Ecology and the Sacred commemorates and advances the anthropology of Roy A. (Skip) Rappaport. Rappaport was an original and visionary thinker whose writings, like these essays, encompass ecological theory and method; ritual, the sacred, and the cybernetics of the holy; the structural study of social maladaptation or "the anthropology of trouble"; and a policy-engaged anthropology that addresses social complexity and structural disorders in modern contexts. The contributors, who are leaders in anthropological studies of the environment and of religion, address themes emerging from Rappaport's pioneering ethnography of Papua New Guinea through his engagement with contemporary social problems. In addition to presenting significant new ethnographic data and sharp critical perspectives, the collection demonstrates the essential holism of anthropology as represented by Rappaport's contributions and legacy.
At a time when anthropology is fractured by debates over whether it is a science or a humanistic tradition, theoretical or applied, this festschrift testifies that a unified anthropology is both possible and necessary for the understanding of humanity and global transformations. The volume will be of interest not only to anthropologists, but to geographers, sociologists, scholars in science-studies, historians, and experts and practitioners in religious studies, as well.
Ellen Messer is Visiting Associate Professor, Tufts University. Michael Lambek is Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto.