Breaking the Frames: Anthropological Conundrums
. Envisions a new, people-centered approach to anthropological analysis
. Develops "Mindful Anthropology" as a new standard for the discipline
. Proposes revised methods of constructing anthropological theory
This book argues that the breaking and re-making of frames of analysis underlie the history of theorizing in anthropology. Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew J. Strathern note that this mode of analysis risks fabricating over-essentialized dichotomies between viewpoints. The authors advocate a mindful, nuanced, people-centered approach to all theorizing - one that avoids total system approaches (-isms) and suggest that theory should relate cogently to ethnography. Mindful anthropology, as this book envisages it, is not a specific theory but a philosophical aspiration for the discipline as a whole.
"This is the first 'history' of anthropology to actually challenge how we think about our work by questioning perspectives that were taken for granted and exploring those moments when 'breaking the frames' shifted our understanding of humans as meaning-making beings. The challenge here is to practice a 'mindful anthropology,' even a kind of collaborative reflexivity, to break closed frames that constrain creative thinking." (Naomi M. McPherson, Associate Professor Emerita of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada)
"Pamela Stewart and Andrew Strathern develop a tremendously important and timely argument about the history and nature of theorizing in anthropology. This book powerfully shows the tendency of anthropologists to follow theoretical fashions with only limited reference to intellectual history. The authors note the often suppressive nature of fashion-driven trends of theorizing, with their tendency to marginalize scholars who pursue different approaches. Breaking the Frames should be required reading for all theory courses in anthropology." (John Traphagan, Associate Chair and Professor of Religious Studies, University of Texas atAustin, USA)
"This is a bold and thoughtful endeavour that brings insight to the methodological and theoretical legacies of anthropology. While discussing the great theories, it remains close to the human issues at stake and paves the way for mindful anthropology. I am sure it will provoke a fruitful and lively debate, as it leaves readers with a need to think again about human life and how we understand the world." (Anne SigfridGronseth, Professor at Lillehammer University College, Norway)
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