Handbook of Political Anthropology

Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
Year: 2018
Language: English

Edited by

Harald Wydra, Holden Fellow in Politics, St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, UK

Bjørn Thomassen, Professor, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University, Denmark

This ground-breaking collection introduces readers to the fascinating research field of political anthropology. The chapters engage in major theoretical and methodological debates to provide interpretive frames, analytical tools and ethnographic illustrations for culturally based interpretations of political phenomena, revealing the intersection between anthropology, culture, politics and international relations.


S. Coleman, J.-P. Daloz, G. de Anna, H. Donnan, T.H. Eriksen, R. Farneti, M. Fog Olwig, J. Gledhill, J. Gould, S. Haugbølle, A. Horvath, C. Illies, J. Kubik, N. Long, M. Mälksoo, K. Martin, M. Moodie, M. Nuijten, P. Rabinow, M. Rasaratnam, P. Raman, E. Ranta, A. Sanchez, D. Sausdal, A. Stavrianakis, F. Stepputat, A. Szakolczai, B. Thomassen, H. Vigh, H. Wydra

Book Review

The Handbook of Political Anthropology is an intriguing collection of interdisciplinary works that brings together the intersection of the political sphere with social, economic, legal and cultural patterns and practices. It highlights the importance of significance of this cross disciplinary work to break down well established boundaries between disciplines that tends to limit understandings, especially in a rapidly changing modern landscape. The contributors discuss fascinating insights of human conditions, often using anthropological tools that provide powerful explanations of contemporary problems. The subject matter is incredibly engaging and of significant importance to current political and social problems. The field of political anthropology may sound a promising ground for discoveries, however, consider what anthropology brings to the political sciences and the enormous potential for new ways to understand social and political phenomenon.

Other Notable Editorial Reviews

‘This wide-ranging collection challenges disciplinary boundaries to demonstrate the relevance of political anthropology to both old and new audiences. It offers refreshing takes on core anthropological themes and links classical theory to the quintessential questions of political life today in a compelling manner useful to diverse scholars, students, and practitioners.’
– Sara Shneiderman, University of British Columbia, Canada

Purchase online

The eBook version is priced from £22/$31 from Google Play and other eBook vendors, while in print the book can be ordered from the Edward Elgar Publishing website.


Introduction: the promise of political anthropology
Harald Wydra and Bjørn Thomassen

1. Recovering the classical foundations of political anthropology
Arpad Szakolczai

2. On the mimetic turn in the social sciences
Roberto Farneti

3. Charisma/trickster: on the twofold nature of power
Agnes Horvath

4. Contemporary political stakes: after-lives of the modern
Paul Rabinow and Anthony Stavrianakis

5. Political anthropology: biology, culture, and ethics
Gabriele De Anna and Christian Illies

6. Cultural intimacy and the politics of civility
Michael Herzfeld

7. Politics and the permanence of the sacred
Paul Dumouchel

8. Anthropology and the enigma of the state
Finn Stepputat and Monique Nuijten

9. Liminality and the politics of the transitional
Maria Mälksoo

10. The anthropology of political revolutions
Bjørn Thomassen

11. Comparative political analysis and the interpretation of meaning
Jean-Pascal Daloz

12. Anthropology and political ideology
Sune Haugbolle

13. Post-neoliberalism?
Keir Martin

14. The political and the religious: on the making of virtuous politics
Simon Coleman

15. The politics of development: anthropological perspectives
Jeremy Gould and Eija Ranta

16. Ethnographies of power
Jan Kubik

17. Postdemocracy and a politics of prefiguration
Nicholas J. Long

18. Feminist theory and reproduction
Megan Moodie

19. New war zones or evolving modes of insurgency warfare?
Morten Bøås

20. The political anthropology of borders and territory: European perspectives
Hastings Donnan, Bjørn Thomassen and Harald Wydra

21. The politics of movement and migration
Parvathi Raman

22. Security, securitization, desecuritization: how security produces insecurity
John Gledhill

23. Nature, politics, and climate change
Mette Fog Olwig

24. The fall and rise of class
Andrew Sanchez

25. The politics of ethno-religious violence
Madurika Rasaratnam

26. The anthropology of crime
Henrik Vigh and David Sausdal

27. Globalization
Thomas Hylland Eriksen

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