Anthropology and Civilizational Analysis

Eurasian Explorations

Edited by Johann P. Arnason & Chris Hann

Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, History, Religion, Archaeology
Series: SUNY series, Pangaea II: Global/Local Studies
Hardcover : 9781438469393, 414 pages, May 2018
Paperback : 9781438469409, 414 pages, January 2019

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Table of contents


Introduction: Making Contact and Mapping the Terrain
Johann P. Arnason

1. Mauss Revisited: The Birth of Civilizational Analysis from the Spirit of Anthropology
Johann P. Arnason

2. Approaching Civilization from an Anthropological Perspective: The Complexities of Norbert Elias
Hans Peter Hahn

3. Civilizational Analysis and Archaeology: Prospects for Collaboration
Yulia Prozorova

4. The Use and Abuse of Civilization: An Assessment from Historical Anthropology for South Arabia’s History
Andre Gingrich

5. Civilization as a Key Guiding Idea in South Asia
David N. Gellner

6. Indian Imbroglios: Bhakti Neglected; Or, The Missed Opportunities for a New Approach to a Comparative Analysis of Civilizational Diversity
Martin Fuchs

7. The Indianization and Localization of Textual Imaginaries: Theravada Buddhist Statecraft in Mainland Southeast Asia and Laos in the Context of Civilizational Analysis
Patrice Ladwig

8. Frontier as Civilization?: Sociocultural Dynamics in the Uplands of Southeast Asia
Oliver Tappe

9. Anthropology, Civilizational Analysis, and the Malay World
Joel S. Kahn

10. Chinese Civilization in Comparative Perspective: Some Markers
Stephan Feuchtwang

11. Technological Choices and Modern Material Civilization: Reflections on Everyday Toilet Practices in Rural South China
Gonçalo Santos

12. Theoretical Paradigm or Methodological Heuristic?: Reflections on Kulturkreislehre with Reference to China
YANG Shengmin and WU Xiujie

13. Nomads and the Theory of Civilizations
Nikolay N. Kradin

14. The “Orthodox,” “Eurasian,” or “Russian Orthodox” Civilization?
Milena Benovska-Sabkova

Afterword: Anthropology, Eurasia, and Global History
Chris Hann


This volume brings social and cultural anthropologists into dialogue with historical sociology and illustrates the continued potential of the concept of civilization for all participants.


The concept of civilization has a long but checkered history in anthropology, and anthropological materials have been of great importance for the development of civilizational analysis in historical sociology. Anthropology and Civilizational Analysis brings these diverse fields together and explores a wide range of topics pertaining to civilization, from classical theories to contemporary rhetorical discourses, including detailed case studies of concrete practices documented through archival and ethnographic research. While many scholars and the wider public still think of civilization in simplistic terms, viewing it in terms of Enlightenment notions of progress and evolution to higher stages, others have pluralized the term only to create essentialized units which are only tenuously linked to historical processes. In this book contributors use dynamic approaches, including those rooted in the seminal writings of Émile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, opening up the dimension of civilization as an important complement to other key terms such as society and culture in social science and historical analysis.

Johann P. Arnason is Emeritus Professor of Sociology, La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia and Associate of the Department of Historical Sociology in the Faculty of Human Studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. He is the author of Civilizations in Dispute: Historical Questions and Theoretical Traditions and editor of many books, including (with Marek Hrubec) Social Transformations and Revolutions: Reflections and Analyses. Chris Hann is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. He is the coauthor (with Keith Hart) of Economic Anthropology: History, Ethnography, Critique and the coeditor (with Stephen Gudeman) of Economy and Ritual: Studies of Postsocialist Transformations.