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Berghahn’s Best-selling Books in Anthropology

Winner of the American Anthropological Association’s Executive Director’s Award of Excellence for Publishing in Anthropology, Berghahn Books is proud to remain “absolutely essential to scholarly communication in the field of Anthropology.

It is our honor to present a list of our Anthropology bestsellers below. In celebration of this year’s AAA Raising Our Voices Event, these and all other Anthropology titles, both print and eBook, are 35% off with code AAA2020 (valid on all purchases made through our website until 1 December 2020).

Find out more about Berghahn at the AAA 2020 virtual conference here.

Visit each title’s book page to obtain freely accessible introductions.

Edited by Hilary Callan, Brian Street and Simon Underdown
Published in association with the Royal Anthropological Institute

Anthropology seeks to understand the roots of our common humanity, the diversity of cultures and world-views, and the organisation of social relations and practices. As a method of inquiry it embraces an enormous range of topics, and as a discipline it covers a multitude of fields and themes, as shown in this selection of original writings. As an accessible entry point, for upper-level students and first year undergraduates new to the study of anthropology, this reader also offers guidance for teachers in exploring the subject’s riches with their students. That anthropology is an immensely expansive inquiry of study is demonstrated by the diversity of its topics – from nature conservation campaigns to witchcraft beliefs, from human evolution to fashion and style, and from the repatriation of indigenous human remains to research on literacy. There is no single ‘story of anthropology’. Taken together, these fundamental readings are evidence of a contemporary, vibrant subject that has much to tell us about all the worlds in which we live.

The Unwritten Rules of Academia
Laura Nader

“Laura Nader has been one of American anthropology’s leading figures since the 1960s…She is one of the founders of legal anthropology, but also has been a profound, highly documented, loyal, and liberal voice throughout  the decades. With this collection of essays, she gives an interesting overview of the topics she has been working on…. Laura Nader continues [her] line of research, superbly. Her book must be read.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

Analyzing the workings of boundary maintenance in the areas of anthropology, energy, gender, and law, Nader contrasts dominant trends in academia with work that pushes the boundaries of acceptable methods and theories. Although the selections illustrate the history of one anthropologist’s work over half a century, the wider intent is to label a field as contrarian to reveal unwritten rules that sometimes hinder transformative thinking and to stimulate boundary crossing in others.

Mensah Adinkrah

“By attending to witch hunts in all its facets in Ghanaian society, [the author] offers the most in-depth examination of witchcraft to date… Although the author focuses on Ghana, the work draws attention to the fact that witchcraft-related violence is not unique to the country, but very much a part of global history, past and present. The wide variety of sources it pulls together and the human face it gives to witchcraft related violence are the biggest strengths of Witchcraft, Witches, and Violence. This is a valuable book for both undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and African studies.“ · International Journal of African Historical Studies (IJAHS)

Witchcraft violence is a feature of many contemporary African societies. In Ghana, belief in witchcraft and the malignant activities of putative witches is prevalent. Purported witches are blamed for all manner of adversities including inexplicable illnesses and untimely deaths. As in other historical periods and other societies, in contemporary Ghana, alleged witches are typically female, elderly, poor, and marginalized. Childhood socialization in homes and schools, exposure to mass media, and other institutional mechanisms ensure that witchcraft beliefs are transmitted across generations and entrenched over time. This book provides a detailed account of Ghanaian witchcraft beliefs and practices and their role in fueling violent attacks on alleged witches by aggrieved individuals and vigilante groups.

Power, Politics, and Humanitarian Governance
Edited by Adèle Garnier, Liliana Lyra Jubilut, and Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

“This edited collection promises to become a standard read for anyone interested in the topic of resettlement. The book offers a much-needed critical take on the problematic fusion of (quasi-)humanitarian and control-oriented politics that characterizes today’s global migration and refugee management…. [and] the authors offer a well-informed insight into how resettlement has been conceptualized and reformed in recent decades.” • Martin Geiger, Carleton University

Examining resettlement practices worldwide and drawing on contributions from anthropology, law, international relations, social work, political science, and numerous other disciplines, this ground-breaking volume highlights the conflicts between refugees’ needs and state practices, and assesses international, regional and national perspectives on resettlement, as well as the bureaucracies and ideologies involved. It offers a detailed understanding of resettlement, from the selection of refugees to their long-term integration in resettling states, and highlights the relevance of a lifespan approach to resettlement analysis.

Strathernian Conversations on Ethnography, Knowledge and Politics
Edited by Ashley Lebner
Afterword by Marilyn Strathern

“Ashley Lebner’s analytic synthesis of Strathern’s work is remarkable, the writing is elegant and the argument is convincing and important. The breadth of the analysis is impressive and allows for a very personal, sensitive, detailed and deep reading of Strathern’s practice to emerge…a tour-de-force!” · Emilia Sanabria, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon 

Marilyn Strathern is among the most creative and celebrated contemporary anthropologists, and her work draws interest from across the humanities and social sciences. Redescribing Relations brings some of Strathern’s most committed and renowned readers into conversation in her honour – especially on themes she has rarely engaged. The volume not only deepens our understanding of Strathern’s work, it also offers models of how to extend her relational insights to new terrains. With a comprehensive introduction, a complete list of Strathern’s publications and a historic interview published in English for the first time, this is an invaluable resource for Strathern’s old and new interlocutors alike.

