Comparison has long been the backbone of the discipline of anthropology. But recent developments in anthropology, including critical self-reflection and new case studies sited in a globalized world, have pushed comparative work aside. For the most part, comparison as theory and method has been a casualty of the critique of 'grand theory' and of a growing mistrust of objectivist, hard-science methodology in the social sciences.
Today it is time for anthropology to resume its central task of exploring humankind through comparison, using its newfound critical self-awareness under changing global conditions. In Anthropology By Comparision, an international group of prominent anthropologists re-visits, re-theorizes and re-invigorates comparison as a legitimate and fruitful enterprise. The authors explore the value of anthropological comparison and encourage an international dialogue about comparative research. While rejecting older, universalist comparative methods, these scholars take a fresh look at various subaltern and neglected approaches to comparison from their own national traditions. They then present new approaches that are especially relevant to the globalized world of the twenty-first century.
Every student and practitioner of anthropology and the social sciences will find this thought-provoking volume essential reading. Anthropology, by Comparison is a call to creative reflection on the past and productive action in the present, a challenge to anthropologists to revitalize their unique contribution to human understanding. Anthropology, by Comparison is an indispensable overview of anthropology's roots - and its future - with regard to the comparative study of humankind.
'It is a valuable series of essays … resting largely upon the way individual contributers draw on the collective riches of the dicipline in order to think freshly about methods and intentions. I greatly enjoyed the book because it made me lift my eyes.' - Sid Mintz, John Hopkins University
'It is a marvellous collection. It will, I am sure, help to put anthropology back on track after all our collective indulgences in various non-comparative and anti-comparative kinds of work.I like the diversity of the collection, and I especially like the editors' notion of a plurality of comparative methods to replace simplistic hard-science model that had gone before. I am sure it will be useful for both anthropologists and students alike. - - Alan Barnard, University of Edinburgh'