An Anthropology of Names and Naming

An Anthropology of Names and Naming

By: Gabriele vom Bruck (editor), Barbara Bodenhorn (editor)Paperback

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This book is about personal names, something of abiding interest to specialists and lay readers alike. Over a million people have checked the American Name Society website since 1996, for instance. Many philosophers and linguists suggest that names are 'just' labels, but parents internationally are determined to get their children's names 'right'. Personal names may be given, lost, traded, stolen and inherited. This collection of essays provides comparative ethnography through which we examine the politics of naming; the extent to which names may be property-like; and the power of names themselves, both to fix and to destabilize personal identity. Our purpose is not only to renew anthropological attention to names and naming, but to show how this intersects with current interests in political processes, the relation between bodies and personal identities, ritual and daily social life.

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About Author

Barbara Bodenhorn is a Newton Trust Lecturer in Social Anthropology and a Fellow of Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge. She has worked with Inupiat in northern Alaska since 1980, publishing on kinship, economic relations, gender, and knowledge systems. Her current research focuses on languages of risk and institutionalized decision-making processes in Mexico as well as the Arctic. Gabriele vom Bruck is currently a lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Previously, she held the post of visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. She has published in a number of leading journals such as Signs and Analles. Additonally, she has been awarded the Studeienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes and has completed extended research in the Republic of Yemen.


1. 'Entangled in histories': an introduction to the anthropology of names and naming Barbara Bodenhorn and Gabriele vom Bruck; 2. 'Your child deserves a name': possessive individualism and the politics of memory of pregnancy loss Linda Layne; 3. Names that do not need people Andre Iteanu; 4. The substance of northwest Amazonian names Stephen Hugh-Jones; 5. Teknonymy and the evocation of the 'social' among the Zafimaniry of Madagascar Maurice Bloch; 6. What's in a name? Name bestowal and the identity of spirits in Mayotte and Northwest Madagascar Michael Lambek; 7. Calling into being: naming and speaking names on Alaska's North Slope Barbara Bodenhorn; 8. On being named and not named: authority, persons and their names in Mongolia Caroline Humphrey; 9. Injurious names: naming, disavowal and recuperation in contexts of slavery and emancipation Susan Benson; 10. Where names fall short: names as performances in contemporary urban South Africa Thomas Blom Hansen; 11. Names as bodily signs Gabriele vom Bruck.

Product Details

  • publication date: 29/10/2009
  • ISBN13: 9780521121712
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 304
  • ID: 9780521121712
  • weight: 450
  • ISBN10: 052112171X

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