The Design of Culture at Bang & Olufsen
Jakob Krause-Jensen

Shortlisted for the 2012 Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Prize

“[This book] certainly deserves to be added to the pile of worthy organizational ethnographies that should be around for longer than the latest issue of a journal. Ethnography doesn’t have ‘findings’ really, apart from endlessly gnawing away at the divide between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ between the familiar and the strange.  ·  Administrative Science Quarterly

Bang & Olufsen, the famous Danish producer of high-end home electronics, is well known as an early exponent of value-based management: the idea that there should be consistency in what the organisation does, a certain continuity between what the company develops and sells, and the beliefs and practices of the employees. This study investigates how company values are communicated and the collective identity is articulated through the use of such concepts as ‘culture’, ‘fundamental values’, and ‘corporate religion’, as well as how employees negotiate these ideas in their daily working lives. As this book reveals, the identification of values, meant to create cohesion and solidarity among employees, came to symbolise and engender a split between the staff and the other parts of the company. By examining the rise and fall of the value-based management approach, this volume offers the indispensible insight of anthropological enquiry to expose how social realities challenge conventional management strategies and therefore must be considered in the development of new management techniques.

Violence, Intolerance, and Political Culture in Sri Lanka and Australia
Bruce Kapferer
With contributions by Rohan Bastin, Barry Morris, David Rampton and Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne

“…this brilliant book [draws] contrasts worthy of heavy thought and heavier debate.”  ·  American Anthropologist

The civil war in Sri Lanka and the part that nationalism seemed to play in it inspired the writing of this book some twenty-three years ago. The argument was developed through a comparative analysis of nationalism in Sri Lanka with the author’s native Australia. At the time this constituted an innovative approach to comparison in anthropology, as well as to nationalism and its possibilities. It was not based on differences but on the way in which perspectives from within the two nationalisms, when seen side-by-side, could present an understanding of their implication in producing the violence of war, racism, and social exclusion. The book has lost none of its importance and urgency as proven by the chapters in the Appendix, written by top scholars working in Sri Lanka and in Australia. These contributions bring together new material and critically explore the book’s themes and their continued relevance to the various trajectories in nationalist processes since the first publication of the book.

Professional Anthropology in the Twenty-first Century
Edited by Sarah Pink

“The chapters in this book are all well executed and sprinkled through with references to classic anthropological theorists of the twentieth century…[It] establishes a very effective and thoughtful benchmark in a developing field of writing in anthropology, and deserves to become one of the central works in its field.” —Andrew Strathern & Pamela J. Stewart in JRAI

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the demand for anthropological approaches, understandings and methodologies outside academic departments is shifting and changing. Through a series of fascinating case studies of anthropologists’ experiences of working with very diverse organizations in the private and public sector this volume examines existing and historical debates about applied anthropology. It explores the relationship between the “pure and the impure” – academic and applied anthropology, the question of anthropological identities in new working environments, new methodologies appropriate to these contexts, the skills needed by anthropologists working in applied contexts where multidisciplinary work is often undertaken, issues of ethics and responsibility, and how anthropology is perceived from the ‘outside’. The volume signifies an encouraging future both for the application of anthropology outside academic departments and for the new generation of anthropologists who might be involved in these developments.

Edited by Christine McCourt


“In this fascinating, scholarly, and readable book the authors take us into our familiar worlds and make them strange, with the result that we can see clearly, with fresh, critical, and creative eyes, what goes on in our everyday world. Each of the chapters helps us see how differently time can be experienced and framed.” · Anthropology in Action

All cultures are concerned with the business of childbirth, so much so that it can never be described as a purely physiological or even psychological event. This volume draws together work from a range of anthropologists and midwives who have found anthropological approaches useful in their work. Using case studies from a variety of cultural settings, the writers explore the centrality of the way time is conceptualized, marked and measured to the ways of perceiving and managing childbirth: how women, midwives and other birth attendants are affected by issues of power and control, but also actively attempt to change established forms of thinking and practice. The stories are engaging as well as critical and invite the reader to think afresh about time, and about reproduction.

Exploring the Dynamics of Transformation
Edited by Don Handelman and Galina Lindquist

“[The authors’] perspective is a lucid voice, original and challenging, that talks about rituals as phenomenon on their own accord, worthy of analysis and explanation as cultural units of practice whose internal logic may be independent of and disconnected from other cultural logics, and even from those surrounding them. Indeed, this is a strong claim.”  ·  Israeli Sociology

Historically, canonic studies of ritual have discussed and explained ritual organization, action, and transformation primarily as representations of broader cultural and social orders. In the present, as in the past, less attention is given to the power of ritual to organize and effect transformation through its own dynamics. Breaking with convention, the contributors to this volume were asked to discuss ritual first and foremost in relation to itself, in its own right, and only then in relation to its socio-cultural context. The results attest to the variable capacities of rites to effect transformation through themselves, and to the study of phenomena in their own right as a fertile approach to comprehending ritual dynamics.