Fredrik Barth: An intellectual biography

As  a new biography of social anthropologist Fredrik Barth is published this month, we ask the author Thomas Hylland Eriksen, himself a renowned anthropologist, to expand on why he chose his subject…

‘Social scientists come in many shapes, some more interesting than others. One of the Fredrik Barthextremes is the wide-ranging scholar who circles the planet in a helicopter with a pair of binoculars, eventually developing a theory about life, the universe and everything. The opposite extreme is the khaki-clad explorer crawling on all fours while peering at the grains of sand on the beach through a magnifying glass. This is the end of the continuum where most anthropologists find themselves. Yet, the grains of sand are not enough. Indeed, a major ambition of anthropology consists in ‘seeing the world in a grain of sand’ (Blake), building social theory from everyday events in ordinary communities and discussing human universals through the life-worlds of a few individuals leading perfectly average lives anywhere in the world.

In this endeavour, Fredrik Barth (b. 1928) is an undisputed master. One of the most influential anthropologists of the latter half of the 20th century, Barth’s career spans six decades and has brought him to more than a dozen field sites. This book tells the story of Barth’s life from his student days in Chicago just after the war to his retirement years in Oslo; and in doing so, it highlights the power of the ethnographic gaze and the critical potential inherent in an anthropological approach to human life. At its best, anthropology can tell us that everything could have been different, that there are many roads to the good life, and that the present social order does not necessarily constitute ‘the best of all possible worlds’ (Leibniz). Anthropology treats all lives in an equitable way, giving no pride of place to the pale and powerful.

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The revolution will be digitised | Pluto backlist titles on eBook in 2014

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New eBooks

It’s all change here at Pluto in 2014. Last year we digitised over thirty books that were previously only available in print, or no longer in print at all. But these books are just the tip of the iceberg; the calm before the storm: 2014 will see even more of our most important books, whether classics from the vault, or recent best-sellers, getting the eBook treatment. You can find out everything you need to about future developments on our website at www.plutobooks.com/page/ebooks.

Special offers (up to 66% off)

In order to celebrate the release of Pluto’s backlist on eBook we’re offering special introductory prices, so for a limited time only, almost all of them are on sale for just £10 – some are a little more expensive at £12; some even cheaper at £5…

Click on the image below to view the catalogue of backlist titles on eBook. The special prices will last until 31st March, so get in there quick. Authors include Thomas Hylland Eriksen, John Holloway, Uri Gordon, Penny Green & Tony Ward, Robin Hahnel, Marianne Maeckelbergh, Media Lens, Andy Merrifield, Israel Shahak, Michael Woodin & Caroline Lucas.

Front Cover lores

Can’t find what you’re looking for? If there are any of our books that you’d like to see turned into an ebook then please let us know – you can email us at marketing@plutobooks.comPrefer print? Don’t worry, Pluto is committed to traditional ink and paper publishing too…

Special offer! 15% discount and free UK P&P on key Anthropology titles

To mark the release of the second edition of Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Finn Sivert Nielsen’s seminal A History of Anthropology, we are offering a 15% discount and free UK P&P on the book and other key Anthropology titles.

To browse the list of titles on offer and buy them at the special discount price enter the discount code PLUANTHRO here.

A History of Anthropology – Second Edition

Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Finn Sivert Nielsen

Thoroughly updated and revised edition of a popular classic of modern anthropology.

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

Small Places, Large Issues – Third Edition

An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

New edition of the classic introduction to anthropology, focusing on central topics such as kinship, ethnicity, ritual and political systems.

“This book fills a gap in the market and fills it in an exemplary fashion.” – Journal of Area Studies

£18.99 only £17.00 on the Pluto site

Anthropology’s World

Life in a Twenty-First-Century Discipline

Ulf Hannerz

Maps the contemporary social world of anthropologists and its relation to the wider world in which they carry out their work.

“Ulf Hannerz takes readers behind-the-scenes with wit, insight, political acuity, and a good measure of humanity. His observations about the frequent privileging of English in today’s ‘global discipline’ and its consequences are especially sharp.” – Virginia R. Dominguez, President, American Anthropological Association, Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Co-Founder and Consulting Director, International Forum for U.S. Studies

“Widely admired as a leading anthropologist of globalisation, Hannerz … shows how anthropology came to be a central intellectual discipline, and why it should stay that way in a globalised world where the local refuses to be beaten into submission.” – Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

New Books from Pluto in May – Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance | Biohackers | Beyond the Developmental Sate | Organisational Anthropology | History of Anthropology, 2nd. Ed.

