Reading a few classics now….

I have recently bought a bunch of anthropological classics, works written by well known anthropological oldies. These works I consider interesting for my research, because they introduce and elaborate concepts I think can be usefully applied – in moderated form perhaps – to the use of new technologies. Not only that, I think using older concepts and theories balance the tendency to see current (technological) developments as “radically new” and “revolutionary”, a “complete breach from everything we ever knew before”. Utter rubbish of course, most would agree 😀 Yet still the tendency is there to over-stress the newness of it all. Using older thoughts can counterbalance this a bit, I think.

Some titles:

  • Arnold van Gennep – The Rites of Passage (originally published in 1908; useful because of its focus on socio-cultural change and the concept of liminality)
  • Marcel Mauss – The Gift (orig. 1950; useful because gifts are a cultural/economic way of bonding, based on reciprocity. This, I believe, can be applied to the way people nowadays exchange SMS text messages, and little phone calls ’bout nothing’)
  • Victor Turner – From Ritual to Theatre: the human seriousness of play (1982; Turner has written a lot on ritual. The exploration of playfulness in culture is useful for our topic ‘Playful Identities’)
  • Mary Douglas – Natural symbols : explorations in cosmology (1970; Douglas also wrote a classic about purity and danger and taboo)

I also intend to read (or at least look into) a Dutch translation of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ ‘Tristes Tropiques’ my colleague Bibi gave me. Lots to read still in my own field, let alone beyond the boundaries of anthropology… :/

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