Policy Press

What Is Anthropology For?

By Kriti Kapila

Published

Apr 1, 2025

Page count

160 pages

Browse the series

What Is It For?

ISBN

978-1529230314

Dimensions

203 x 127 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Apr 1, 2025

Page count

160 pages

Browse the series

What Is It For?

ISBN

978-1529230321

Dimensions

203 x 127 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press
What Is Anthropology For?

Should anthropology, a discipline that originated in the colonial 19th century, still exist in the 21st? In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and campaigns to decolonise the curriculum, isn’t it irredeemably contaminated by its past?

As a western-trained Indian anthropologist, Kriti Kapila comes from a culture that was long treated as the subject of anthropology rather than a contributor to its understanding. But in this book, she argues that anthropology provides an essential set of tools for analysing our complex contemporary social reality. In today’s data-saturated, social life, when science explores our past with great precision, isn’t there merit in maintaining the line between nature and cultural, the biological and the informational, the human and the planetary?

Arguing resolutely for the discipline, while ignoring none of its past and present failings, this book makes a case for the unique insights that it can provide into our human connection, relatedness and exchange.

Dr Kriti Kapila is a social anthropologist at King’s College, London, whose research focuses on the work of law in contemporary India, including in the anthropology of law, genetics and genomics. She obtained her PhD at the LSE and subsequently held the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge and was also a Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge. Her works include Nullius: The Anthropology of Ownership, Sovereignty, and the Law in India (HAU Books, 2022).

1. Introduction

2. Let It Burn?

3. The Craft of Anthropology

4. The Lure of Empire

5. The Homes of Anthropology

6. Sameness and Difference Revisited

7. New Scales of Observation

8. Remaking the Human

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