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The Anthropology of Texts, Persons and Publics

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Part of New Departures in Anthropology

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About the Authors
  • What can texts - both written and oral - tell us about the societies that produce them? How are texts constituted in different cultures, and how do they shape societies and individuals? How can we understand the people who compose them? Drawing on examples from Africa and other countries, this original study sets out to answer these questions, by exploring textuality from a variety of angles. Topics covered include the importance of genre, the ways in which oral genres transcend the here-and-now, and the complex relationship between texts and the material world. Barber considers the ways in which personhood is evoked, both in oral poetry and in written diaries and letters, discusses the audience's role in creating the meaning of texts, and shows textual creativity to be a universal human capacity expressed in myriad forms. Engaging and thought-provoking, this book will be welcomed by anyone interested in anthropology, literature and cultural studies.

    • Includes numerous examples of oral and written texts, with explanations of how they might be interpreted within local contexts
    • Introduces a new and rapidly emerging field of enquiry
    • Approaches the topic from a variety of different angles and illustrates these with case studies from all over the world
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The brilliance of Karin Barber's book unfolds in her analyses of oral and written texts - praise poetry, epic poems, songs, novels, letters, and unpublished journals - from a wide range of African cultures and historical periods. As we follow Barber's linguistically, culturally, and historically grounded analyses of specific texts, we gain layers of insight into a variety of cultures' constructions of personhood and publics at particular places and times." - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

    "The Anthropology of Texts offers sets of concepts, terms and methods, refreshing the study of folklore and oral literature in Africa and elsewhere. It is a book that every cultural anthropologist and every folklorist ought to read."
    Africa

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2008
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511372650
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from eBooks.com
  • Table of Contents

    1. Anthropology and text
    2. Genre, society and history
    3. The constitution of oral texts
    4. Text and personhood
    5. Audiences and publics
    6. The private
    7. Textual fields and popular creativity.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Expressive Culture
    • Introduction to African Studies
    • Literacies in Anthropological Perspective
    • Myth in Cultural Context
  • Author

    Karin Barber, University of Birmingham
    Karin Barber is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Birmingham.

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