Understanding Cultures: Perspectives in Anthropology and Social Theory

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Understanding Cultures confronts the major theoretical issues involved in cross-cultural interpretation. The book introduces students to rationality among the ancestors of anthropology before proceeding to a wide-ranging evaluation of the Anglo-American rationality debates. At issue is the opposition between scientific models of understanding human action and those models that emphasize human action as symbolic and meaningful, thus privileging an interpretive framework. This long-awaited second edition includes a new chapter on globalism and cultural diaspora that challenges conventional notions of bounded culture and bounded self and has important implications for refiguring the rationality debates, fieldwork, and cross-cultural interpretations more generally.