Encyclopedia of Anthropology

23.02.09 | Xurshid


Encyclopedia of Anthropology
Author: H. James Birx
Publisher: Cambridge University Press - 2005
Format / Quality: Pdf
Size: 102 Mb
*Starred Review* Despite the fact that the study of anthropology is well respected and time honored, there has been a peculiar gap in the reference literature. No general, multivolume encyclopedia has offered a broad overview of the subject. Existing encyclopedias, such as Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology (Holt, 1996), cover one aspect of the discipline. Several other single-volume encyclopedias are more like dictionaries, an example being the Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology: Humanity, Culture, and Social Life (Routledge, 2002). But there has been nothing quite like this new Encyclopedia of Anthropology from Sage.

Five substantial volumes, with more than 1,000 entries, encompass information on all of the various aspects of the field. According to the accompanying literature, those are physical/biological anthropology, archaeology, cultural/social anthropology, linguistics, and applied anthropology. Articles on related topics such as biology, evolution, geology, paleontology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and theology are also included. Approximately 230 of the entries are biographical. The entries themselves are clearly written in language accessible for an undergraduate student or informed user but are substantial enough to be of value to the more advanced researcher.

The editorial attitude of the work seems totally in the camp of Darwinian evolution, in that the theories put forth by Darwin are valid and are well supported by the evidence available in the fossil record and the current state of development. However, other opinions are addressed. There is, for example, no entry on intelligent design (though there are several page references in the index), but there is one on Creationism, beliefs in and one on Non-Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms. Another controversy in anthropology, the issue of repatriation of artifacts, is presented most specifically in articles on Native peoples of the United States and Human rights in anthropology.

The volumes themselves are beautiful and a pleasure to use and read. The paper is thick and glossy, the bindings substantial. There is elegant and eye-catching use of color in the decorations at the top of the pages and as background for such elements as sidebars and bibliographies. Color pictures enhance the text. The volumes have all the features one has come to expect from a high-end encyclopedia: a list of contributors, a list of entries in alphabetical order and another list of entries in thematic groupings, cross-references and suggested additional reading, and a master bibliography. The only critical comment to be made is that the index refers only to page numbers without volume numbers, and there are no page ranges given on the spines of the volumes. The difficulty that this causes is somewhat balanced by having the entire index in each volume.

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