A Genealogy of Method

A Genealogy of Method

Anthropology’s Ancestors and the Meaning of Culture

By Sondra L. Hausner

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This volume considers the meaning of culture and anthropology’s role in defining it. Taking up the history of the discipline and the method of ethnography in turn, the book asks if the concept of culture might be productively reclaimed within a context that acknowledges history, change, and diversity.

EPUB, 250 Pages


July 2024

£19.99, $23.80

PDF, 250 Pages


July 2024

£19.99, $23.80

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About This Book

What is culture? The history of our discipline – whether we call it ethnology or social anthropology – shows that there is not a constant answer to this question or even a constant object of study. How can we search for a unifying answer to what makes us human even as we observe how immensely varied we are? And how can we explain that such difference is the very core of what makes us similarly human?

This book explores the idea of ethnography as a method for understanding cultural flow in particular contexts and suggests that anthropology can do its most important work by tracing the history of social formations. Nothing about culture is static, yet something best-called culture sustains itself over time. At the heart of anthropology is the attempt to understand the concept of culture, even as we continue to challenge its definition in our field.

 This short volume presents the Jensen Memorial Lectures delivered at the Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology at Goethe University, Frankfurt, in 2019. The lectures reflect on the current moment in – and the capacity of – contemporary anthropology to consider the discipline’s basic premises, through the lens of its classical thinkers. Through a set of four lectures and an introduction, this book takes up anthropology’s most basic question – the meaning of culture – and asks how it is that our unique method is able to elicit both fine-grained particularities about specific social orders and speak to the definition of that which makes us human.


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Author Information

Sondra L. Hausner is Professor of Anthropology of Religion at the University of Oxford.


Anthem Impact

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Culture of Anthropology; Lecture One: The Question of Religion; Lecture Two: The Serendipity of Method; Lecture Three: The Relevance of History; Lecture Four: The Meaning of Culture; Bibliography


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