Anthropological theory has been much discussed in recent years, yet the crucial questions still remain--how can it be defined, how is it developed, how is it to be applied, and how can one confirm it? The editors of Anthropological Theory answer these questions by presenting essays relating to various aspects of anthropological theory. Their selections from widely scattered and often difficult-to-obtain sources present a comprehensive set of writings that describe the current position and issues involved in theory.
The development of field work in anthropology generated a tremendous emphasis on empirical data and research. The plethora of information awaiting collection and the enthusiasm with which the field embraced it so immersed anthropologists that they were unable to relate this new information to the field as a whole. Manners and Kaplan believe that this lack of generalization had a profoundly negative effect upon the discipline. Therefore, they look closely into the relationship between field work and theory in an opening essay and go on to present material that demonstrates the value and the necessity of theory in anthropology. Essays by anthropologists and other social scientists deal with "explanation," evolution, ecology, ideology, structuralism, and a number of other issues reflecting throughout the editors' conviction that anthropology is a science, the goal of which is to produce generalizations about sociocultural phenomena.
The book provides necessary perspective for examining and evaluating the crucial intellectual concerns of modern anthropology and will therefore be important for the work of every anthropologist.
Robert A. Manners (1913-1996) received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and carried on field work in the Caribbean, among American Indians in the Southwest, and in East Africa. He wrote numerous articles and reviews for anthropological journals as well as many books. He was professor of anthropology, Brandeis University where he started up the department.
David Kaplan is professor emeritus of anthropology at Brandeis University. He has contributed articles and reviews to various journals. He has also done field work in Mexico and his areas of specialty include economic anthropology, method and theory, and peasant culture of Mesoamerica.