A Place Apart: An Anthropological Study of the Icelandic World

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Clarendon Press, 1998 - Social Science - 227 pages
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A Place Apart offers a rich and reflective representation of Iceland and Icelanders today. Kirsten Hastrup draws upon extensive first-hand research, but also upon her original theory of what anthropology is and should be, which this book exemplifies. In two previous books she studied theprocesses and patterns which shaped Icelandic society from medieval times to the nineteenth century; now she brings this historical study up to date by drawing out the dominant themes in present-day Icelandic self-understanding. In many ways Icelanders' sustained image of themselves as a singularpeople in the world refracts the actual social reality. The image tends to favour particular interpretations of history as well as particular social groups, as Hastrup shows through analyses of tradition and ideology, landscape and memory, community and honour. She investigates the ways in whicheveryday life is informed by a living tradition and a stress on the historical depth and cultural uniqueness of this place apart. The result is a renewed sense of the texture of the Icelandic world, seen not as a static and prescriptive culture, but rather as a space within which Icelanders aresuspended between modernity and consciousness of the antiquity of Icelandic values, between presentness and pastness.

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must have for anyone studying icelandic culture, anthroplogy, ethnographic theory.


Times Past and Present
Ethnographic Fieldsites
The Contact Zone

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About the author (1998)

Kirsten Hastrup is a Professor of Anthropology at University of Copenhagen.

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