Best Anthropology Books of All Time

best anthropology books of all time

In anthropology, we mean the study of people, both ancient and modern. It draws upon knowledge from the sciences, humanities, and social sciences to comprehensively understand human nature.

There is much to learn from anthropology books. They can give us insights into our cultures and how they have evolved. They can also provide valuable perspectives on other cultures.

With so many great anthropology books, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are ten of the best anthropology books of all time, sure to get you thinking about humanity in new and exciting ways.

Our Caribbean by Bernard C. Theobalds

Through the pages of Our Caribbean, you’ll come to know the real Caribbean, from its rich history and culture to its natural beauty and diverse people. Bernard C. Theobalds provides an insider’s view of the Caribbean, from its earliest days to the present, highlighting the Island’s unique customs, traditions, and way of life.

There are many tourist attractions in the Caribbean, including beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and lively towns. Our Caribbean is the perfect way to learn about this fascinating region and its people.

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

If you want to understand human evolution, there is no better place to start than with Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. This groundbreaking work laid out the theory of evolution by natural selection and remained one of the most influential books of all time.

The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

The Descent of Man is Darwin’s follow-up to On the Origin of Species. In it, he applies his theory of evolution to humans, providing a detailed account of our evolutionary history.

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is considered a modern classic in the field of biology. In it, Dawkins argued that the gene is the basic unit of selection in evolution and that the selfish interests of individual genes drive natural selection.

The Origin of Nations by Ernest Gellner

Ernest Gellner’s The Origin of Nations is a fascinating account of the rise of nationalism. Gellner’s thesis is that nationalism is a product of modernity, and his analysis of how it has affected contemporary society is thorough.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

A wide-ranging account of human history may be found in Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. Diamond argues that the course of history has been determined by several factors, including geography and the availability of resources.

Collapse by Jared Diamond

In Collapse, Jared Diamond turns his attention to the problem of environmental degradation. He argues that several societies have collapsed due to environmental issues and provides a detailed account of the factors that can lead to collapse.

The Anthropology of Violence by Rene Girard

Rene Girard’s The Anthropology of Violence is a provocative study of the origins of violence. Girard argues that violence is not an innate human tendency but a product of culture.

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind is a groundbreaking work of social psychology. Haidt argues that some evolved psychological mechanisms shape our moral judgments and provides a detailed account of how these mechanisms operate.

The Social Construction of Race by Patricia Bidol-Salazar

In The Social Construction of Race, Patricia Bidol-Salazar critically analyzes the concept of race. She claims that race is a sociological construct, not a biological fact.

The Nature of Culture by Claude Levi-Strauss

Claude Levi-Strauss’ The Nature of Culture is a classic work of anthropology. Levi-Strauss argues that culture is a product of the human mind, and he provides a detailed account of how culture shapes our thoughts and behavior.

Conclusion

It is clear that anthropology has always been, and will remain, an important area of study. The books on this list offer a comprehensive and well-rounded introduction to the field, its history, and its challenges. A must-read for anybody who wants a better grasp of human past and the present.

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Excerpts taken from the chapter on St Lucia

(pages 148 - 157)

There is dispute as to the origin of the name and discovery of St. Lucia, creating the opportunity for all kinds of speculation. Even Thomas Coke (in 1811) challenges the very discovery of the island, and in which particular voyage, by Columbus; and all available evidence suggests that Columbus never came close to the islands of the Southern Antilles (except for Trinidad). Even his courses through the islands, derived from his logs, show no approach to Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent or St. Lucia. It is known however, that our explorer touched by Martinique during his Fourth Voyage in 1502, coming in from the Atlantic through the Martinique Channel. It is also revealing there is no mention of Columbus’ reaction to the unique Pitons, though he was known to keep copious notes.

The island is heavily volcanic, dominated by a central mountain range traversing much of its length, north to south, punctuated with fertile valleys going down to the sea. A one-time English resident and writer, Henry Breen, wrote enthusiastically of St. Lucia in 1842, of its wild and romantic scenery, grand and picturesque, its somber forests and shallow rivers and other enchanting forms. These sentiments would still apply today

The French were probably the first colonists, in the seventeenth century, when France and England both rising naval powers, initiated their conquest of Spain’s Caribbean colonies. St. Lucia would become a major producer of sugar and other slave-grown crops. The French developed the island’s sulphur baths at the south-western town of Soufriere and left their mark to this day, with all the nation’s towns and villages (Castries, Gros Islet, Vieux Fort, Soufriere, Laborie) given French names, and a French patois being universally spoken. Roman Catholicism was, until recent times, the overwhelmingly dominant religion, in contrast with other British territories, like Barbados, where Anglicanism prevails. Castries the capital and main port, founded in 1650, is named after a French nobleman.

The Pitons and surrounding area were designated a World Heritage Site in 2004. The original natives called the island Hewanorra, “Land of Water” which name remains in use today for  the island’s international airport.
The island achieved independence in 1979 and is a member of the OECS grouping. Citizens refer to themselves, somewhat proudly as Looshuns, the word derived obviously from a   corruption of the name of their island. 

The island became known as The Helen of the West, apropos “Helen of Troy”, because it was, to the colonizing Europeans, militarily the most sought-after island in the Eastern Caribbean, simply in view of its location and large and naturally deep and sheltered harbours,  a rarity among the smaller islands in the region. It changed hands at least 14 times in violent conflict  between the English and the French, the most aggressive imperial powers after the decline of the Spanish.

The modern period has its own attractions too. The island has for many years, been the terminus of the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), an annual race for yachtsmen originating in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands during November, with arrival in St Lucia in time for Christmas celebrations. Then there is the internationally popular Jazz Festival held in May of every year attracting music aficionados from all over the world.

St Lucia may be heavily volcanic in origin, but it does have some beautiful golden-sand beaches, Sandals Resorts and the world famous and very exclusive Jade Mountain Resort, with its close-up and magnificent views of the Pitons.

Oprah Winfrey famously has said St Lucia and the Pitons … one of the five places to see in your lifetime.