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A Continental Perspective


A Continental Perspective

Originally published in German, Christoph Wulf’s Anthropology sets its sights on a topic as ambitious as its title suggests: anthropology itself. Arguing for an interdisciplinary and intercultural approach to anthropology that incorporates science, philosophy, history, and many other disciplines, Wulf examines—with breathtaking scope—all the ways that anthropology has been understood and practiced around the globe and through the years.
Seeking a central way to understand anthropology in the midst of many different approaches to the discipline, Wulf concentrates on the human body. An emblem of society, culture, and time, the body is also the result of many mimetic processes—the active acquisition of cultural knowledge. By examining the role of the body in the performance of rituals, gestures, language, and other forms of imagination, he offers a bold new look at how culture is produced, handed down, and transformed. Drawing such examinations into a comprehensive and sophisticated assessment of the discipline as a whole, Anthropology looks squarely at the mystery of humankind and the ways we have attempted to understand it.

424 pages | 22 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology


“This is an extremely ambitious project that should stimulate both reflection on and engagement with the discipline. . . . Highly recommended.”

F. W. Gleach | Choice

“This wonderful volume introduces a theory of human nature that may well be needed in our sprawling discipline, and it is highly recommended, not least as an introduction to a little-known branch on the great tree of anthropology.”

Social Analysis

Anthropology ambitiously argues for the contemporary viability of a general anthropology in the spirit of the purpose that gave rise to the discipline in the nineteenth century. Such works are very rare indeed in anthropology today, yet they are much needed, since the question of ‘what is anthropology beyond ethnography?’ is very much alive. Christoph Wulf’s book is a spirited and informed response to that question. It works through several important strains of European intellectual history that are key in the formation of anthropology about which most North American anthropologists are likely to know little.”

George Marcus, University of California, Irvine

“Synthesizing biological anthropology, philosophy, the history of mentalités, cultural anthropology, and hundreds of studies of families and schooling by his own lab, Christoph Wulf invites us to think in fresh ways about human bodies, performance and gesture, everyday rituals, and how we learn. This tour de force is four-fields anthropology as it’s never before been imagined in the United States.”

Kathryn Anderson-Levitt, University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents



Paradigms of Anthropology

1 Evolution—Hominization—Anthropology
2 Philosophical Anthropology
3 Anthropology in the Historical Sciences: Historical Anthropology
4 Cultural Anthropology
5 Historical Cultural Anthropology

Core Issues of Anthropology

6 The Body as a Challenge
7 The Mimetic Basis of Cultural Learning
8 Theories and Practices of the Performative
9 The Rediscovery of Rituals
10 Language—The Antinomy between the Universal and the Particular
11 Images and Imagination
12 Death and Recollection of Birth

 Future Prospects

 Notes  Selected Bibliography  Index

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