Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description

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Routledge, Apr 19, 2011 - Social Science - 270 pages

Anthropology is a disciplined inquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life. Generations of theorists, however, have expunged life from their accounts, treating it as the mere output of patterns, codes, structures or systems variously defined as genetic or cultural, natural or social. Building on his classic work The Perception of the Environment, Tim Ingold sets out to restore life to where it should belong, at the heart of anthropological concern.

Being Alive ranges over such themes as the vitality of materials, what it means to make things, the perception and formation of the ground, the mingling of earth and sky in the weather-world, the experiences of light, sound and feeling, the role of storytelling in the integration of knowledge, and the potential of drawing to unite observation and description.

Our humanity, Ingold argues, does not come ready-made but is continually fashioned in our movements along ways of life. Starting from the idea of life as a process of wayfaring, Ingold presents a radically new understanding of movement, knowledge and description as dimensions not just of being in the world, but of being alive to what is going on there.


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List of figures
Anthropology comes to life
the world perceived through the feet
meditations on a process of skill
from environment to fluid space
social theory for arthropods
transport wayfaring and
speaking of animals among
reading writing painting
The textility of making
doing observing describing
Anthropology is not ethnography

The shape of the earth
Earth sky wind and weather
Four objections to the concept of soundscape

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About the author (2011)

Tim Ingold is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, UK. He is the author of The Perception of the Environment and Lines.

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