Cultural Anthropology & Human Experience: The Feast of Life by Katherine A. Dettwyler
452 pages, $92.95 list
Instructor's Manual available
eBook availability
Cultural Anthropology & Human Experience
The Feast of Life
Katherine A. Dettwyler, author of the Margaret Mead Award–winning Dancing Skeletons, has written a compelling and original introductory text. Cultural Anthropology & Human Experience is suitable for use in Cultural and Social Anthropology courses, and its twelve chapters easily fit into quarter or semester terms, while leaving room for additional readings, discussions, or other projects. All the standard topics are covered, but with less emphasis on method and theory and more coverage of a variety of industrial and postindustrial societies. Auxiliary materials—bells and whistles—have been kept to a minimum to reduce distractions and maintain a reasonable price to students. The author has chosen all the photographs with great care to illustrate or amplify important points. The Instructor’s Manual includes summaries of each chapter, student exercises, and a test bank.

Dettwyler’s upbeat tone inspires students to:

• develop the ability to think logically, objectively, and critically about different cultural beliefs, practices, and social structures;

• understand that humans are “primates with culture,” with a complex overlay of environmental and cultural influences;

• appreciate how powerful cultural beliefs and practices can be in shaping human perceptions of the world;

• realize that “culture” is not the same thing as social constructions of “race,” “ethnic identity,” or “place of geographic origin”;

• understand why/how cultural practices make sense within the cultures that practice them;

• articulate how an anthropological perspective helps discern everyday situations and interactions at the local, national, and international levels;

• understand that anthropology is not just an academic discipline—it is a way of looking at and understanding the world;

• appreciate the ways cultural beliefs and practices, social structures, and human lifestyles contribute to a meaningful life.
“A gorgeous book. The entire production is high quality, especially the photographs. The price is great, too.” — Rita Sakitt, Suffolk County Community College

“What drew me to the text first was the author, followed by the price. The best feature is the presentation of information that is both readable and enjoyable for both majors and nonmajors. Bravo!” — Kathleen Smith-Wenning, Middlesex County College

“Clearly written and presented. Straightforward design with a few overarching theoretical approaches clearly used throughout. Good, solid information and discussion presented in a clear, linear text. Nice illustrations. Good value. Students won’t feel they are getting the ‘diet’ text with this feast.” — Karol Chandler-Ezell, Stephen F. Austin State University

"The Dettwyler book is truly gorgeous. I see that she has brought the same personable style of writing that made Dancing Skeletons one of my all-time favorite anthropology books for teaching." — Irene Glasser, Roger Williams University
Table of Contents
1. A Fraction of the Feast: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Anthropology's Distinctive Features / Cultural Anthropology / Aspects or Levels of Culture / Thinking Like an Anthropologist

2. Basic Needs: Food, Shelter, and Stuff
Getting Food: Modes of Subsistence, Part I / Why Do We Care? / Wild versus Domesticated Foods / Direct Labor versus Trade or Market Exchange / Subsistence and Patterns of Movement / Dettwyler's "Stuff Theory" of Material Culture and House Form / Getting Food: Modes of Subsistence, Part II

3. Love Is All We Need: Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation
The Standard North American Cultural View / Biological Sex / Gender / Sexual Orientation/Sex Object Preference / Reproductive Strategies of Males versus Females: The Great Inequality / Other Aspects of Human Sexual Behavior: Dispelling Myths

4. Good Health, Good Food, Good Sex: Medical, Nutritional, and Reproductive Anthropology
Medical Anthropology / Nutritional Anthropology / Reproductive Anthropology

5. Organizing People into Groups: Kinship, Descent, and Common Interest
Marriage / Kinship: Different Ways to Be Related / Kinship: Making Distinctions and Tracing Descent / Age as the Basis for Group Formation

6. Getting People to Behave: Enculturation, Rules, and Politics
Types of Rules / Who Makes the Rules? / Teaching and Learning the Rules / Political Organization and Conflict / Local Politics / The Structure of Political Disputes

7. Achieving Economic Goals: Markets, Trade, and Exchange
Three Basic Economic Principles / The Flow of Wealth / Money / Concepts of Ownership / Goals and Values in Economic Behavior / Wealth and Status

8. Making Sense of the World: Religion, Spirituality, Philosophy, and Worldview
An Anthropological Perspective on Religion / Functions of Religion / The Structure of Religious Beliefs / The Structure of Religious Practices / Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Other Forms of Magical Thinking / Have Scientific Explanations Replaced Magical Thinking? / Difficulties of Classifying Believers / Abrahamic Religions

9. The Things We Do for Fun: Music, Sports, and Games
The Origins of Human Creativity / Different Aspects of Human Creativity / Music / Sports, Games, Play, and Other Leisure-Time Activities

10. Human Creativity: Environments, Bodies, and the Arts
Modifying the Environment / Creating the Built Environment / Modifying and Decorating the Body / Visual Arts / Performing Arts

11. Human Communication: Touch Me, See Me, Hear Me, Read Me
Channels of Communication / Language as a Boundary Marker / The Study of Language and Lessons Learned / Technology and Human Communication

12. Living in the World
The Myths and Dangers of "Cultural Competence" / Remember These Things