The list author says: "Here are some bang-up works from the world of ethnography, sociology, and social anthropology. These are books that became classics in their fields because they are very well written and nice to read, so don't be afraid to try them out! In addition: they are books which will make you more enlightened and more perceptive, wiser, sagacious and cool to hang with, and since those are qualities we believe in at American Ethnography, we think you all should check out some of these beauties. (We have listed the books in chronological order.)"
"Have you ever use the phrase "rite of passage" in a sentence? You probably have, and so you should know that Arnold Van Gennep was the guy who first wrote the concept down, back in 1909 when he described the phenomena in this book here. After you read this, you can drop Gennep's name in conversations, and people will know you posses deep and brilliant insights. You'll feel awesome!"
"Here's Durkheim's conclusion: “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” … But, hey, read the rest of it, too. It'll be good for us all if you do."
"Bronislaw Malinowski is often said to have invented modern fieldwork. In Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), a result of his “voluntary” wartime exile on the Trobriand islands, Malinowski eloquently argues that participant observation is the anthropologist's most important tool in the study of cultures. This was groundbreaking ethnography when first published and it's still a riveting read!"
"One more Malinowski book on the list?! Well, why not ... the guy was, after all, the bomb. This one will help you reflect around the basic workings of how society sanctions and punishes the types of behavior it finds unacceptable. Once again, the master at work."
"As far as we can remember, this is the only book from the field of anthropology that ever made us cry. When the Paiute Chief whips out his broken cup allegory, we break down. Every time. Ruth Benedict – we salute you."
"The notion that dirt is "matter out of place" could well be the single definition you want to take from this book, but we dare you to stop at that one sentence. This thing will draw you in. Supposedly the Times Literary Supplement once listed this book as one of the hundred most influential non-fiction books published since 1945, and that's probably a fair postulate."
"Nutritional data has never been this exciting! It's a tour de force of ecological anthropology as Rappaport masterfully shows us how natural environment impacts a culture's ritual cycles and warfare."