29 November 2011

Englishness at-a-glance

From the very excellent "Watching the English" by Kate Fox, "self-appointed national ethno-shrink." This is pretty old and has been on my to-read list for some time, but I suppose I never got around to it as I had the impression that it seemed a bit frivolous. It is not. Whilst some of it may seem obvious, it is obvious in the same kind of incredibly simple but incredibly powerful way that the theory of supply and demand is obvious, with wide explanatory power. There are all sorts of rules of behaviour which I follow, without ever knowing that I did, or why. 

Essential reading for basically everyone who suffers from, is close to someone who suffers, or lives amongst those who suffer from Englishness. Especially those awkward teenagers who have no idea that their social dis-ease is a defining national trait rather than a personal failing (I certainly didn't).

Do any readers have any other pop anthropology recommendations?


Ranil Dissanayake said...

two of the best, albeit historical (and thus often classified as social history) are Robert Darnton's The Great Cat Massacre, which is an absolute classic, and familiar to any historian who has studied anthropology; and Carlo Ginzburg's The Cheese and the Wine. You will regret reading neither. 

Oh, and Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight, by Cliffort Geertz, in the Interpretation of Cultures. Brilliant and hilarious altogether.

Laura Gordon said...

One of my Russian colleagues read 'Watching the English' before going to study in the UK. She didn't take it seriously because 'no-one could be *that* dysfunctional'. No-one except the English...

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