Jared Diamond, “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?” (Viking, 2012)
It’s pretty common–and has long been–for people to think that the “way it used to be” is better than the way it is. This tendency to idealize an (imagined) past is particularly strong today among critics of modern civilization. Think… Read More
Marlene Zuk, “Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live” (Norton, 2013)
The Hebrews called it “Eden.” The Greeks and Romans called it the “Golden Age.” The philosophes–or Rousseau at least–called it the “State of Nature.” Marx and Engels called it “Primitive Communism.” The underlying notion, however, is the same: there… Read More
Barbara R. Ambros, “Bones of Contention: Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan” (University of Hawai’i Press, 2012)
It opens with a parakeet named Homer, and it closes with a dog named Hachiko. In the intervening pages, Barbara Ambros explores the deaths, afterlives, and necrogeographies of pets in contemporary Japan. Bones of Contention:Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan Read More
Signe Rousseau, “Food and Social Media: You Are What You Tweet” (AltaMira Press, 2012)
The other day I found myself in a cooking situation that’s fairly common: I had a few odd ingredients–some oxidized strips of bacon, a withered red pepper, a bunch of half-wilted parsley–and needed to use them before they went bad,… Read More
Michael David Kaulana Ing, “The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism” (Oxford University Press, 2012)
How did the authors of the one of the most important Confucian ritual texts in early China recognize, explain, and cope with mistakes and dysfunction in ritual? The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism (Oxford University Press, 2012) brings readers… Read More
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