In and Out of the West: Reconstructing Anthropology by Maurice Godelier examines whether anthropology is simply a continuation of colonial domination and cultural imperialism by other means, or has it—since its nineteenth-century rebirth as a purportedly scientific discipline—produced reliable knowledge about the cultures it studies? Is anthropology a mirror—which reflects only the preoccupations of the (Western) anthropologist—or a window, through which it is possible to see, though not with the same eyes as their members, other cultures?
Godelier places social anthropology in its historical perspective, with its origins in the West and, more particularly, colonialism, while also arguing that it has to some extent transcended its origins, achieving a measure of scientific objectivity and validity that cannot be reduced to a continuation of the colonial project. A final chapter discusses issues surrounding the presentation of non-western cultural artefacts to a Western general public.
Praise for Métamorphoses de la parenté:
“This is a blockbuster of a book. Nothing like it has been written since Lévi-Strauss’s Structures élémentaires de la parenté or Meyer Fortes’s Kinship and the Social Order. Yet in the sweep of its evidence and argument, Godelier’s summa is more ambitious and far-reaching than either of these. It is at once a major intervention in the discipline of anthropology, and a work of the widest human interest. The book is both a monument of scholarship and a gripping set of reflections on universal experience. It is certain to be read and discussed for years to come.”
Maurice Godelier is an internationally acclaimed anthropologist best known for his fieldwork among the Baruya, a New Guinea Highlands tribe, detailed in his ethnography The Making of Great Men. He is also the author of Métamorphoses de la parenté, The Enigma of the Gift and The Mental and the Material, among other important contributions. He is Director of Studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.