To listen to David M. Schneider is to hear the voice of American anthropology. To listen at length is to hear much of the discipline’s history, from the realities of postwar practice and theory to Schneider’s own influence on the development of symbolic and interpretive anthropology in the 1970s and 1980s. Schneider on Schneider offers readers this rare opportunity, and with it an engrossing introduction into a world of intellectual rigor, personal charm, and wit.
In this work, based on conversations with Richard Handler, Schneider tells the story of his days devoted to anthropology—as a student of Clyde Kluckhohn and Talcott Parsons and as a writer and teacher whose work on kinship and culture theory revolutionized the discipline. With a master’s sense of the telling anecdote, he describes his education at Cornell, Yale, and Harvard, his fieldwork on the Micronesian island of Yap and among the Mescalero Apache, and his years teaching at the London School of Economics, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago. Musing on the current state and the future of anthropology, Schneider’s cast of characters reads like a who’s who of postwar social science. His reflections on anthropological field research and academic politics address some of the most pressing ethical and epistemological issues facing scholars today, while yielding tales of unexpected amusement.
With its humor and irony, its wealth of information and searching questions about the state of anthropology, Schneider on Schneider not only provides an important resource for the history of twentieth-century social science, but also brings to life the entertaining voice of an engaging storyteller.