    1.5 Moral Anthropology

    Chapter 2. Culture
    2.1 Culture Against Racism: The Early Twentieth Century
    2.2 The Evolution of Culture
    2.3 Culture and Symbolism
    2.4 Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
    2.5 The Boundaries of Culture?
    2.6 The Concept of Culture in a Global World: Problems and Practices
    2.7 Culture: Contemporary Discussion and Debate
    2.8 Culture: A Contemporary Consensus

    Chapter 3. Meaning-Making and Language
    3.1 Making Meaning
    3.2 Studying Language: A Historical Sketch
    3.3 The Building Blocks of Language
    3.4 Language and Culture
    3.5 Language and Society
    3.6 Discourse
    3.7 Language Contact and Change
    3.8 Meaning-Making and Art
    3.9 The Anthropology of Media and the Arts

    Chapter 4. Worldview and Religion
    4.1 Religion
    4.2 Myth
    4.3 Ritual
    4.4 Magic and Witchcraft
    4.5 Religious Practitioners
    4.6 Change in Religious Systems
    4.7 Secularism, Fundamentalism, and New Religious Movements

    Chapter 5. The Dimensions of Social Organization
    5.1 What Is Social Organization?
    5.2 Dimensions of Social Organization
    5.3 Caste and Class
    5.4 Race
    5.5 Ethnicity

    Chapter 6. Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
    6.1 Sex, Gender, and Feminism in the Twentieth Century
    6.2 Sex, Gender, Race, and Class
    6.3 Gender Performativity
    6.4 Theoretical Diversity in Studies of Sex and Gender
    6.5 Sex, Gender, and the Body
    6.6 Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
    6.7 Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Ethnographic Context

    Chapter 7. Relatedness: Kinship, Marriage, Family, and Friendship
    7.1 Kinship Versus Biology
    7.2 Descent
    7.3 Bilateral Descent
    7.4 Unilineal Descent
    7.5 Kinship Terminologies
    7.6 What Is Marriage?
    7.7 Whom to Marry and Where to Live
    7.8 How Many Spouses?
    7.9 Marriage as Alliance
    7.10 Family
    7.11 Divorce
    7.12 Friendship

    Chapter 8. Political Anthropology
    8.1 Power
    8.2 Political Ecology and Political Economy
    8.3 Disputes and Dispute Resolution
    8.4 Forms of Political Organization
    8.5 Social Stratification
    8.6 Forms of Political Activity
    8.7 Social Control and Law
    8.8 Nationalism and Hegemony

    Chapter 9. Economic Anthropology
    9.1 The "Arts of Subsistence"
    9.2 Subsistence Strategies
    9.3 Explaining the Material Life Processes of Society
    9.4 Modes of Exchange
    9.5 Production, Distribution, and Consumption
    9.6 Mode of Production
    9.7 Peasants
    9.8 Consumption
    9.9 The Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

    Chapter 10. Globalization
    10.1 The Cultural Legacy of Colonialism
    10.2 Analyzing Sociocultural Change in the Postcolonial World
    10.3 Globalization
    10.4 The Cultural Effects of Contact
    10.5 Globalization, Citizenship, and Human Rights
    10.6 Global Assemblages

    Chapter 11. The Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Medicine
    11.1 Science and Anthropology
    11.2 Anthropology, Science, and Technology
    11.3 The Anthropology of Medicine
    11.4 Human Health in Evolutionary Context
    11.5 Human Health and Nutrition
    11.6 Health and Human Reproduction
    11.7 Sickness and Health in the Global Capitalist Economy

    Chapter 12. Theory in Cultural Anthropology
    12.1 Anthropology as Science
    12.2 Nineteenth-Century Approaches
    12.3 Early-Twentieth-Century Approaches
    12.4 Mid-Twentieth-Century Approaches
    12.5 Late-Twentieth-Century Debates
    12.6 New Directions in the Twenty-First Century

    Appendix: Reading Ethnography
    The Parts of an Ethnography
    The Use of Indigenous and Local Terms
    The Photographs
    Why Are You Reading This Ethnography (and How Should You Read It)?


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