Why America's Top Pundits Are Wrong: Anthropologists Talk Back

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Hugh Hugh Gusterson, Catherine Besteman, Hugh Gusterson
University of California Press, 2005 - History - 282 pages
"The punditocracy are our modern day mythmakers. The anthropologists assembled in this collection deftly debunk their myths and make a passionate case for the importance of anthropology to public debate. The authors present sustained, intelligent, and often biting and humorous criticisms of some of the most influential recent popular writings on social science and international relations. This is a very important book."—Bill Maurer, author of Recharting the Caribbean

"From an anthropological standpoint, the world increasingly looks as if it is led by glib, but uninformed, insensitive dolts. In this volume, the authors fight back against the pundits whose influential publications presume the same expertise as anthropologists. They underscore the overgeneralizations, prejudices, false reasoning, and inaccuracies of these popular authors and in doing so provide a useful corrective."—William Beeman, author of The Study of Culture at a Distance

"This volume is a bold attempt, in language as accessible as the reigning rhetorics, to remake the terms of public debate, to lessen the fear of the primordial, and to allow Americans to understand better the challenges, the errors, and the possibilities of what is being done elsewhere in their name."—George Marcus, co-author of Anthropology as Cultural Critique

"This 'must read' volume is Public Anthropology at its best. It invokes the anthropological veto, brings in voices from the margins, and talks back to society's new tribe of talking chiefs—the spin doctors, myth-makers, and pundits who reduce the richness and complexity of global and national dilemmas into bite-size and dangerous platitudes."—Nancy Scheper-Hughes, author of Death Without Weeping: the Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil

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Why America's top pundits are wrong: anthropologists talk back

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Columnists like Thomas Friedman and popularizing scholars like Samuel Huntington digest a large amount of cultural information for mass audiences, but this thorough deconstruction (though not of their ... Read full review


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About the author (2005)

Catherine Besteman is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Colby College and author of Unraveling Somalia: Race, Violence, and the Legacy of Slavery (1999), among other books. Hugh Gusterson, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science at MIT, is author of Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War (California, 1996) and People of the Bomb (2004).

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