Good morning radicals and book-lovers! With May in full swing, and a second bank holiday almost upon us you’re probably in need of some more reading material.

We have five titles for your perusal this month, including a double update to our Anthropology, Culture and Society series. Read on below for more info, and remember that you can get all of them from our website with a 10% discount!

The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance

Hacking the Future of Money

Brett Scott

Shows how activists can tap into the internal dynamics of the sector to disrupt it and showcases the growing alternative finance movement.

“This is an imaginative, even exuberant exploration of the daunting world of finance – it will unleash a generation of activists, and do a world of good.” – Bill McKibben, author of ‘Deep Economy’

“This book provides a unique inside-out look at our financial system, based on the author’s unusual personal adventure. It is not only a user-friendly guide to the complex maze of modern finance but also a manual for utilising and subverting it for social purposes in innovative ways. Smart and street-smart. “ – Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of ’23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism’

£12.99 only £11.50 on the Pluto site

Biohackers

The Politics of Open Science

Alessandro Delfanti

Explores fundamental changes occurring in the circulation and ownership of scientific information.

“Hacking, most often associated with the realm of bits and bytes, is now firmly entrenched in the world of biology. Alessandro Delfanti provides the definitive account covering the early, formative history of bio-hackers, a motley cohort of scientists, entrepreneurs, and amateur tinkers who are insisting on openness for their scientific enterprise.
Written with nuance and precision, Delfanti examines key actors who drew inspiration from long-standing scientific norms and the philosophy of free software in order to re-imagine and reconstitute their ethos so as to be built upon openness and access. While this story is still unfolding, Delfanti’s engrossing account provides a vital road map essential to understand the past, present, and future of bio-hacking.”
– Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy,McGill University and author of Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking (2012).

“Alessandro Delfanti’s book is a deft and accessible introduction to the changing face of science in the new century. ing, most often associated with the realm of bits and bytes, is now firmly entrenched in the world of biology. Alessandro Delfanti provides the definitive account covering the early, formative history of bio-hackers, a motley cohort of scientists, entrepreneurs, and amateur tinkers who are insisting on openness for their scientific enterprise.
Written with nuance and precision, Delfanti examines key actors who drew inspiration from long-standing scientific norms and the philosophy of free software in order to re-imagine and reconstitute their ethos so as to be built upon openness and access. While this story is still unfolding, Delfanti’s engrossing account provides a vital road map essential to understand the past, present, and future of bio-hacking.” – Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy,McGill University and author of Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking (2012).
“Alessandro Delfanti’s book is a deft and accessible introduction to the changing face of science in the new century. He brings a journalist’s skill, a scientist’s skepticism and an activist’s passion to the question of open science today. The work offers an expert analysis of the global politics of big science and the details and pleasures, the successes and failures, of small-scale amateur and DIY biology. From the lucid writing emerges the story of a new ethic of sharing and decoding life – whether viewed under the microscope or lived out in hackerspaces and garage labs.” – Christopher Kelty, Associate Professor of Information Studies and Anthropology, Institute for Society and Genetics, UCLA
“The biohackers are here. In this fascinating book, Alessandro Delfanti
shows us how a new generation of scientists is breaking open
the study of biology with the kinds of countercultural tools first used to hack the computer. Thanks to their work, science may never be the same again.
” – Fred Turner, Associate Professor of Communication, Stanford UniversityHe brings a journalist’s skill, a scientist’s skepticism and an activist’s passion to the question of open science today. The work offers an expert analysis of the global politics of big science and the details and pleasures, the successes and failures, of small-scale amateur and DIY biology. From the lucid writing emerges the story of a new ethic of sharing and decoding life – whether viewed under the microscope or lived out in hackerspaces and garage labs.”
– Christopher Kelty, Associate Professor of Information Studies and Anthropology, Institute for Society and Genetics, UCLA

£19.99 only £17.50 on the Pluto site

Beyond the Developmental State

Industrial Policy into the Twenty-first Century

Edited by Ben Fine, Jyoti Saraswati and Daniela Tavasci

Exposes the theoretical and empirical limitations of the developmental state paradigm, offering policy alternatives.

