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An Anthropology of Things
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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, the included essays 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. The book's 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. This book was published as a joint publication with Kyoto University Press.
TOKORO Ikuya is a Japanese cultural anthropologist specializing in Southeast Asian anthropology who currently holds the position of Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian and African Languages and Cultures, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. After graduating from the Faculty of Literature, Keio University, in 1989, he completed an MA at the University of Tokyo in 1991. He was Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo before taking up his current position.
KAWAI Kaori is a Japanese cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on East African anthropology. She is currently Professor at the Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA), Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Her involvement in cultural anthropological research in Kenya began in 1986, and she completed a PhD in Science at the Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, in 1994. She was Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities, Shizuoka University, and Associate Professor at the Institute for Asian and African Languages and Cultures, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, before taking up her current position as Professor at the ILCAA in 2015.
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