Skip to main content

The Body Impolitic

Artisans and Artifice in the Global Hierarchy of Value

The Body Impolitic is a critical study of tradition, not merely as an ornament of local and national heritage, but also as a millstone around the necks of those who are condemned to produce it.

Michael Herzfeld takes us inside a rich variety of small-town Cretan artisans’ workshops to show how apprentices are systematically thwarted into learning by stealth and guile. This harsh training reinforces a stereotype of artisans as rude and uncultured. Moreover, the same stereotypes that marginalize artisans locally also operate to marginalize Cretans within the Greek nation and Greece itself within the international community. What Herzfeld identifies as "the global hierarchy of value" thus frames the nation’s ancient monuments and traditional handicrafts as evidence of incurable "backwardness."

Herzfeld’s sensitive observations offer an intimately grounded way of understanding the effects of globalization and of one of its most visible offshoots, the heritage industry, on the lives of ordinary people in many parts of the world today.

272 pages | 2 halftones, 3 line drawings, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2003

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work

Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration
1. The Pedestal and the Tethering Post
2. Schooling the Body
3. Hostility and Cooperation
4. Engendered States
5. Boredom and Stealth
6. Associative States
7. Artisans in the State and the Nation
8. Embodying Value

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press