23 Best Books on Anthropology

We have compiled a list of the Best Reference Books on Anthropology, which are used by students of top universities, and colleges. This will help you choose the right book depending on if you are a beginner or an expert. Here is the complete list of Anthropology Books with their authors, publishers, and an unbiased review of them as well as links to the Amazon website to directly purchase them. If permissible, you can also download the free PDF books on Anthropology below.

1. Anthropological Theories

1."The Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture" by Marvin Harris
“The Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture” Book Review: The book contains the entire 1968 text along with a new introduction by Maxine Margolis. It emphasizes significant anthropological theories and their evolution over time, serving as a guide to the history of anthropology. Furthermore, the book presents a compelling argument for using a scientific, behaviorally-based, etic approach. It delves into the understanding of human culture known as cultural materialism.

2."Toward An Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams" by D Graeber
“Toward An Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams” Book Review: The book presents a combination of economic, political, and cultural theories of value and explores the latest developments in exchange theory. It offers diverse perspectives on the notion of value and examines its significance in terms of actions, reflection, and a theory of wealth and power. The book further delves into the topic of wampum and social creativity among the Iroquois and revisits the works of Marcel Mauss.

3."An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists" by Jerry D Moore
“An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists” Book Review: The book provides a comprehensive overview of the key anthropological theories and theorists, including their historical context and the main themes and concepts associated with each theory. The writing is clear and accessible, making it easy for beginners to understand complex ideas. Each chapter includes helpful study questions and further reading suggestions, which are useful for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of anthropology.

4."Current Developments in Anthropological Genetics: Volume 1 Theory and Methods" by James Mielke
“Current Developments in Anthropological Genetics: Volume 1 Theory and Methods” Book Review: The book presents the theories and methodologies of anthropological genetics, originally stemming from a 1971 symposium on the state of the field. It highlights some of the significant advances made since then and examines the latest developments in anthropological genetics since 1973. While population structure analysis remains a continuing area of research, the book shifts the focus to some extent to other areas.

5."Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theory" by Philip Carl Salzman
“Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theory” Book Review: In this book, readers can delve into six significant anthropological theories. The first stream covers interdependence in human life, also known as functionalism. The next two theories discussed are processualism and transactionalism, which explore agency in human action. The book also examines determining factors such as materialism and political economy. Configurationalism and structuralism, which explore coherence in culture, are also included. Additionally, readers can learn about history and evolution in the context of transformation through time, and about feminism and postmodernism as critical advocacy theories. Each theory is presented with its assumptions, aims, and accomplishments.

6."Engaging Anthropological Theory: A Social and Political History" by Mark Moberg
“Engaging Anthropological Theory: A Social and Political History” Book Review: This book presents a new perspective on the history of anthropological theory, covering significant concepts and theorists. It includes a detailed analysis of anthropological theories that explore their historical context. Additionally, the book discusses the contentious nature of anthropology as a field of study. Unlike a dry recitation of past viewpoints, this text presents an engaging and lively exploration of the subject matter. It brings the theories to life, making them accessible to readers of all levels.

7."Braving the Street: Anthropology of Homelessness (Public issues in anthropological perspective)" by Irene Glasser and Rae Bridgman
“Braving the Street: Anthropology of Homelessness (Public issues in anthropological perspective)” Book Review: The book explores the factors contributing to people being huddled and investigates the workings of poverty subculture. It identifies the culture of homelessness and presents an anthropologically grounded analysis of the issue. The book draws on the author’s firsthand experience of working within homeless communities to provide in-depth insights and presents the results of their research.

8."Physicians of Western Medicine: Anthropological Approaches to Theory and Practice (Culture, Illness and Healing)" by Robert A Hahn and Atwood D Gaines
“Physicians of Western Medicine: Anthropological Approaches to Theory and Practice (Culture, Illness and Healing)” Book Review: This book serves as a valuable resource for both anthropology and medicine students, as well as a guide for practitioners in both fields. It covers cultural studies of science and cultural bioethics, and importantly, it examines how medical anthropology has progressed from the past to a more ethical future. The book challenges the status quo by problematizing normal biomedicine, bioethics, and global health. Through its insights, it provides a foundation for the creation of a truly anthropological approach to global health. Its interdisciplinary focus makes it an important contribution to both fields.

