National Anthropology Day

The American Anthropological Assocation has declared February 19 to be National Anthropology Day. From the AAA’s announcement:

The American Anthropological Association is celebrating anthropology and anthropologists across the world through the declaration of National Anthropology Day. Anthropologists are innovators and creative thinkers who contribute to every sector of society. National Anthropology Day is a day for anthropologists to celebrate and participate in their discipline with the public around them.

Being an anthropologist, and seeing as how I have a particular affinity for American anthropology, I wanted to write a post encouraging everyone to read more anthropology and to engage with the work of anthropologists. As a discipline, we are notoriously awful at engaging the public with our work—but hey, this is celebrate anthropology day, not how-anthropology-fails day!

Anyway, seeing as I’ve written on Skepchick before about what American anthropology is and what makes it different from anthropology in other places (see link above), I wanted to share some of my favorite anthropological work, both old-school and contemporary, from all four subfields.  This list includes a few works from each subfield that I really like and think non-anthropologists can read and enjoy (in other words, they’re not too full of academic jargon).

Feel free to share your favorite anthropology in the comments section, or to ask questions about anthropology if you are curious about anything!

Sociocultural Anthropology


Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead

The Interpretation of Cultures by Clifford Geertz

Europe and the People Without History by Eric Wolf (For god’s sake, put down Jared Diamond and pick up this fantastic book. It’s infinitely more nuanced and way more thoughtful.)


Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment by João Biehl (Hands down my favorite ethnography of all time.)

Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society by Beth Conklin

The Pastoral Clinic by Angela Garcia

Writing Women’s Worlds by Lila Abu-Lughod

Wayward Women: Sexuality and Agency in a New Guinea Society by Holly Wardlow

Linguistic Anthropology


The Silent Language by Edward T. Hall


Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes and Language: The Cultural Tool by Daniel Everett

The Everyday Language of White Racism by Jane Hill



What This Awl Means: Feminist Archaeology at a Wahpeton Dakota Village by Janet Spector


Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology by Kenneth Feder

Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage by William Rathje and Callen Murphy

Biological Anthropology


Origins by Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin

Disclosing the Past by Mary Leakey

In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall


What it Means to be 98% Chimpanzee and Why I am Not a Scientist by Jonathan Marks

Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature by Augustin Fuentes

The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates by Franz de Waal


Will is the admin of Queereka, part of the Skepchick network. They are a cultural/medical anthropologist who works at the intersections of sex/gender, sexuality, health, and education. Their other interests include politics, science studies, popular culture, and public perceptions and understandings of anthropology. Follow them on Twitter at @anthrowill and Facebook at

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  1. Will,

    Thanks for posting this. I’m very interested in the subject. I took a couple anthropology classes in collage. I also know someone else who will really like this. I would have commented earlier, if not for the issue I was having with the error messages.

    1. No problem! Glad that it might help people read some cool anthropology.

      I think Rebecca is still trying to figure out what the error is with commenting. But it is known and being looked into. ;)

      Also followed you back on twitter. I don’t post there very often, I do most of my social media stuff on facebook.

  2. Will,

    By the way, I just started following you on twitter. I can’t believe I wasn’t doing that before.

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