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Comparison in Anthropology
The Impossible Method

$32.99 (P)

Part of New Departures in Anthropology

  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108465045

$ 32.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Why and how do social and cultural anthropologists make comparisons? What problems do they encounter in doing so, and how might these be resolved? What, if anything, makes one comparison better than another? This book answers these questions by exploring the many ways in which, from the nineteenth century to the present day, comparative methods have been conceptualised and re-invented, praised and rejected, multiplied and unified. Anthropologists today use comparisons to describe and to explain, to generalise and to challenge generalisations, to critique and to create new concepts. In this multiplicity of often contradictory aims lie both the key challenge of anthropological comparison, and also its key strength. Matei Candea maps a path through that entangled conversation, providing a ground-up re-assessment of the key conceptual issues at the heart of any form of anthropological comparison, whilst creating a bold charter for reconsidering the value of comparison in anthropology and beyond.

    • Provides a clear overview of historical and contemporary debates about comparison in anthropology
    • Enables anthropologists to review the nature and purposes of the discipline in a time of institutional change
    • Creates a systematic rethinking of the key conceptual and methodological problems and opportunities relating to comparison
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This witty, mind-opening and intellectually generous book is a classic in the making. Candea combines a breathtaking sweep of comparative practice and the constantly self-eclipsing waves of anthropological enquiry with a penetrating discernment of the theoretical passions that shape it and how anthropologists distinctively keep them in play. The comparative method will never be the same. It is also a gripping read!' Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge

    'As Matei Candea shows in this deeply thoughtful volume, anthropology has long been haunted by the sense that comparison is impossible yet indispensable. To a topic that has at times inspired the heat of polemics, at others that silence of taboo, Candea brings a voice that is calm - even wise.' Webb Keane, University of Michigan

    'Matei Candea’s book, Comparison in Anthropology: The Impossible Method, is a fascinating example of how complex, and how intellectually fortifying, the survival-revival genre can be. … As a historical primer on how anthropologists compare, and when they decide not to, the book has no rivals. I say this knowing that the publication of books and essays on comparison is endless … Candea re-articulates everything the comparative method aspires to but cannot attain. … Comparison in Anthropology is an exemplary blend of preaching and practice. Read it. Teach it. Object to it. And enjoy its incomparable effects.' Andrew Shryock, History and Anthropology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108465045
    • length: 404 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Impossibilities:
    1. The impossible method
    2. The garden of forking paths
    3. Caesurism and heuristics
    Part II. An Archetype:
    4. Comparatio
    5. Two ends of lateral comparison: identity and alterity
    6. Another dimension of lateral comparison: identity and intensity
    7. Two ends of frontal comparison: identity, alterity, reflexivity
    8. The oscillations of frontal comparison: identity, intensity, reflexivity
    9. Rigour

  • Author

    Matei Candea, University of Cambridge
    Matei Candea is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge and a former honorary editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. He is the author of Corsican Fragments (2010), editor of The Social after Gabriel Tarde (2010) and Schools and Styles of Anthropological Theory (2018).

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