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William Robertson Smith
120 pages, 10 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-80073-157-8 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (August 2021)
ISBN 978-1-80073-158-5 $24.95/£19.95 / Pb / Published (August 2021)
eISBN 978-1-80073-159-2 eBook
“This book, written by the editor [of the new series Anthropology’s Ancestors] himself, provides an excellent overview of Smith’s life, his contributions notably to the study of religion in its social context, and his legacy in twentieth-century anthropology…Bošković, who is a seasoned theorist of myth in his own right, has produced a very readable, useful book about the little-known work of one of the scholars on whose shoulders twentieth-century anthropologists are perched.” • Anthropological Journal of European Cultures (AJEC)
“Aleksandar Boskovic has written a nuanced, reliable, highly recommendable guide through the life and opus of Robertson Smith, which, on a more general level, is also a journey through the beginnings and later developments of social anthropology.” • Starinar
“This is a clear, well-informed and interesting account of Robertson Smith’s central ideas. The theories are set in the context of debates of the day, and their influence on anthropology and bible studies is discussed. An original and fascinating section reviews Robertson Smith’s field work in the Middle East, which was much more extensive and intensive than is, I think, generally appreciated.” • Adam Kuper, London School of Economics
The life and career of one of anthropology’s most important ancestors, William Robertson Smith in the context of the history of anthropology.
William Robertson Smith’s influence on anthropology ranged from his relationship with John Ferguson McLennan, to advising James George Frazer to write about “Totem” and “Taboo” for the Encyclopaedia Britannica that he edited. This biography places a special emphasis on the notes and observations from his travels to Arabia, as well as on his influence on the representatives of the “Myth and Ritual School.”
With his discussion of myth and ritual, Smith influenced generations of scholars, and his insistence on the connection between the people, their God, and the land they inhabited inspired many of the concepts later developed by Émile Durkheim.
“This is a clear, well-informed and interesting account of Robertson Smith’s central ideas. The theories are set in the context of debates of the day, and their influence on anthropology and bible studies is discussed. An original and fascinating section reviews Robertson Smith’s field work in the Middle East, which was much more extensive and intensive than is, I think, generally appreciated.”—Adam Kuper, London School of Economics
From the introduction:
Although respected and studied, especially since the 1990s, Smith has a somewhat paradoxical position in the history of social and cultural anthropology. Anthropologists educated in the twentieth century admire him, but many contemporary scholars are not quite sure what to make of him.
Aleksandar Bošković is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Archaeology in Belgrade. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including Other People's Anthropologies: Ethnographic Practice on the Margins (Berghahn, 2008).
Subject: Anthropology (General)
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