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Empirical FuturesAnthropologists and Historians Engage the Work of Sidney W. Mintz$
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George Baca, Aisha Khan, and Stephan Palmie

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833452

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807895344_baca

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Toward an Anthropology of Excess

Toward an Anthropology of Excess

Wanting More (While Getting Less) on a Caribbean Global Periphery

(p.196) Toward an Anthropology of Excess
Empirical Futures

Samuel Martínez

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on Sidney Mintz's recasting of widely accepted conceptual binaries between personal experience and social meaning, which is considered one of his fundamental but perhaps still-underappreciated theoretical-interpretive innovations within the anthropological study of consumption. In much prior social research, what people feel as they consume goods was conventionally ignored in favor of consideration of what they think of goods as a sign of social status or identity. Inexplicit urges to consume were tacitly relegated by social researchers to the level of hereditary predispositions or other, nontheorizable phenomena, much less readily cognizable as the desires inculcated in us by society—such as aspirations to emulate superiors or to build or block certain social ties through the medium of goods. Mintz chooses instead to work on the middle ground in between those biology-culture and self-society dualisms.

Keywords:   Sidney Mintz, conceptual binaries, personal experience, social meaning, theoretical-interpretive innovations, anthropological study, consumption

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