Skip to main content
A to Z entry list
Submit an entry
Support the encyclopedia
filter by subject
- Any -
filter by subject
- Any -
New to Old
A to Z
The definition of ‘art’ is extremely complicated. Its meaning has shifted radically, in particular in the last century. Originally, in Latin, it meant ‘craft’, but then for...
by Roger Sansi
Cash transfers—direct regular and non-contributory payments to eligible individuals—are one of the most discussed, celebrated, and contested social assistance innovations of the...
by Martin Fotta, Mario Schmidt
Ethnicity is a concept that marks social belonging as much as it does difference, and that lies at the heart of political debates as well as debates across academic disciplines today...
by Sara Shneiderman , Emily Amburgey
Anthropology makes a unique contribution to the study of egalitarianism. While ‘egalitarianism’ has long been the purview of moral philosophy, anthropology is unique in that it is the...
by Megan Laws
‘Prefigurative politics’ refers to how activists embody and enact, within their activism, the socialities and practices they foster for broader society. Inspired by anarchist...
by Guilherme Fians
Pandemics tend to be defined as large epidemics, i.e. as sudden and widespread rises in disease incidence that occur over a very wide area, cross international boundaries, and affect...
by Frédéric Keck
Literacy is a linguistic innovation characterised by the encoding and decoding of language into a system of visual signs whose relevance to daily life in most societies cannot be...
by Mark Turin, Robert Hanks
Anthropology and history are inseparable, sharing concerns with societies other than the one we currently inhabit—whether in time or in space. This entry considers how the relation...
by Eric Hirsch
To know what men are, anthropologists look beyond dictionary definitions, personal experience, and opinions and study societies across the globe and throughout history. They study...
by Matthew Gutmann
The collapse of the socialist societies in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union drastically changed the lives of millions of people and offered a new and exciting field of research...
by Dominic Martin
Freedom of speech
Free speech is a familiar concept. It is an established ideal of liberalism and democratic politics, and the subject of political debate and conflict across diverse historical and...
by Matei Candea, Fiona Wright, Paolo Heywood, Taras Fedirko
Buddhism has existed for around two and half millennia, and is practiced by over 500 million people in the world today. The anthropology of Buddhism spans the breadth of the Buddhist...
by Joanna Cook, Hildegard Diemberger
Visual anthropology encompasses two parallel aims: the production of anthropological media (including ethnographic film, video, photography, drawing, interactive media, etc.) as well...
by Jenny Chio
Sharing is a particularly versatile and widespread human practice that features in all domains of life, including religion and politics, family life, and economics. It has a long...
by Thomas Widlok
Climate change, largely a product of human activities, is arguably the most comprehensive and dramatic challenge facing humanity. In the first decades of this century, its...
by Thomas Hylland Eriksen
Dependence is often considered as a primarily negative state of being. It has gone from being described as a threat to individual self-reliance in early modern political theory in...
by Keir Martin
Writing is key in anthropology, as one of its main modes of communication. Teaching, research, publications, and outreach all build on, or consist of, writing. This entry traces how...
by Helena Wulff
‘Latin’ America is a region constructed in a context of imperial rivalries and disputes about how to build ‘modern’ nations that made it an ‘other America’ distinct from ‘Anglo’...
by John Gledhill
Paying tax or avoiding tax is part of everyday life across the globe. But what kinds of payments are taxes, and how do fiscal systems shape society? Taxes are often conceived of as a...
by Miranda Sheild Johansson
Sharia is a key concept in Islam and our contemporary world. Often translated into English as ‘Islamic law’, it includes financial contracts, criminal justice, and marriage and...
by Morgan Clarke
‘Neoliberalism’ is a widely used term that travelled from economic philosophy into policymaking, and from policymaking into critical social scientific discourse in the late twentieth...
by Natalie Morningstar
What is addiction? As an umbrella term, addiction is often used to describe activities where there is an overwhelming drive to engage in destructive, distressing or compulsive...
by Joshua Burraway
Political ecology is a critical research field within anthropology and related disciplines that examines how and why economic structures and power relations drive environmental...
by Jason Roberts
Cooperatives are a main means of organization for economic activity, generally operating on principles of equal membership and members’ democratic control of their means of...
by Theodoros Rakopoulos
Hunting and gathering
Hunting and gathering constitute the oldest human mode of making a living, and the only one for which there is an uninterrupted record from human origins to the present....
