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By Joy Hendry

A great advent to social anthropology (aimed at scholars) and is the reason what this box of analysis is and the way it really is conducted. The publication attracts at the author's own reviews in conveying the thrill and variety of alternative cultures, languages and various perceptions of the worlds within which humans dwell in. utilizing quite a number examples, pleasure Hendry discusses the main subject matters of research: ritual; reward alternate and reciprocity; symbolism; attractiveness and bounty, treasure and trophies; faith, magic and mythology; legislations, order and social keep an eye on; kinfolk, kinship and marriage; economics and the surroundings.

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Extra info for An Introduction to Social Anthropology: Other People’s Worlds

Sample text

A person is either alive, or dead. His or her heart is beating or it is not . This is simply one way in which to classify death as a state, however, and even this has been brought into question since the introduction of life support machines. A state of ,brain-death' might now justify the stopping of a heartbeat sustained by such a machine, and this possibility ha s brought to the surface a degree of woolliness in our own definition of death. Among the Melanesians, Rivers suggested that the category mate also included the idea of 'very ill' and 'very old', so that the dividing line between that and the opposite, toa, is drawn in a different way from our distinction between life and death.

In a more recent collection, anthropologists were invited to use autobiography, of themselves and of their informants, as a means to tackle head-on this problem of personal involvement in the research they carry out (Okely and Callaway, 1992), and the resulting book has become a valuable aide to field work. Most anthropological studies make serious attempts to counteract the inevitable bias of the human studying humans - a phenomenon not unlike that known in physics as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which recognizes the need to introduce a change to particles of matter in order to observe them.

R. Rivers questioned the idea that there was some fundamental difference between the logic of primitive people and that of their observers. In an essay entitled 'The Primitive Conception of Death' (1926), he suggested 22 An Introduction to Social Anthropology that deeper investigation would reveal logic quite recognizable to the Western mind if due consideration was given to the fact that things might beclassified differently. Drawing on his own experience among Melanesian people in the Solomon Islands, he addressed some apparent contradictions in the use of a local word, mate, used to translate 'dead', but also applied to people who by his standards were patently still living.

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