In this illuminating tour of humanity, Joy Hendry and Simon Underdown reveal the origins of our species, and the fabric of human society, through the discipline of anthropology. Via fascinating case studies and discoveries, they unravel our understanding of human behaviours and beliefs, including how witchcraft has been used to justify misfortune, and debunk old-fashioned ideas about “race” based upon the latest genetic research. They even share what our bathroom tells us about our concept of the body – and ourselves.
From our evolutionary ancestors, through our rites of passage, to our responses to globalization, Hendry and Underdown provide the essential first step to understanding the world as an anthropologist would – in all its diversity and commonality.
Joy Hendry is Professor of Social Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University and is author of the university-level textbook Sharing Our Worlds, now in its second edition. Her fieldwork has been in Japan.
Simon Underdown is Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology, also at Brookes University, where his research looks at the extinction of Neanderthals. He has written about evolution for the Guardian. Both authors live in Oxfordshire.