Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

Cultural Relations of Classification: An Analysis of Nuaulu Animal Categories from Central Seram

Series: Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology

By: R Ellen

315 pages, Figs, tabs

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Aug 1993 | #34010 | ISBN: 052143114X
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £101.00 $130/€119 approx

About this book

Ethnobiology is concerned with the social and cultural transformation of biological knowledge. Roy Ellen, who has worked among the Nuaulu people of eastern Indonesia for more than twenty years, argues here that ethnobiology is a key theoretical area of anthropological enquiry, because it relies on accessible ethnography to explain the interrelationship between collective representations and cognitive processes. He demonstrates this through a detailed analysis of Nuaulu classification of animal knowledge: the relationship between animal words and animal categories; the construction of different categories and their relationship to one another, and the actual language of classification. The classifications are shown to be context-bound and socially embedded, of practical importance to their users, and to reflect an interaction between culture, cognitive processes and the material world. This is an innovative study, which takes our understanding beyond the taxonomic abstraction characteristic of earlier work in the field.


1. Introduction; 2. The language of classification; 3. Processes of identification and the structure of categories; 4. The relations between non-basic categories; 5. Consistency, sharing and flexibility; 6. Social intrusions and cultural styles; 7. Changes in classifying behaviour; 8. Cognition and cultural relations of prehension; Appendices; Notes; References; Indexes.

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