This collection of twenty-eight essays by renowned anthropologist Eric R. Wolf is a legacy of some of his most original work, with an insightful foreword by Aram Yengoyan. Of the essays, six have never been published and two have not appeared in English until now. Shortly before his death, Wolf prepared introductions to each section and individual pieces, as well as an intellectual autobiography that introduces the collection as a whole. Sydel Silverman, who completed the editing of the book, says in her preface, "He wanted this selection of his writings over the past half-century to serve as part of the history of how anthropology brought the study of complex societies and world systems into its purview."
Eric R. Wolf(1923-1999) had an illustrious and influential career as Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at H. Lehman College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. His books previously published by California include Europe and the People Without History (reprint with new preface, 1997), Envisioning Power (1999), and The Hidden Frontier (with John W. Cole; reprint with new introduction, 1999). Sydel Silverman is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the City University of New York. She was president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research from 1987 to 1999.
"Eric Wolf has literally set the terms for anthropological thinking about peasantries, culture and power, complex societies, and interactions between noncapitalist societies and capitalism. Every item in this excellent collection has stimulated and influenced both my own thought and that of many others in our field, as well as beyond it. "—Katherine Verdery, University of Michigan
"This powerful body of work begins ('Anthropology') and ends ('Concepts') in a rather speculative vein, taking us into the ideas of others and then back to Wolf. In these two sections we get a picture of the development of currents in anthropology (and the social sciences more broadly) from the early fifties to the present and the way in which Wolf's intellectual and political development was threaded through those debates and controversies. In the middle two sections ('Connections' and 'Peasants') we get the pathbreaking pieces that made Wolf the major figure he is. "—Gavin Smith, University of Toronto
"There is a large audience, to be found in anthropology and in related fields like history, cultural studies, gender studies, etc., who will receive the writings of Eric Wolf with appreciation. . . . His work is fully in the comparative anthropological tradition . . . [and] demonstrates the power of comparative historical analysis. "—Abraham Rosman, Barnard College, Columbia University