Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology

by David Levinson Melvin Ember
Four volumes

Prepared under the auspices of Yale University’s Human Relations Area Files, this huge reference work contains 340 articles on every aspect of human culture and society. Although designed for use by cultural anthropologists, many of the topics extend far into archaeology, linguistics and biological anthropology. 310 expert authors write on topics ranging from optimal foraging theory to the Mead-Freeman controversy, from frameworks like cultural materialism to methods of data collection. Each article is followed by a bibliography valid up to the mid 1990s and the entries are extensively cross-referenced.

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From Library Journal
Anthropology reference has at last reached maturity; with the publication of this four-volume encyclopedia, a full complement of resources now exists. In the past decade, several major works have filled significant gaps in the literature: Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory (Garland, 1988), Encyclopedia of World Cultures (LJ 3/15/91), and International Dictionary of Anthropologists (LJ 1/92). Sponsored by Yale University’s Human Relations Area Files, the Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology is the icing on the cake. It has been developed to emphasize the cross-cultural perspective, holistic approach, and practice of fieldwork that demark cultural anthropology. Written by experts and accompanied by a bibliography and cross references, the 340 lengthy entries mainly comprise subjects, theoretical constructs, geographical/cultural areas, cultural groups, and important organizations related to anthropology. Including treatments of various aspects of archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistics has increased the work’s value. Biographies do not earn individual entries, but major figures are covered where appropriate within the articles. One drawback is the appendix listing periodicals, which adds nothing of substance; one could even quibble that the titles are all serials but not necessarily periodicals. The editors state that the audience should range from high school students to scholars, and while an aim this broad is rather hard to achieve, anyone seeking in-depth information on cultural anthropology will find this encyclopedia to be an appropriate resource. Essential for libraries that want to remain current in their social science collections.
Joyce L. Ogburn, Old Dominion Univ. Lib, Norfolk, Va.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.