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Human Nature as Capacity: Transcending Discourse and Classification

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Volume 20

Methodology & History in Anthropology

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Human Nature as Capacity

Transcending Discourse and Classification

Edited by Nigel Rapport

224 pages, 13 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-637-5 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (March 2010)

ISBN  978-0-85745-810-0 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (March 2013)

eISBN 978-1-84545-815-7 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is an engaging collection which is enhanced by the editor’s agenda and his clear and challenging statement of purpose. The notion of ‘going beyond’ is important, and is well realised in his broad, scholarly, and well-argued introduction…a substantial contribution to anthropological theorising about human beings as such, as that enterprise now stands.”  ·  Michael Carrithers, Durham University


What is it to be human? What are our specifically human attributes, our capacities and liabilities? Such questions gave birth to anthropology as an Enlightenment science. This book argues that it is again appropriate to bring “the human” to the fore, to reclaim the singularity of the word as central to the anthropological endeavor, not on the basis of the substance of a human nature – “To be human is to act like this and react like this, to feel this and want this” – but in terms of species-wide capacities: capabilities for action and imagination, liabilities for suffering and cruelty. The contributors approach “the human” with an awareness of these complexities and particularities, rendering this volume unique in its ability to build on anthropology’s ethnographic expertise.

Nigel Rapport is Professor of Anthropological and Philosophical Studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and directs the Centre for Cosmopolitan Studies. He also held the Canada Research Chair in Globalization, Citizenship and Justice at Concordia University, Montreal, and he has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Recent publications include 'I am Dynamite': An Alternative Anthropology of Power (Routledge, 2003) and Of Orderlies and Men: Hospital Porters Achieving Wellness at Work (Carolina Academic Press, 2008).

Subject: Theory and Methodology


List of Illustrations
List of Contributors

Introduction: Human Capacity as an Exceeding, a Going  Beyond
Nigel Rapport


Introduction to Part I
Nigel Rapport

Chapter 1. Conversations with Eulogio: On Migration and the Building of a Life-Project in Motion
Nelson Ferguson

Chapter 2. The Limits of Liminality: Capacities for Change and Transition among Student Travellers
Vered Amit


Introduction to Part II
Nigel Rapport

Chapter 3. 'Crisis': On the Limits of European Integration and Identity in Northern Ireland
Thomas M. Wilson

Chapter 4. Making the Cosmopolitan Plea: Harold Oram's International Fund-raising in the Early Cold War
Laura Suski


Introduction to Part III
Nigel Rapport

Chapter 5. Money, Materiality and Imagination: Life on the Other Side of Value
Andrew Irving

Chapter 6. Acts of Entification: The Emergence of Thinghood in Social Life
Tord Larsen


Introduction to Part IV
Nigel Rapport

Chapter 7. Embodied  Cognition, Communication and the Making of Place and Identity: Reflections on Fieldwork with Masons
Trevor H.J. Marchand

Chapter 8. 'Live in Fragments no Longer': Social Dance and Individual Imagination in Human Nature
Jonathan Skinner


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