Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

An Anthropology of Names and Naming


Barbara Bodenhorn, Gabriele vom Bruck, Linda Layne, André Iteanu, Stephen Hugh-Jones, Maurice Bloch, Michael Lambek, Caroline Humphrey, Susan Benson, Thomas Blom Hansen
View all contributors
  • Date Published: October 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521121712

£ 34.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This book is about personal names, something of abiding interest to specialists and lay readers alike. Over a million people have checked the American Name Society website since 1996, for instance. Many philosophers and linguists suggest that names are 'just' labels, but parents internationally are determined to get their children's names 'right'. Personal names may be given, lost, traded, stolen and inherited. This collection of essays provides comparative ethnography through which we examine the politics of naming; the extent to which names may be property-like; and the power of names themselves, both to fix and to destabilize personal identity. Our purpose is not only to renew anthropological attention to names and naming, but to show how this intersects with current interests in political processes, the relation between bodies and personal identities, ritual and daily social life.

    • Introduction providing a cross-disciplinary overview
    • Written by well-known authors spanning a wide range of disciplines and countries
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'This collection of thoughtful essays offers an anthropologically grounded discussion of how names are bestowed, changed, shared, coveted, rejected, used and sometimes abused in a wide range of ethnographic contexts. It provides an excellent array of case studies, from high-ranking Yemeni Imams to African American slaves who must not only relinquish their given names but also answer to demeaning or absurd monikers, and many illustrative examples in between. … In an era when names act simultaneously as markers of identity and tools of surveillance, this edited volume provides much material for thought and comparison on the regional significance of names. Indeed this welcome set of essays will be of interest to both cultural and linguistic anthropologists in search of a deeper answer to the age-old question of what is in a name.' The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521121712
    • length: 304 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Entangled in histories': an introduction to the anthropology of names and naming Barbara Bodenhorn and Gabriele vom Bruck
    2. 'Your child deserves a name': possessive individualism and the politics of memory of pregnancy loss Linda Layne
    3. Names that do not need people André Iteanu
    4. The substance of northwest Amazonian names Stephen Hugh-Jones
    5. Teknonymy and the evocation of the 'social' among the Zafimaniry of Madagascar Maurice Bloch
    6. What's in a name? Name bestowal and the identity of spirits in Mayotte and Northwest Madagascar Michael Lambek
    7. Calling into being: naming and speaking names on Alaska's North Slope Barbara Bodenhorn
    8. On being named and not named: authority, persons and their names in Mongolia Caroline Humphrey
    9. Injurious names: naming, disavowal and recuperation in contexts of slavery and emancipation Susan Benson
    10. Where names fall short: names as performances in contemporary urban South Africa Thomas Blom Hansen
    11. Names as bodily signs Gabriele vom Bruck.

  • Editors

    Gabriele vom Bruck, University of Edinburgh

    Barbara Bodenhorn, University of Cambridge


    Barbara Bodenhorn, Gabriele vom Bruck, Linda Layne, André Iteanu, Stephen Hugh-Jones, Maurice Bloch, Michael Lambek, Caroline Humphrey, Susan Benson, Thomas Blom Hansen

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.