Donald L. Donham

in History, Power, Ideology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 1999 | ISBN: 9780520213371
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920798 | DOI:

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This book does not fit accepted categories of writing. For instance, what follows does not constitute ethnography—yet in the course of presenting its arguments, the book returns repeatedly to the details of social life in a remote area of southern Ethiopia called Maale. Similarly, this is not a work in abstract social theory—yet it attempts throughout to pose and to resolve conceptual issues of broad relevance. It traces out, as precisely as possible, the connections between abstract theory—in particular, Marxism—and embedded empirical analysis; in this case, of Maale political economy. Located between ethnography and social theory, the book seeks to combine anthropology and Marxism so that the critical edge of one can be used to sharpen issues in the other. It examines whether the critical moment in anthropology can be used to transform aspects of Marxism, and whether the critical aspect of Marxism can be used to recast anthropology. The book also shows that whatever insights neoclassical theory affords for capitalism, it provides similar ones for non-capitalist societies.

Keywords: Maale; Ethiopia; Marxism; anthropology; social theory; ethnography; social life; political economy; capitalism; neoclassical theory

Chapter.  8047 words. 

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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