On the last day of class, my advanced theory students would break up into small groups and each have the option of choosing one such old anthropology textbook from the box of them that I had selected from the shelf. They would then spend the next 15 to 20 minutes exploring the book (looking at the table of contents, skimming chapters, reading the introduction, etc.) in order to answer three basic questions...Truthfully, I have never had quite so much fun, nor gotten so much out of, teaching from a textbook.
From screens and tabloids, we are fed images of slender bodies. For decades sleek and angular silhouettes were said to be icons of style, fashion, beauty, youth, and desire. This trend is often blamed to be the source of anorexia. But is anorexia nervosa as simple as that? In her book 'Abject relations: everyday worlds of anorexia' (2009), Megan Warin takes us on a journey to find the answer.
In the book Ethnicity and Democracy, Mona Chettri offers a rich ethnography originating from fieldwork conducted in three EH borderland areas: Darjeeling (India), Sikkim (India), and Ilam in East Nepal. These three areas were traditionally seen as continuous cultural landscapes bounded by fluid and porous borders, defining trade, livelihood, and everyday life in the region. Chettri’s book is one of the first few works to identify the continuous yet discrete nature of Darjeeling, Sikkim, and East Nepal. Invoking the EH as a conceptual, geographical, and political space, Chettri offers a new framework within which questions of ethnic revivalism, ethnic politics, representation, political and economic vagaries, and political rights across these regions can be analysed.
Christian but not ideological? Doesn’t promote perspectives in controversy but centers theological devotion? Biblical differences of opinion, but not anthropological ones? The centrality of “belief” as both a core concept and as a linguistic turn of phrase (i.e., “anthropologists believe…” which appears all over the text) is also telling. This isn’t just a Christian perspective, it’s an unexamined recapitulation of Euro-American religious concepts (like “belief”) that formed the Eurocentric academic study of culture two centuries ago and that modern anthropologists have spent a fair amount of time deeply critical of.