Difficult Folk?: A Political History of Social Anthropology | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Difficult Folk?: A Political History of Social Anthropology

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Volume 19

Methodology & History in Anthropology

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Difficult Folk?

A Political History of Social Anthropology

David Mills

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB Made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with the support of Knowledge Unlatched.

232 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-450-0 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2008)

ISBN  978-1-84545-465-4 $19.95/£15.95 / Pb / Published (August 2010)


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“Unlike previous historical accounts, [Mills] gives greater attention to structural factors than to intellectual emphases or individual personalities in his analysis of the emergence of different academic cultures in anthropology programs [in the UK and the US]. An illuminating account.” • Choice

“David Mills’s political history of social anthropology in the UK from the 1930s to the 1960s is increasingly valuable to British anthropologists and looks set to become a set textbook in the history of the discipline. …there is much in this book that might prompt us to consider both what might have been, and what might yet be.” • JRAI

“That [Mills] has voided a parochial indulgence of an Oxford-centric agenda to the reading of the history of British social anthropology through its evolving identity politics while fully acknowledging the historical importance of Oxford anthropology is a tribute to his theoretical sensibility and wide-ranging scholarship.” • The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology

“…fills a sizeable gap in the history of anthropology's coverage of the development of 20th-century British schools of social anthropology. His care to documentary detail and narrative clarity has created a readable and interesting political history of British social anthropology.” • Journal of Anthropological Research

“…a fascinating analysis of the political and institutional history of social history in Britain between the 1930s and the 1960s... Wonderfully written, with many insights and new information, the book also succeeds in setting up an analytical framework for understanding the development of our discipline in its British context.” • Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale


How should we tell the histories of academic disciplines? All too often, the political and institutional dimensions of knowledge production are lost beneath the intellectual debates. This book redresses the balance. Written in a narrative style and drawing on archival sources and oral histories, it depicts the complex pattern of personal and administrative relationships that shape scholarly worlds.

Focusing on the field of social anthropology in twentieth-century Britain, this book describes individual, departmental and institutional rivalries over funding and influence. It examines the efforts of scholars such as Bronislaw Malinowski, Edward Evans-Pritchard and Max Gluckman to further their own visions for social anthropology. Did the future lie with the humanities or the social sciences, with addressing social problems or developing scholarly autonomy? This new history situates the discipline's rise within the post-war expansion of British universities and the challenges created by the end of Empire.

David Mills is University Lecturer in Pedagogy and the Social Sciences at the University of Oxford. He previously held anthropology lectureships at Oxford, Manchester and Birmingham. His publications include Anthropology and Time (co-edited with Wendy James), Teaching Rites and Wrongs (co-edited with Mark Harris), and African Anthropologies: History, Practice and Critique (co-edited with Mwenda Ntarangwi and Mustafa Babiker).

Subject: Theory and MethodologyPolitical and Economic Anthropology

Difficult Folk? by David Mills is Available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) with the support of Knowledge Unlatched.

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB

OA ISBN: 978-1-78533-663-8


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