The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Anthropology is the first instalment of The SAGE Handbook of the Social Sciences series and encompasses major specialities as well as key interdisciplinary themes relevant to the field. Globally, societies are facing major upheaval and change, and the social sciences are fundamental to the analysis of these issues, as well as the development of strategies for addressing them. This handbook provides a rich overview of the discipline and has a future focus whilst using international theories and examples throughout. The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Anthropology is an essential resource for social scientists globally and contains a rich body of chapters on all major topics relevant to the field, whilst also presenting a possible road map for the future of the field. Part 1: Foundations; Part 2: Focal Areas; Part 3: Urgent Issues; and Part 4: Short Essays: Contemporary Critical Dynamics.

Cross-Cultural Comparative Commitments

Cross-cultural comparative commitments
Deborah Winslow

Cross-cultural comparative research gives anthropology its legibility as a discipline. Comparisons may be implicit, such as a descriptive ethnography of a single group that evokes contrasts with the reader's (and, usually, the ethnographer's) own. Others are explicit, drawing upon studies of multiple groups separated by time, space, or social niche, to generalize parallels and contrasts across them. But despite the longevity, salience, and centrality of cross-cultural comparative analysis, particularly in Europe and North America,1 its reputation in anthropology has been decidedly uneven. As R.H. Barnes once put it, ‘Anthropology is permanently in crisis about the comparative method’ (1987: 119).

The crux of the matter for Barnes was that anthropologists disagreed about the relative merits of ...

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