I do not know if I will ever have the benefit of formal post-undergraduate education in anthropology, but I do want to continue my anthropological learning. Having joined a neuro-economics lab at Virginia Tech as a research programmer, I now have, if not more time, at least the freedom and resources with which to improve my knowledge.

And so I am asking everyone here to suggest a reading list of no more than 10-30 books (or articles) for me to read (unfortunately the possibility that I might have already read them cannot be avoided without my exhaustively listing all of the books I have read). I ask that the selection be made with at least two considerations. First, that the selections be the sort of things that you would expect any well-educated Anthropology PhD to have read and secondly, to emphasize ethnography over theoretical tracts, except where warranted. I might also suggest that nothing too new be included, if only because its actual contribution to the field may not yet be ascertainable.

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J. M. Synge's The Aran Islands (1907) is available in free or almost free versions (html, epub, kindle etc) with a biographical introduction. It came out in the same year as his revolutionary play, The Playboy of the Western World. It is extraordinarily modern, decades in advance of anyone else. He was a folklorist, but his ethnography is highly reflexive and explicit about its interactive methods. Of course it is also well written. You can read more about him here. You can also watch Robert Flaherty's pioneering documentary, Man of Aran (1934).

Malinowski, the big books: Argonauts of the Western Pacific; Coral Gardens and Their Magic, Vols. I-II; The Sexual Life of Savages. I didn't get around to these until I wrote my chapter "Malinowski, Magic and Advertising" for John Sherry's Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior, SAGE, 1995. By then I was ready to realize that potboilers like Magic, Science and Religion and the stereotypes thrown around in theory classes seriously misrepresented the scale and sophistication of what Malinowski accomplished.

Building on John's comments, I'd add the following: Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Division of Labor in Society, Francis LaFesche's Osage and the Invisible World.

 

In grad-level work, it's likely that students will get a solid introduction to more contemporary theory and learn to eschew the classics that are dubbed "functionalist." However, looking back particularly on the Elementary Forms of Religious Life, I think that Durkheim, especially, had been utilized in certain ways that were productive for their time, but certainly not in a totalizing way. For example, one of his central themes was the concept of effervescence, which should be seen as relevant in today’s theoretical environment that stresses emergent and performative structure-in-agency and agency-in-structure.

 

The Division of Labor in Society is just good to read, in terms of foundational considerations of basic social cohesion, as well as a great lesson about how to approach sociological and anthropological topics in novel ways.

 

Osage and the Invisible World is a great work, both in its richness and implications (done on a related peoples by a Native American anthropologist, and demonstrating the high level of intelligence and reason built into the Osage worldview). It is a fascinating read for any anthropologist, I’d say.

Also, I'd add Levi-Strauss' Structural Anthropology (Volume One) and Myth and Meaning. Myth and Meaning is particularly fun to read, and not very long. Renato Rosaldo's Culture and Truth is another good one.

I hesitated to mention my favourite classical author, but I do think that Durkheim's last book on religion has the most unexplored potential for us of any of the books left by the founders of modern social theory. I would link it with Roy Rappaport's Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (1999) as the twin foundations of any anthropology of religion in future.

Perhaps a little smaller, but I found subtly solid

Yali’s Question: Sugar, Culture, and History by Frederick Errington and Deborah Gewertz

If you have read either of the books referenced below, perhaps you'll share your take on them, Keith.  Thanks!

http://www.amazon.com/Religion-Emergence-Civilization-%25c7atalh%25...

http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Neolithic-Mind-Consciousness-Cosmos/dp...

Keith Hart said:

I hesitated to mention my favourite classical author, but I do think that Durkheim's last book on religion has the most unexplored potential for us of any of the books left by the founders of modern social theory. I would link it with Roy Rappaport's Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (1999) as the twin foundations of any anthropology of religion in future.

Hello, Jacob

Whether "Lightning Warrior", by Matthew Looper (superlative Mayanist epigrapher/art historian), would make a must-read list concocted by knowledgeable anthropologists, I couldn't say.  I will say that this book about kingship, ritual, and beliefs at Classic Maya Quirigua in lowland Guatemala is fascinating and authoritative.  Looper makes the magnificent stelae and zoomorphic boulders speak!

Unfortunately I haven't. But tell us about what you got from them.

Sorry, I thought I had replied to this earlier.  Answer: No, I haven't read them.  Was fishing for a cogent review.

Keith Hart said:

Unfortunately I haven't. But tell us about what you got from them.

A few books:

Anything by George Stocking for the history of anthropology angle.

Eric Wolf: Europe and the People Without History

William Roseberry: Anthropologies and Histories

Michel Rolf Trouillot: Global Transformations

Marcel Mauss: The Gift

A 2nd vote for Keith's Synge suggestion. For American cultural anthropology, some accessible classics include Basso's _Wisdom Sits in Places_, Geertz' _Islam Observed_, and Mintz' _Sweetness and Power_. Someone wanting state of the ethnography by American folklorists could look at Noyes' _Fire in the Plaça_, Cashman's _Storytelling on the Northern Irish Border_, Foster's _Pandemonium and Parade_, and Shukla's _Grace of Four Moons_.

Here's my list -I hope you may find something that you'd like to read. I can't say if I would expect any well educated PhD to have read these because I don't know many and I followed my interests on my own to find and read this stuff

"Being Affected" -Jeannne Favret-Saada- ariticle in current issue of Hau-Journal of Ethnographic Theory

http://haujournal.org/

Economies of Abandonment-Elizabeth Povinelli

Democratic Insecurities: Violence, Trauma and Intervention in Haiti-Erica James

The School of the Americas:Military Training and Political Violence in the Americas-Lesley Gill

Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights and the African Poor-Harri Englund

Human Rights and African Airwaves: Mediating Equality on the Chichewa Radio-Harri Englund

Ethnographic Sorcery-Harry G. West

The Gender of the Gift-Marilyn Strathern

The Savage Within: The Social History of British Anthropology 1885-1945-Henrika Kuklick

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