Engaging Evil: A Moral Anthropology | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Engaging Evil: A Moral Anthropology

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Volume 36

Methodology & History in Anthropology

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Engaging Evil

A Moral Anthropology

Edited by William C. Olsen and Thomas J. Csordas
Afterword by David Parkin

322 pages, index

ISBN  978-1-78920-213-7 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2019)

ISBN  978-1-80073-640-5 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (October 2022)

eISBN 978-1-78920-214-4 eBook


View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The volume brings nuance, complexity and ethnographic thickness to recent debates in moral anthropology, showing that anthropology is far from being ‘secure’ in its distinction between good and evil while studying suffering, and that an anthropology of evil must complement the anthropology of the good. The book is a must for anthropologists working on morality, but it is also an enticing invitation for those working on suffering, violence and structural injustice to explore the usefulness of evil as analytical category, beyond the study of emic notions.” • Social Anthropology

“The various contributions offer a rich and highly variegated overview of how anthropologists have dealt with ‘evil’ and thus give a good idea of the baffling variety hiding behind this notion.” • Peter Geschiere, University of Amsterdam


Anthropologists have expressed wariness about the concept of evil even in discussions of morality and ethics, in part because the concept carries its own cultural baggage and theological implications in Euro-American societies. Addressing the problem of evil as a distinctly human phenomenon and a category of ethnographic analysis, this volume shows the usefulness of engaging evil as a descriptor of empirical reality where concepts such as violence, criminality, and hatred fall short of capturing the darkest side of human existence.

William C. Olsen is a lecturer for anthropology and African studies at Georgetown University.

Thomas J. Csordas is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and James Y. Chan Presidential Chair in Global Health at the University of California, San Diego.

Subject: Theory and MethodologySociologyAnthropology of Religion


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