“A very important book. The contributions are highly original and this work is likely to inform the emergence of a new branch of the literature on economic development. The volume is particularly timely because of the continuing relevance of developmental-state debates given the long-term ‘decline of the West and rise of the rest’ and the current economic crisis.” – Alfredo Saad-Filho, Professor of Political Economy, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

“The developmental state has become a central concept in alternatives to the dominant neoliberal narratives of development. Fine and his colleagues combine a critical assessment of the existing literature with a series of country studies to show how powerful economic interests continue to shape the actions and effectiveness of the state. A valuable contribution to the search for inclusive and sustainable development strategies.” – Richard Kozul-Wright, Head, Unit on Economic Cooperation and Integration Among Developing Countries, UNCTAD

£24.99 only £22.00 on the Pluto site

Organisational Anthropology

Doing Ethnography in and Among Complex Organisations

Edited by Christina Garsten and Anette Nyqvist

A pioneering analysis of doing ethnographic fieldwork in different types of complex organisations.

“Christina Garsten and Anette Nyquvist have put together baker’s dozen of fresh and lively first-hand accounts of carrying out ethnographic fieldwork in contemporary organizational settings – from convenience stores to high tech firms, from think tanks to advertising companies. That classical anthropological interests and means are highly relevant in such settings – although strained and stretched in various ways – is a point brought home vividly across the selections. This is a work that will appeal not only to anthropologists but also to all those with a scholarly or practical interest in culture and organization.
– John Van Maanen, Erwin Schell Professor of Organisation Studies at MIT, author of Tales of the Field (2011)

“The engagement between organization studies and anthropology is both longstanding and rapidly developing. In this fascinating volume some of the leading exponents of organizational anthropology reflect on its history and future directions; its potentials and pitfalls. The book is an invaluable resource for all those who research organizations or are simply interested in the nature, both extraordinary and mundane, of organizational life as disclosed by anthropological study.” – Christopher Grey, Professor of Organisation Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London

£60 only £54.00 on the Pluto site

A History of Anthropology – Second Edition

Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Finn Sivert Nielsen

Thoroughly updated and revised edition of a popular classic of modern anthropology.

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

Thomas Hylland Eriksen on BBC Radio 4’s Today

Renowned professor of social anthropology and Pluto author, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, (Small Places, Large Issues; Ethnicity and Nationalism) appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, discussing the public mood in Norway in the minutes preceding the sentencing of Anders Behring Breivik. Today the Norwegian court unanimously declared Breivik sane, and handed down the maximum-allowable sentence of 21 years in jail for the murder of 77 people, and the wounding of a further 242, perpetrated by Breivik in a killing spree on 22 July 2011.

Professor Eriksen made several remarks in the interview. On the subject of the extent to which such a national trauma will affect Norway, and how much the country may change as a result, Eriksen said:

“We’re going to have to live with this forever. There will be commemorative events every year on 22nd of July, where people are going to tell each other ‘never again’: 22nd of July. The big question is ‘what exactly is that going to mean?’ Some call for more security, more police, armed police on the streets, monitoring of extreme groups and that sort of thing, whereas others are more concerned with looking at the underlying causes of the terrorist attack. To do with changes in Norwegian society, basically, and to some extent, disagreements over immigration, and integration of minorities.”

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After the massacre: Thomas Hylland Eriksen on possible causes and consequences

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

The horrific bomb attack and massacre by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway is sure to generate a lot of commentary over the coming weeks.

Some useful reflections have come already from Thomas Hylland Eriksen, professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo and author of numerous acclaimed books on anthropology including Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology.

Writing on Open Democracy Eriksen describes how he was at home in Oslo when the attacks began:

In the afternoon, as I was working in the garden and my son was practicing with his football, we heard a loud crash, as if lightning had struck. Dark clouds began to loom nearby. We didn’t think any more about it. Only half an hour later, however, I was rung up by a friend who asked me to turn on my computer. From then onwards, events took an increasingly dramatic turn as the afternoon gave way to evening, evening to night, and gradually the full extent of the atrocities became known.

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