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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Introduction to Economic Anthropology
Economic Anthropology by Chris Hann and Keith Hart is a book that aims to re-introduce economic anthropology to the broader anthropological tradition.

The book is a combination of the history, the relevance and the practise of economic anthropology throughout the last few centuries. The authors begin by addressing the aims of economic anthropology, then address...
Published on 7 Jun 2011 by Antonis

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to economic anthropology
"Economic Anthropology" by Hann & Hart seeks to introduce the subject of anthropological analysis of modern and historical economic themes in a simple and straightforward way. Clearly aimed at readers unfamiliar with the subject entirely, it provides a cursory, if systematic historical overview of the different schools in the field and their historical relationship to...
Published on 20 Feb 2012 by M. A. Krul


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to economic anthropology, 20 Feb 2012
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M. A. Krul (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Economic Anthropology (Paperback)
"Economic Anthropology" by Hann & Hart seeks to introduce the subject of anthropological analysis of modern and historical economic themes in a simple and straightforward way. Clearly aimed at readers unfamiliar with the subject entirely, it provides a cursory, if systematic historical overview of the different schools in the field and their historical relationship to each other. The authors discuss the origins of the concept of the economy, the views of Marx and Polanyi, the formalist-substantivist debate, the turns to culture and anthropology of the West and the feminist critique, and so forth. There is also room for a brief discussion of economic anthropology's relationship to development economics and to economic theory more generally, especially of the socialist kind.

It is not easy to summarize such a potentially massive topic as the overlap between anthropology and similar social science approaches and historical theories of the economy, and the authors are to be lauded for their clear and concise treatment of the topic. However, the book is marred by a number of greater and lesser flaws, which make it fail to live up to its potential. In general, "Economic Anthropology" is often too cursory an overview, and the treatment even of major authors ends up giving them short shrift in terms of their significance, which would make it difficult for a complete newcomer to judge the relevance or irrelevance of historical theories for current practice. Secondly, the work is mired in an annoyingly superficial liberal outlook: the authors go out of their way to defend the significance of 'the market' and 'money' throughout all societies, and their treatment of socialist economies is quite inept. It is in particular bizarre to see in a book of this kind a highly flawed and superficial defense of the current Chinese state-led economy as the way forward between the poles of too much market and too much state, itself a fairly obsolete dichotomy - whatever modern China is, it certainly isn't a revival of the "human economy", as the authors' rosy view suggests. The authors' obsession with the internet as a new all-changing paradigm for politics is also disappointing. Finally, the book's judgements occasionally lead it to make outright absurd claims: Janos Kornai was not a "market fundamentalist" (128); Marx did not "restrict the definition of capital to its form as money" (144), nor did he argue that "wage slavery under capitalism was fundamentally similar to feudal serfdom". One can also not refute rational choice theories by using evidence of emotions through brain scanners(!) (93).

That said the book also has some clear positive points that stand out, apart from its easy and concise overview. The authors include some good discussions of the practical shortcomings of formalist approaches in economic anthropology, and their continual emphasis on the importance of constructing a more universalizing theory, capable of joining up with the other social sciences, rather than sticking to localized fieldwork and thick cultural descriptions is highly welcome. As Hann & Hart point out, the very existence of an economic anthropology has at times come into question because of excessive particularism or formalist problematics; it is now time for it to join a better economic history than the new institutional kind and a better economics than the neoclassical kind in a new project for the historical social sciences.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Introduction to Economic Anthropology, 7 Jun 2011
This review is from: Economic Anthropology (Paperback)
Economic Anthropology by Chris Hann and Keith Hart is a book that aims to re-introduce economic anthropology to the broader anthropological tradition.

The book is a combination of the history, the relevance and the practise of economic anthropology throughout the last few centuries. The authors begin by addressing the aims of economic anthropology, then address the evolution of the discipline, its antagonism with economic theory, its rise and decline, and conclude with their personal view for the future of economic anthropology. The historical divisions between different schools of thought and anthropological traditions are also explained in some detail. The book also covers the responses of anthropologists to various economic developments of the previous century, such as socialism, development, globalisation, and the domination of the world economy by capitalism after 1991.

This book is an accessible introduction to the history and the theories that have shaped economic anthropology, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the discipline.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great introduction, 10 Nov 2011
This review is from: Economic Anthropology (Paperback)
So far so good. A pretty helpful reference and introduction to the topic, especially if anthropology is your thing and economics is something youve never really studied. I suppose it would also be a great read if that was the other way round too.
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Economic Anthropology
Economic Anthropology by Chris Hann (Paperback - 18 Feb 2011)
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