9."Up Close and Personal: On Peripheral Perspectives and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge (Methodology & History in Anthropology)" by Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka
“Up Close and Personal: On Peripheral Perspectives and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge (Methodology & History in Anthropology)” Book Review: This book is aimed at academics emerging from the world’s metropolises and addresses issues that are often neglected in anthropological studies. It identifies key starting points for those currently practicing anthropology in the antipodes and other regions. The book includes personal accounts from experienced anthropologists, providing a rich perspective on the subject matter. It is both a work on theory and method, offering insight into the production of anthropological knowledge. By combining personal experiences and theoretical analysis, the book provides a unique perspective on the field of anthropology that is valuable for students and practitioners alike.

10."Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History" by R Jon McGee and Richard L Warms
“Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History” Book Review: The book proposes a fresh agenda and provides a curated selection of critical essays in anthropology. It includes detailed introductions and analyses of significant theoretical developments, identifying key figures and exploring their historical and personal influences. The book also acknowledges and offers background information on the evolution of anthropology, as well as examines historical and cultural factors and clarifies unusual terminology. Additionally, recommended additional readings are provided.

11."Border Approaches: Anthropological Perspectives on Frontiers" by Hastings Donnan and Thomas M Wilson
“Border Approaches: Anthropological Perspectives on Frontiers” Book Review: The book investigates the manifestation of ethnicity and nationalism in daily life, including the expression of cultural identity and how they are reflected at international borders. It draws on case studies from diverse regions, such as West Africa, the Turkish-Syrian border, India, the proposed Khalistan, the German-French border, the Portuguese-Spanish border, and Ireland. The book presents a wide range of anthropological perspectives on the topic.

12."The Trouble with Community: Anthropological Reflections on Movement, Identity and Collectivity (Anthropology, Culture and Society)" by Vered Amit and Nigel Rapport
“The Trouble with Community: Anthropological Reflections on Movement, Identity and Collectivity (Anthropology, Culture and Society)” Book Review: This book is a helpful guide for anthropologists, covering the personal social networks of individuals and providing insights into the reality of community. It examines how anthropology can better understand social identities, which are inherently plural, transgressive, and ironic. The book also identifies civil society’s potential to accommodate the ongoing construction and rightful expression of these social identities. By exploring these themes, the book offers a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics of society and the role of anthropology in apprehending them. It is a valuable resource for students and practitioners of anthropology seeking to expand their knowledge of social identities and community.

13."History of Anthropological Thought" by V S Upadhaya and GAYA Pandey
“History of Anthropological Thought” Book Review: The book is a collaborative exploration of the theories and contributions of various anthropologists, providing insights into human beings, their cultures, and societies. It traces the progressive development of cultural institutions and explores economic, political, and educational systems. The book also examines the function of culture as a whole and its various traits within different institutions. With the aim of exploring diverse dimensions of civilization, the book introduces studies of villages, towns, and cities.

14."Macaque Societies: A Model for the Study of Social Organization (Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology)" by Bernard Thierry and Mewa Singh
“Macaque Societies” Book Review: The book is well-organized and covers various aspects of macaque society, including their mating patterns, social hierarchy, and communication. The authors, Bernard Thierry and Mewa Singh, present a detailed analysis of macaque behavior based on extensive research and provide a useful framework for understanding the social organization of primates. The book is written in simple language and is an excellent resource for students and researchers interested in primate behavior and evolution.

15."Visual Anthropology: Photography as a Research Method" by John Collier Jr
“Visual Anthropology” Book Review: This book is a comprehensive guide on the use of photography in ethnographic research. Collier’s expertise in the field is apparent as he discusses the various ways photography can be utilized in anthropology, such as documenting daily life, cultural practices, and rituals. The book provides practical advice on how to use cameras, manage images, and analyze the visual data collected. It is a valuable resource for anyone interested in incorporating photography into their anthropological research methodology.

16."Anthropologists in the Field – Cases in Participant Observatio" by Lynne Hume
“Anthropologists in the Field – Cases in Participant Observation” by Lynne Hume Book Review:
This book provides a remarkable introduction to authentic ethnography, utilizing natural and sometimes unfamiliar societies as case studies. It explores participant observation and ethnographic interviewing, both in the short and long term, as approaches to issues such as communication breakdowns, depression, aggression, threats, and ethical dilemmas – topics that are often glossed over in published work and ignored in the curriculum. The book covers a range of intriguing themes, including sexualized and violent environments, secrecy and disclosure, multiple roles and loyalties, insider/outsider dynamics, and the negotiation of friendship and objectivity.

