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.