Schneider on Schneider

The Conversion of the Jews and Other Anthropological Stories

Schneider on Schneider

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: 8 b&w photographs Published: September 1995

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs

To listen to David M. Schneider is to hear the voice of American anthropology. To listen at length is to hear much of the discipline’s history, from the realities of postwar practice and theory to Schneider’s own influence on the development of symbolic and interpretive anthropology in the 1970s and 1980s. Schneider on Schneider offers readers this rare opportunity, and with it an engrossing introduction into a world of intellectual rigor, personal charm, and wit.
In this work, based on conversations with Richard Handler, Schneider tells the story of his days devoted to anthropology—as a student of Clyde Kluckhohn and Talcott Parsons and as a writer and teacher whose work on kinship and culture theory revolutionized the discipline. With a master’s sense of the telling anecdote, he describes his education at Cornell, Yale, and Harvard, his fieldwork on the Micronesian island of Yap and among the Mescalero Apache, and his years teaching at the London School of Economics, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago. Musing on the current state and the future of anthropology, Schneider’s cast of characters reads like a who’s who of postwar social science. His reflections on anthropological field research and academic politics address some of the most pressing ethical and epistemological issues facing scholars today, while yielding tales of unexpected amusement.
With its humor and irony, its wealth of information and searching questions about the state of anthropology, Schneider on Schneider not only provides an important resource for the history of twentieth-century social science, but also brings to life the entertaining voice of an engaging storyteller.


“[This] will long stand as a sterling example of what the anthropological autobiography should strive to do. . . . [It] illuminates one of the most significant theorists of American cultural anthropology.” — Ellen Lewin, American Anthropologist

"Is it possible that our whole knowledge of people, what they do and what they are, can only come true or complete itself in a humor about them? What Schneider’s humor and Handler’s skill have captured is not simply the wit of anthropology nor once again the story of anthropology, but actually the life of anthropology in its times." — Roy Wagner, University of Virginia


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David M. Schneider, one of the key figures in twentieth-century social science, is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His books include American Kinship and A Critique of the Study of Kinship.

Richard Handler is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia and author of, among other works, Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1691-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1679-4
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