2. Anthropology of Communication

1."Anthropology and Mass Communication: Media and Myth in the New Millennium" by Mark Allan Peterson
“Anthropology and Mass Communication: Media and Myth in the New Millennium” Book Review: The book provides a comprehensive and structured account of the themes, topics, and methodologies used in the emerging dialogue between anthropologists studying mass communication and media analysts who have turned to ethnography and cultural analysis. It draws on numerous semiotic, ethnographic, and cross-cultural studies of mass media, offering fresh insights into the analysis of media texts. Additionally, the book presents models for the ethnographic study of media production and consumption, along with various approaches for comprehending media in the modern world system. It covers the work done in cultural studies, sociology, mass communication, and other relevant disciplines.

2."Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication" by Nasa History Office and Douglas a Vakoch
“Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication” Book Review: This book covers a field that has been shaped by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists. It delves into a topic that lies at the heart of modern archaeology and anthropology. Additionally, the book raises several thought-provoking questions that humanity may have to confront if we detect an information-rich signal emanating from another world. The book provides insight into the evolution and physical embodiment of extraterrestrial beings, as well as historical perspectives on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Moreover, the book includes information on archeological analogues.


3. Anthropology of Complex Societies and Gender

1."Social Anthropology of Complex Societies" by Michael Banton
“Social Anthropology of Complex Societies” Book Review: This book showcases how the study of social anthropology has expanded to encompass non-primitive societies. These societies include rural Italy, urban Africa, and village politics in India, as well as smaller ex-colonial territories like Fiji and Mauritius. The book delves into each of these areas in detail. Additionally, it explores the role and contribution of British community studies and illustrates how micro-sociology can be applied to macro-sociology.

2."Organisational Anthropology: Doing Ethnography in and Among Complex Organisations (Anthropology, Culture and Society)" by Christina Garsten and Anette Nyqvist
“Organisational Anthropology: Doing Ethnography in and Among Complex Organisations (Anthropology, Culture and Society)” Book Review: This book is targeted towards students, researchers, and academics in anthropology and organization studies. Its primary goal is to provide guidance on how to initiate contact, build relationships, and earn the trust of an organization’s members. It emphasizes the crucial aspects of conducting anthropology in complex contemporary settings and offers a summary of immediate organizational anthropology. Additionally, the book addresses methodological challenges and theoretical debates. Moreover, several proponents of organizational anthropology reflect on its history and future directions within the book.

4. Anthropological Statistics

1."Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers" by Benjamin Apthorp Gould
“Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers” Book Review: This book examines the military population and enlistment in the loyal states, drawing from official reports. It presents data on the nativity of US volunteers and the ages of the original volunteers, as well as information on the ages and statuses of recruits. Furthermore, it provides details on physical characteristics such as complexion, hair color, and eye color, as well as previous occupations and average body measurements. The book also covers mean body proportions, head dimensions, and proportions, as well as the theory of weight and strength, pulmonary capacity, and other related topics.

2."Sanitary Memoirs of the War of the Rebellion. V. 2, Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers" by Benjamin Apthorp Gould
“Sanitary Memoirs of the War of the Rebellion. V. 2, Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers” Book Review: The book offers readers a glimpse into life in the western hemisphere during the late 15th century through the first few decades of the 20th century, covering the arrival of Europeans on North American shores. The author focuses on the society, politics, and religious beliefs of the time while also highlighting the culture, contemporary opinions, and significant events of the era. The book provides readers with access to a variety of documents, including sermons, political tracts, newspapers, books, pamphlets, maps, and legislation, among others.

3."Statistics, Medical and Anthropological, of the Provost-Marshal-General's Bureau Volume 1" by J H Baxter
“Statistics, Medical and Anthropological, of the Provost-Marshal-General’s Bureau Volume 1” Book Review: This book is based on records of military service examinations conducted during the late Civil War in the United States, which involved over a million recruits, drafted men, substitutes, and enrolled men. As mentioned in the introductory notice, the charts and maps presented in this book are derived from the tables, providing easy-to-understand statistics for all the data included. Upon inspection, the method used to compile this information will become apparent, with comments provided for each chart or group of charts to highlight interesting comparative results.

We have put a lot of effort into researching the best books on Anthropology and came out with a recommended list and their reviews. If any more book needs to be added to this list, please email us. We are working on free pdf downloads for books on Anthropology and will publish the download link here. Fill out this Anthropology books pdf download" request form for download notification.

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