Re: Is Levi-Strauss essential? was It still works? Avoid it anyway.

Julia E Smith (
21 Jan 1997 18:40:08 GMT

In article <5blqbg$>,
Chad Ryan Thomas <> wrote:
>In article <5bk1g5$>, says...

>>And -- what anthropological literature IS useful to science fiction and
>>fantasy writers?
>Any literature on anthropology, and for fantasy especially, I'd recommend
>some folklore theory. Joseph Campbell doesn't work very well anymore for
>interpreting mythologies, but his ideas are just peachy for fantasy authors.

My advice is not to pick on specific authors. Instead, pick up some good
broad treatments: like intro textbooks. I recommend the books by Marvin
Harris (_Culture, People, Nature_), by William Haviland (_Cultural
Anthropology_), and by Serena Nanda (_Cultural Anthropology_). However,
older books will do. Read them. Then, when you want to use some idea, go
to that section, look at who they talk about, and then go read further in
that part of the literature. The more general sources you have, the more
points of view you have on what's interesting. Anthropologists have
studied a lot of ideas from a lot of points of view, and no single book or
even author can possibly give you a good overview of the field.

For example, if you were thinking about the ways in which some society
might be economically organized that would be totally different from our
current market system, I'd want you to read economic anthropology. If you
wanted to think about gender, I'd want you to read the feminist
anthropology and the work on sexuality. There is no single answer.

Sorry that I'm not much help.

Julia Smith