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Marcel Mauss: A Centenary Tribute

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Volume 1

Methodology & History in Anthropology

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Marcel Mauss

A Centenary Tribute

Edited by Wendy James and N. J. Allen†

256 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-703-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 1998)

ISBN  978-1-57181-705-1 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (December 1998)

eISBN 978-1-78920-569-5 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


"Each of the essays in this volume deals with various facets of his work, and all of them should be read."   · American Anthropologist

“This book offers a unique insight into the influence of one of the discipline’s most important theorists. James and Allen are thoughtful editors ... their respect produces the best form of criticism in fourteen essays by British, and other European, anthropologists ... This is intriguing and stimulating reading ... Mauss’s work receives careful attention in this book which is helpful, incisive, and broadly significant to anthropology.”  ·  JRAI


Marcel Mauss, successor of Emile Durkheim and one-time teacher of Claude Levi-Strauss, continues to inspire social scientists across various disciplines. Only selected texts of Mauss's work have been translated into English, but of these, some, as for instance his "Essay on the Gift," have proved of key significance for the development of anthropology internationally.

Recently and starting in France, the interest in Mauss's work has increased noticeably as witnessed by several reassessments of its relevance to current social theory. This collection of original essays is the first to introduce the English-language reader to the current re-evaluation of his ideas in continental Europe. Themes include the post-structuralist appraisal of "exchange", the anthropology of the body, practical techniques, gesture systems, the notions of substance, materiality, and the social person. There are fresh insights into comparative politics and history, modern forms of charity, and new readings of some political and historical aspects of Mauss's work that bear on the analysis of regions such as Africa and the Middle East, relatively neglected by the Durkheimian school and by structuralism. This volume is a timely tribute to mark the centenary of Mauss' early work and confirms the continuing relevance of his ideas.

Wendy James has taught at the University of Khartoum and has research experience in the Sudan and Ethiopia. She is currently Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford.

After studying classics and medicine N. J. Allen qualified in Social Anthropology at Oxford, undertaking fieldwork in Nepal. He was Reader in the Social Anthropology of South Asia at the University of Oxford.

Subject: Theory and Methodology Sociology

An interview with the anthropologist Wendy James about her life and work. Filmed by Alan Macfarlane on 15th May 2009 and edited by Sarah Harrison.




Chapter 1. ‘One of us’: Marcel Mauss and ‘English’ anthropology
Wendy James


Chapter 2. An intellectual self-portrait
Marcel Mauss

Chapter 3. Mauss’s Jewish background: a biographical essay
W. S. F. Pickering


Chapter 4. A vague but suggestive concept: the ‘total social fact’
Alexander Gofman

Chapter 5. The Maussian shift: a second foundation for sociology in France?
Bruno Karsenti

Chapter 6. Derrida’s reading of Mauss
Tim Jenkins


Chapter 7. Uncertainties of the ‘obligation to reciprocate’: a critique of Mauss
Alain Testart

Chapter 8. Mutual deception: totality, exchange, and Islam in the Middle East
Paul Dresch

Chapter 9. Modern philanthropy: reassessing the viability of a Maussian perspective
Ilana Silber

Chapter 10. Mauss, Dumont, and the distinction between status and power Materiality, body, history
Jonathan Parry


Chapter 11. The category of substance: a Maussian theme revisited
N. J. Allen

Chapter 12. The study of techniques as an ideological challenge: technology, nation, and humanity in the work of
Marcel Mauss
Nathan Schlanger

Chapter 13. Form, movement, and posture in Mauss: themes for today’s anthropology
Claudine Haroche

Chapter 14. Mauss in Africa: on time, history, and politics
Wendy James

Select Bibliography
A: Reading Mauss in French
B: Work by Mauss available in English
C: Selected secondary sources

Notes on contributors

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