by Thomas Widlok
Money is a formidable subject — an intimate object in our everyday lives, a claim over resources, and a topic of academic inquiry. Textbooks define money by its various functions, e....
by Allison Truitt
Farming has become increasingly visible in recent years, following a growing public interest in how food is produced. Anthropologists have been studying farming since the founding of...
by Andrew Ofstehage
Because water permeates every aspect of human existence, ethnographic accounts describe many forms of engagement with it: for example, its centrality to modes of production; its...
by Veronica Strang
Revolutions encompass political mobilizations that attempt rapid transformations of both the nature of political authority and wider social, political, and economic structures....
by Alice Wilson
Mining has occurred for thousands of years, and social anthropologists have studied it for almost a century. This entry explains anthropology's principle findings about mining,...
by Alex Golub
The concept of autism is historically contingent. It did not exist, in any proper sense, before it was invoked by medical and mental health professionals in the twentieth century....
by Ben Belek
From plastics in the oceans, to the export of toxic materials, waste is an issue that increasingly attracts public attention as well as demands for political and environmental action...
by Patrick O'Hare
Once a slur, the term ‘queer’ now is used to critique restrictive, dominant norms of respectable conduct and to recast sexual and gender variations in positive terms. With roots in...
by Ara Wilson
Global health is a field of expertise that has emerged at the turn of the twenty-first century alongside changing disease profiles, health technologies, and governance structures....
by Emily Yates-Doerr, Kenneth Maes
Activities that one can retrospectively label as ‘sport’ have probably been part of human beings’ repertoire for millennia, but sports as we know them today are the product of a...
by Niko Besnier, Susan Brownell
‘The Anthropocene’ is a term that is increasingly used to define a new planetary epoch: one in which humans have become the dominant force shaping Earth’s bio-geophysical composition...
by Liana Chua, Hannah Fair
Islam is not an anthropological concept in the way, for example, culture, or even religion, are. People have thought about and discussed Islam long before anthropologists started...
by Samuli Schielke
Disability is a form of difference that is created when the social participation of someone with an impairment is ‘dis-abled’ by normative expectations and material conditions...
by Clara Devlieger
Cargo cult—the term—appeared in 1945, at the end of the Pacific War. Anthropologists rapidly embraced the neologism to label the Melanesian social movements that had come to their...
by Lamont Lindstrom
Precarity emerged as a central concern in scholarly research and writing in the twenty-first century, partly in response to political mobilizations against unemployment and social...
by Sharryn Kasmir
This entry takes on two subjects. First, it addresses the influence that anthropology had on the work of the mid-twentieth century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, and second, the...
by Jon Bialecki
Bureaucracy quite literally translates into rule by public office (‘bureau’). The anthropology of bureaucracy can be seen as falling under two broad approaches. Firstly, there is an...
by Nayanika Mathur
Voice is a salient category in our contemporary lives. We speak of marginalised groups ‘lacking voice’ and celebrate their efforts at ‘raising their voices’; we are advised to listen...
by Marlene Schäfers
Feasts are special meals (food out of the ordinary in kind or quantity) shared among an enlarged circle of people. They are occasions for many kinds of activities, not only eating...
by Chloe Nahum-Claudel
'Science' features twice in anthropology. On the one hand, science is an object of anthropological enquiry, in much the same way as ‘kinship’, ‘religion’, or ‘nationalism’....
by Matei Candea
With images of protest and dissent widespread and frequently circulated in news broadcasts and social media posts, resistance to prevailing power structures seems to be an expected...
by Fiona Wright
Anthropology museums and museum anthropology
This entry provides an overview of the history, politics and changing roles of anthropology museums. It explores the developing field of museum anthropology, which encompasses the...
by Anita Herle
What is citizenship? The word itself is now used in a wide range of arenas, from citizenship education in schools to development agencies’ programmes of good governance, and public...
by Sian Lazar
Colonialism / postcolonialism
The giant composite field of colonialism and postcolonialism studies has had a transforming effect on modern anthropology. Anthropologists have been innovative users of its...
by Susan Bayly
Human rights, as described in documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are a set of moral and legal principles that apply to all human beings irrespective of...
by Harri Englund
The concept of ‘tribal society’ is one of the most prominent and popular ‘anthropological’ notions of our time, yet within western social and cultural anthropology it has been...
by David Sneath