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Civilisation Recast
Theoretical and Historical Perspectives

$29.99 (F)

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  • Date Published: October 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108706186

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About the Authors
  • Civilisation is a debated concept and is often associated with the prerogatives of the 'West', colonial histories, and even emerging global politics. In this book, Stephen Feuchtwang and Michael Rowlands use the examples of Africa and China to provide a new conceptualisation that challenges traditional notions of 'civilisation'. They explain how to understand duration and continuity as long-term processes of transformation. Civilisations are best seen as practices of feeding and hospitality, of rituals and manners of living and dying, of entering the portals into the invisible world that surrounds and encompasses us, of healing and the knowledge of the encompassing universe and its powers, including its ghosts and demons. Civilisations furnish the moral ideals for people to live by and aspire to and they are changed more by the actions of disappointed grassroots and their little traditions than by their ruling authorities. Just as they revitalise and change their civilisations, this book revitalises and changes the way to think about civilisations in the humanities, the historical and the social sciences.

    • Provides a thorough overview of the uses of the concept of civilisation
    • Is securely embedded in a comparative approach with special emphasis on China and Africa
    • Develops a new concept of civilisation that can be used critically and without fear of being imperialist
    Read more


    • Winner, 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘This short but persuasive study is the product of two erudite scholars writing boldly in the late years of their careers. It is well organized and easy to follow, presenting anthropological theory in a clear and accessible manner. It also bridges conversations across different fields, which makes this volume a great candidate for introductory and interdisciplinary courses.’ A. Ponce de Leon, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108706186
    • length: 224 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Civilisation: a critical and constructive review
    2. Civilisation in this book
    3. Long-term traditions of food, substance and sacrifice: interpreting cultures of ingestion in West, South and East Asia
    4. Neolithicities: from Africa to Eurasia and beyond
    5. Ancestors, civilisation and hierarchy
    some comparisons from Africa
    6. Civilisation in China
    7. Civilisation and the government of 'civilisation' in contemporary China
    8. Conclusion.

  • Authors

    Stephan Feuchtwang, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Stephen Feuchtwang is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of several books on China, including The Imperial Metaphor (1991) and After the Event (2011).

    Michael Rowlands, University College London
    Michael Rowlands is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. The author of the Handbook of Material Culture (2006) and Reclaiming Heritage (2008), he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gothenburg in 2015.


    • Winner, 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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