Adam Kuper

Adam Kuper, whose most recent book is The Reinvention of Primitive Society, is a professor of anthropology at Brunel University.

Margaret Mead and her second husband, Reo Fortune, spent nearly two years in the interior of New Guinea between 1931 and 1933. Just 29 years old when they set out, Mead had already published two bestselling books, Coming of Age in Samoa and Growing up in New Guinea. Fortune, a highly competitive, paranoid and occasionally violent New Zealander, had yet to make his name as an anthropologist....

In the chaotic last years of apartheid – the regime crumbling, local authorities in turmoil, violence a constant threat – there were outbreaks of witch-hunting and medicine murder in what was then the northern Transvaal. Hundreds of suspected witches were burnt to death. In 1988, a medicine murder scandal precipitated the fall of the government of the Venda Bantustan. There were...

Clueless: police rituals

Adam Kuper, 21 April 2005

On 21 September 2001, a man walking across Tower Bridge saw what appeared to be a corpse floating in the river. Twenty minutes later, a police launch took the corpse on board and discovered that the head, arms and legs had been severed. The torso was identified as that of an Afro-Caribbean boy of around five years old. The only evidence of identity was a pair of orange shorts labelled...

Michael Young’s biography takes Bronislaw Malinowski to the age of 36, when the brilliant Polish anthropologist completed his field study of the Trobriand Islands, married, and prepared to make his career back in Europe. Young is a Melanesian ethnographer himself, and the book comes into its own when Malinowski arrives in Australia, on the eve of the Great War, and begins the...

Men’s Work: Lévi-Strauss

Adam Kuper, 24 June 2004

The tout Paris of mid-20th-century intellectuals seems to have been a small world, small enough to pack into a few cafés, its members visiting each other in their cottages in the country or coming together at weekends in the houses of wealthy patrons. Artists, writers, philosophers and scientists shared a world. Claude Lévi-Strauss was the son of an artist, and two of his uncles...

Happy Bunnies: Cousin Marriage

John Pemble, 25 February 2010

In Britain privilege still means power, but power no longer means class. The British ruling class is long since dead. Its day was over when neoliberal think tanks dethroned liberal-humanist...

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No Escape: culture

Bruce Robbins, 1 November 2001

Why are some nations so poor and others so rich? Two Harvard professors recently revived an old-fashioned answer to this unsettling question, and it sits plainly as the title of their book:...

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