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Contrarian Anthropology: The Unwritten Rules of Academia

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Contrarian Anthropology

The Unwritten Rules of Academia

Laura Nader

504 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-706-2 $179.00/£132.00 / Hb / Published (January 2018)

ISBN  978-1-78533-708-6 $39.95/£31.95 / Pb / Published (January 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-707-9 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“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)

“The book works as a reminder of how the discipline has travelled over the past decades. It also reminds us of anthropology's traditional strength as a generalist discipline, a tradition that Nader fears is losing its force… She shows us how to talk about the things we care about while maintaining the integrity and rigour of our research. This book acts as a model for opening up anthropology, without flinching at the generalist stance that might be required.” • Irish Journal of Anthropology

“Overall, this volume reveals Nader to be a contrarian thinker who studies (and values) disputation, a legal anthropologist who studies the power differential between the governing and the governed, and a scholar who is committed to ethnography, hypothesis testing, and objectivity. Anyone interested in these topics will find this book an invaluable contribution to understanding both Nader’s life and anthropology more generally.” • Anthropological Forum

“This [amazingly informative] book comprises a collection of selected essays and articles and represents a retrospective of [Laura Nader’s] career, making it a gift to the anthropological community…An outstanding book whose general value lies in the broad historical perspective that it offers: a full immersion in the development of the discipline of anthropology in the United States and its consequences and influences throughout the rest of the academic and public world…[It]should be used as a textbook in almost every course in anthropology... Every anthropologist should read this book as a guide to let indignation be the creative force of our own research and challenge not only existing hegemonic forces, but also pillared paradigms within our discipline.” • Public Anthropology


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.

Laura Nader is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her current work focuses on how central dogmas are made and how they work. Her most recent publication is What the Rest Think of the West – Since 600 AD (University of California Press, 2015). In 1995, the Law and Society Association awarded her the Kalven Prize for distinguished research on law and society. Nader is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Subject: Anthropology (General)Theory and MethodologyCultural Studies (General)


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