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Lewis Henry Morgan's Comparisons
Reassessing Terminology, Anarchy and Worldview in Indigenous Societies of America, Australia and Highland Middle India
236 pages, 30 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-317-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2019)
eISBN 978-1-78920-318-9 eBook
“This book is the result of a lifetime’s work on the kinship systems of the indigenous people of Highland Odisha… For me [its] two key merits are the thoughtful reappraisal of Morgan it offers and the new data it presents on a much-neglected region of India.” • Chris Gregory, Australian National University
About 150 years ago Lewis Henry Morgan compared relationship terminologies, societal forms and ideas of property to recognize the interdependence of the three domains. From a new perspective, the book re-examines, confirms and criticizes Morgan’s findings to conclude that reciprocal affinal relations determine most ‘classificatory’ terminologies and regulate many non-state societies, their property notions and their rituals. Apart from references to American and Australian features, such holistic socio-cultural constructs are exemplified by elaborate descriptions of little known contemporary Indigenous societies in Highland Middle India, altogether comprising many millions of members.
Georg Pfeffer (1943-2020) was Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin from 1985 to 2008. He participated in two long-term Orissa Research Projects of the German Research Foundation (DFG) to conduct extended ethnographic fieldwork in several indigenous societies of the Indian provinces Odisha and Jharkhand. He was also part of the group which founded the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in 1989.