The Reinvention of Primitive Society

Transformations of a Myth

by Adam Kuper

Series: Routledge Classic Texts in Anthropology

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781138282643
  • 9781351852975
  • 9781351852968

Adam Kuper’s iconoclastic intellectual history argues that the idea of “primitive society” is a western myth. The “primitive” is imagined as the opposite of the “civilised”. But this is a protean myth. As ideas about civilisation change, so the image of primitive society must be adjusted.

By way of fascinating account of classic texts in anthropology, ancient history and law, Kuper reveals how this myth underpinned academic research and inspired political programmes. Its ancestry is traced back to classical western beliefs about barbarians and savages, and Kuper also tackles the latest version of the myth, the idea of a global identity of “indigenous peoples”.

The Reinvention of Primitive Society is a key text in the history of anthropology, and will interest anyone who has puzzled about the very idea of “primitive society” – and so, by implication, about “civilisation”.


Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781138282643
  • 9781351852975
  • 9781351852968

About The Author

Adam Kuper is a centennial professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, and a visiting professor at Boston University, USA. A specialist on the ethnography of Southern Africa, he has written widely on the history and theory of anthropology.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781138282643
  • 9781351852975
  • 9781351852968