Virgin Earth

Virgin Earth

Book - 1999
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Suddenly culture seems to explain everything, from civil wars to financial crises and divorce rates. But when we speak of culture, what, precisely, do we mean? Adam Kuper pursues the concept of culture from the early twentieth century debates to its adoption by American social science under the tutelage of Talcott Parsons. What follows is the story of how the idea fared within American anthropology, the discipline that took on culture as its special subject. Here we see the influence of such prominent thinkers as Clifford Geertz, David Schneider, Marshall Sahlins, and their successors, who represent the mainstream of American cultural anthropology in the second half of the twentieth century--the leading tradition in world anthropology in our day. These anthropologists put the idea of culture to the ultimate test--in detailed, empirical ethnographic studies--and Kuper's account shows how the results raise more questions than they answer about the possibilities and validity of cultural analysis. Written with passion and wit, Culture clarifies a crucial chapter in recent intellectual history. Adam Kuper makes the case against cultural determinism and argues that political and economic forces, social institutions, and biological processes must take their place in any complete explanation of why people think and behave as they do.
Publisher: HarperCollins, 1999.
ISBN: 9780007228485
9780002257596
0002257599
Branch Call Number: FICTION GRE

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r
ryner
Apr 25, 2008

This sequel to Earthly Joys focuses on John Tradescant (the younger), gardener to the King of England during the tumultuous reign of Charles I. Desiring merely to garden rather than take sides between the king and parliament, he sails to Virginia to gather new and exotic plants for his collection. There, assisted by a young Powhatan girl, he finds himself drawn into this virgin land's raw beauty. When the natives and the new English settlers go to war, John finds himself pressured once again to take sides in a conflict he wants nothing to do with, and must decide who he really is.

I greatly enjoy Gregory's prose, and never fail to get sucked into the period ? this book is no exception. Some of John's relationships are unsatisfactory, and the ending is heartbreaking. I was inspired to learn more about Mr. Tradescant and his minor role in history.

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