Ikuya Tokoro and Kaori Kawai eds, An Anthropology of Things
Price: $84.95

The aim of this book is to highlight the important roles that things play in our everyday lives by examining how things and humans interact. Based on ethnographical data from Asia, Africa and Oceania, we challenge the instrumentalist idea that humans alone are subjects with agency (freedom to act) while things are merely objects at their disposal. Anthropologists have, typically, viewed things through anthropocentric lenses; reducing things to social function or cultural meaning. Our approach is to shift the question from “what do things mean?” to “what do they do (cause)?” – a shift from meaning to agency. Using an interdisciplinary approach, including researchers from archaeology, ecological anthropology and primatology, as well as cultural anthropologists, and taking the broadest understanding of things, this book probes the permeable boundaries between subject and object, mind and body, and between humans and things to demonstrate that cultures and things are mutually constitutive.

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