Our books examine how people in disparate cultures across time and space live and think about their world—an examination that encourages us to think critically about our own cherished assumptions about culture, race, gender, reason, politics, and more. The Princeton list features work identified with the subfield of social or cultural anthropology, privileging theoretically and historically informed ethnography.
Recent offerings extend classic ethnographic methods into the study of emerging forms of digital culture. Princeton’s list also illuminates the biological and evolutionary aspects of human development, including books in paleoanthropology, primatology, cultural and behavioral evolution, human biology, and evolutionary medicine.
A look inside Running Out
On the high plains of western Kansas, there is no clear line between water and second chances. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was in search of both when I turned my Prius off a two-lane highway and onto the washboard gravel that led back to the farm.
Welcome to Armageddon
Each day throughout the year, the tour buses begin arriving at Megiddo soon after 9:00 a.m., disgorging fifty tourists at a time. By the time the site closes at 5:00 p.m., several dozen buses will have deposited hundreds of visitors. “Welcome to Armageddon,” the tour guides say, as they march their flocks up the steep incline and through the ancient city gate.
Acquiring a horizon
Expectations about the environment and how it should act are being undone. In an idealized world, scientific projections hold; natural disasters can be contained; and knowledge, assumed to be cumulative, can be relied upon to maintain some semblance of predictability.
Exploring London’s past through mudlarking
For millennia, objects have found their way into the River Thames as it flows through London. Household rubbish has been dumped into it, personal possessions accidentally lost, cargoes spilt, offerings made to gods, and coins tossed in for luck.
Book Club Pick: The Mushroom at the End of the World
Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the Northern Hemisphere. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s account of these sought-after fungi offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: What manages to live in the ruins we have made?
Settled in the mid-1970s by a small contingent of Hasidic families, Kiryas Joel is an American town with few parallels in Jewish history—but many precedents among religious communities in the United States.