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Customer Review

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Studying Social Anthropology and not sure where to start? Look no further., 30 April 2012
This review is from: Small Places, Large Issues Third Edition: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (Anthropology, Culture and Society) (Paperback)
When heading to university to study Anthropology, I made the mistake of thinking I would be able to borrow most of the necessary texts for my course from the library. How wrong I was. Luckily one of the few books I did buy was this, the Anthropological equivalent of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

For the whole of my degree I would start any essay by opening my copy of 'Small Places', scanning the index and reading Eriksen's informative yet condensed account of almost every key topic a young Anthropology undergraduate will encounter - gender, hierarchies, politics, exchange, ethnicity, religion, marriage, fieldwork and kinship. From here, I would explore his suggestions on further reading, and note any interesting entries in the bibliography that I could chase up at 11p.m. the evening before a deadline.

Eriksen's ability to inter-link every topic he covers with a broad range of classic anthropological theory means that, as well as picking up the fascinating quirks of other cultures that you can later drop in to conversation (or when you inevitably have to explain to people exactly what it is you study), you get a solid grounding in the 'drier' stuff that scores you brownie points in seminars and essays. In this sense I found Small Places, Large Issues to be infinitely superior to other 'Introductory' books that my fellow students had purchased.

One thing to note is that while incredibly useful, this book relatively brief (about 300 pages covering 18 actual topics) and is only intended to act as an 'introduction' to an issue. If used correctly, it will provide you with a brilliant stepping-stone on to other books and ethnographic texts with which to formulate your essays.

The writing style is academic enough to reference in your dissertation, yet accessible and engaging enough for people with a general interest in anthropology to pick up and find enthralling. I cannot recommend this enough to anyone who is going to university to study or just wants to better understand of, in my (biased) opinion, an incredibly fascinating subject.
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