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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
The social and intellectual movement known as transhumanism questions the figure of the ‘human’ at the centre of humanism and modern political formations. As part of a broader ‘...
by Abou Farman
‘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
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
Monsters are not only key protagonists in myths, legends, fairy tales, fiction, and films; they also haunt cellars, cyberspace, and crossroads. Based on encounters with monsters in...
by Yasmine Musharbash
Social reproduction is a lens through which to analyse the persistence of society over time, even as its human and material components keep changing. Its main value is in identifying...
by Hadas Weiss
Phenomenology is one of the most influential philosophical traditions of the twentieth century and has significantly shaped contemporary anthropological and social theory. This entry...
by Jarrett Zigon, Jason Throop
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
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
Medical pluralism describes the availability of different medical approaches, treatments, and institutions that people can use while pursuing health: for example, combining...
by Venera Khalikova
Cannibalism, the eating of one’s own kind, is a practice that occurs in both humans and non-humans. Some people consumed their own kin to ensure that their spirits joined those of...
by Shirley Lindenbaum
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
Emic and etic
The emic/etic distinction originated in linguistics in the 1950s to designate two complementary standpoints for the analysis of human language and behaviour. It has been...
by Till Mostowlansky, Andrea Rota
Numbers, enumeration, and the quantification of contemporary life seem to govern our existence more and more. Particularly since the dawn of the twenty-first century, the importance...
by Marlee Tichenor
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
As one of the oldest forms of social actions that bind people together and as an arresting example of the universality and diversity of humanity, gift exchange has long been a focus...
by Yunxiang Yan
Children, as the youngest members of our species, exist in all human societies across space and time. But societies differ widely in their understandings of childhood as a...
by Catherine Allerton
Attempts to define and describe magic must reckon with this concept’s slipperiness, as magic is often understood against what supposedly it is not: typically, ‘proper’ religion and ‘...
by Matteo Benussi
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
Animism is a particular sensibility and way of relating to various beings in the world. It involves attributing sentience to other beings that may include persons, animals, plants,...
by Katherine Swancutt
Though there is no universally accepted definition for what constitutes a ‘game’, games are typically defined as goal-oriented, rules-based activities closely associated with the...
by Max Watson
Divination is a widespread cultural practice that takes varied forms worldwide. It can be diagnostic, forecasting, and interventionist, in the sense of changing the receptor’s...
by Diana Espírito Santo
‘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
‘The digital’ is defined here as new technologies that are ultimately reducible to binary code. These have made many cultural artefacts easier and quicker to both reproduce and to...
by Daniel Miller
To make a topic from one of anthropology’s principal means and objects of study, investigating relations through relations, is offered in the spirit of reflexive enquiry. The entry...
by Marilyn Strathern
What role do nonhuman animals play in human social life? This question has long interested anthropologists, who have provided various answers, themselves reflective of broader...
by Thomas White, Matei Candea
Ethnographic fieldwork, carried out according to the method of long-term participant-observation, is what defines social anthropology. The method is inductive and open-ended. As such...
by Signe Howell
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
Tourism is a new phenomenon in world history, but today more people travel long distances for this purpose than for any other. This entry traces some main contributions...
by Rupert Stasch
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
Ontological turn, the
‘Culture’ is in many ways the most fundamental of anthropological concepts. Yet it has been the subject of a range of critical interventions in the course of the discipline’s history,...
by Paolo Heywood
Ethics / morality
It is possible to argue that the anthropology of ethics has always been part of the discipline but also that it is a radically new and transformative venture. This entry explains why...
by James Laidlaw
'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
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
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 Mediterranean is one of the most underrated areas in anthropological imagination. On the one hand, its shores have furnished the most complex formulations of the unfolding...
by Naor Ben-Yehoyada
When we think about landscape, we tend to think of natural scenery, empty of people; of a view, spread in front of our eyes; or of a backdrop, a stage for people’s movements and...
by Paola Filippucci
Matriliny is a way of reckoning kinship descent and belonging through the female line. This entry discusses some of the forms matrilineal kinship may take in practice before...
by Jessica Johnson
The concept of values has recently re-emerged as the object of explicit theoretical attention in a number of disciplines, including anthropology. The aim of this entry is to review...
by Joel Robbins, Julian Sommerschuh
Gambling occurs when a person commits one or more valuable items (a ‘stake’) to an event or series of events packaged together, and where the result determines a loss or win at a...
by Anthony Pickles