The range of Mary Douglas's interests had few parallels amongst the leading social anthropologists of the 20th century.
Although inspired by the classics of the discipline of anthropology, her theories were idiosyncratic and her applications of them never predictable.
By bringing together writings in different genres that she composed over the entirety of her career, this volume demonstrates her distinctive style of thought and expression. The topics she addressed ranged freely between family and friends, the demands of domestic routine, her belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, and cultural similarities and differences on a global scale. In her method and style, as much as in her explicit arguments, Mary Douglas constantly invited her readers to reflect on the inextricable intertwining of the personal and the theoretical in her thought.
More than any previous collection of Mary Douglas's work, A Very Personal Method reveals a mind restlessly reworking her enduring preoccupations and finding echoes of them in the new concerns she continued to draw from life.
Mary Douglas was one of the most widely read social anthropologists of the 20th Century. She is celebrated both as a literary stylist and an anthropological thinker who challenged common presuppositions and understandings of religion, economy and society. As a cornerstone of modernism in social anthropology, and a precursor of 21st Century interdisciplinarity, her work remains highly influential both within and outside the social sciences.
Richard Fardon is Mary Douglas's Literary Executor and Head of the Doctoral School and Professor of West African Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, UK
Mary Douglas's literary executor, Richard Fardon, is Professor of West African Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. A former student of Mary Douglas, his intellectual biography of her was published by Routledge in 1999, and updated by a Memoir in the Proceedings of the British Academy Memoir, 2010.
PART ONE: FAMILIAR FEELINGS A Feeling for Hierarchy Hooked on Fishing - Gilbert Tew, 1884-1951 The Gender of the Trout My Circus Fieldwork PART TWO: THINKING ABOUT CATHOLICISM IN LELE RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE The Lele of the Congo The Problem of Evil among the Lele: Sorcery, Witch-Hunt and Christian Teaching in Africa The Devil Vanishes Other Beings, Post-Colonially Correct The Cloud God and the Shadow Self PART THREE: TABOO AND RITUAL Taboo The Contempt of Ritual The Contempt of Ritual [Again] PART FOUR: CONTEMPORARIES On Franz Steiner: A Memoir On E. E. Evans-Prichard: from the Tablet Notebook On Levi-Strauss - Wild Pansies: Speaking Tenderly of its Layered Puff Pastry Effect Smothering the Differences: In a Savage Mind About Levi-Strauss On Clifford Geertz: The Self-Completing Animal PART FIVE: INCLUSION AS CONCLUSION Knowing the Code A Course off the Menu To Honour the Dead The Oracles of Love - A Play for AKT Sacraments and Society - An Anthropologist Asks What Women Could Be Doing in the Church Can a Scientist Be Objective about Her Faith? In Conversation with Deborah Jones EPILOGUE Original minds: Mary Douglas in Conversation with Eleanor Wachtel Granny Endpiece: The Golden Fish (the Brothers Grimm)