Author Topic: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions  (Read 3834 times)

use2betrix

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Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« on: September 09, 2020, 07:52:16 AM »
I’ve read countless amazing books over the years about things like, personal finance/money, positive thinking, habit’s, workplace success. When I started running a couple years ago I got into “running” books, and knocked out about 15-20 books on the topic since then.

A couple months ago a friend recommended “Sapiens” which is largely about evolution and history starting hundreds of thousands of years ago. It discusses things from the impact of agriculture, to broad mentions on how economies and cultures evolved.

That lead me to reading the sequel “Homo Deus” which is somewhat more of a futuristic discussion on where we may end up, following our current path of life (technology, over population, climate change, water shortage, etc.)

From there I read one of Bill Gates suggestions, “Origin Stories” which looks at much of the same period as “Sapiens” except for more of a scientific/biology standpoint than as much being anthropology. It also goes much further back with theories on how Earth was created and the start of life.

These got me interested in Economics, so now I’m about finished with, “A Little History of Economics.” Which is also awesome.

I’m looking for more suggestions on general economics, anthropology, or evolution. Learning about these topics in this much depth is pretty new to me (although I did take two economics courses in college).
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 08:11:53 AM by use2betrix »

use2betrix

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2020, 08:45:06 AM »
I downloaded, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson that has some awesome reviews. Will follow up with my thoughts once finished.

All the books I mentioned above I found excellent and would recommend (unless you’re an expert on the topic and want incredibly focused details in lieu of a broader picture, that seems to be the only complaints by some readers).


rab-bit

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2020, 04:04:58 PM »
At one time, Dr. Harari had a course on Coursera based on the Sapiens book, but that course in gone now (I was fortunate enough to take it in 2014). However, the lectures have been uploaded to YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfc2WtGuVPdmhYaQjd449k-YeY71fiaFp) and I can highly recommend them.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 04:07:47 PM by rab-bit »

grantmeaname

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2020, 06:07:31 AM »
If you're after anthropology the bad news is that there is a lot of bad pop anthropology written by people who don't especially understand anthropology. (What's up, Jared Diamond?) If you are okay with a bit more academic of a work Stone Age Economics by Marshall Sahlins is old and not especially readable, but revolutionary. If you're really thirsty for more, I might suggest a MOOC on your platform of choice (e.g. Coursera) from an actual anthropologist.

MMM recommended Economics Explained by Robert Heilbroner and Lester Thurow 7-8 years ago and I found that a very good introduction to economics. Some other books I would heartily recommend heartily that are economics-adjacent are Farm by Richard Rhodes, Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar, Open Borders by Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith, The Benefit and the Burden by Bruce Bartlett, When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein, The Big Short and Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, and American Steel by Richard Preston.

On evolution (tangentially) you may like the works of Robert Wright, who writes about behavioral/spiritual topics like meditation and the existence of God from an evolutionary psychology perspective. I read Why Buddhism Is True earlier this year (great book, terrible title).

economista

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2020, 07:31:01 AM »
I always recommend “Naked Economics” and the “freakonomics” books as a good starting point for general economics books that explain things well but aren’t boring.

use2betrix

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2020, 01:34:16 PM »
Thanks for all the great feedback! Definitely some good ones to add to the list. I’ll continue with comments as I finish some of them. I listen on audible during my commutes, so I’m not too keen anything “too” dry.

sui generis

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2020, 09:59:10 PM »
You might try Affluence Without Abundance by James Suzman. It leans anthropological but has a lot of historical and comparative economics discussion as well. I found it an interesting read!

bbqbonelesswing

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2020, 06:59:22 AM »
These are some of my favorite topics to read about. Here are a few I'd recommend:

Finance:
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
The Ascent of Money by Nail Ferguson
Devil Take the Hindmost by Edward Chancellor
Any books by Michael Lewis- The Fifth Risk, The Big Short, Boomerang, etc.
Bailout Nation by Barry Ritholtz
Masters of Enterprise by HW Brands
The Indian World of George Washington by Colin Calloway
War is a Racket by Smedley Butler

Anthropology/archaeology:
Against the Grain by James Scott
Last Ape Standing by Chip Walter
Three Stones Make a Wall by Eric Cline

stoaX

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2020, 02:24:31 PM »
These are some of my favorite topics to read about. Here are a few I'd recommend:

Finance:
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
The Ascent of Money by Nail Ferguson
Devil Take the Hindmost by Edward Chancellor
Any books by Michael Lewis- The Fifth Risk, The Big Short, Boomerang, etc.
Bailout Nation by Barry Ritholtz
Masters of Enterprise by HW Brands
The Indian World of George Washington by Colin Calloway
War is a Racket by Smedley Butler

Anthropology/archaeology:
Against the Grain by James Scott
Last Ape Standing by Chip Walter
Three Stones Make a Wall by Eric Cline

I will add to the chorus of praise for the Freakanomic books. To me, they were just plain fun to read.  And thanks for this list, I will have to check some of them out.

bacchi

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2020, 07:24:50 PM »
Collapse of Complex Societies

okisok

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2020, 07:38:47 PM »
+1 on Sapiens

HMman

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2020, 04:43:14 PM »
You might try Affluence Without Abundance by James Suzman. It leans anthropological but has a lot of historical and comparative economics discussion as well. I found it an interesting read!

Yes, seconding this suggestion. I read it a couple of months ago, and if you're interested in anthropology you'll likely enjoy it.

Sun Hat

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2020, 03:56:04 PM »
Two books that I've enjoyed that look at economics and anthropology are "Economics and Morality: Anthropological Approaches", Katherine Browne and B. Lynne Milgram Eds., Altamira Press, 2009. and "Fast Food/Slow Food: The Cultural Economy of the Global Food System", Richard Wilk Ed., Altamira Press, 2006. Both are collections of scholarly essays, and so instead of culminating in an overarching point, they're a collection of snippets of loosely related research.

"Peasant Movements in Post-Colonial India: Dynamics of Mobilization and Identity" by Debal K. Singroy might be hard to find but was FASCINATING. I took a course on social movements by the author.

"Ethnic Conflict: A Global Perspective" by Stefan Wolff is a bit of a downer, but is a great primer to understanding many conflicts (Disclaimer - I read this many years ago along with a number of other books on the subject, so I'm not 100% which was the good one)


Let me know if you're interested in ethnic conflict, postcolonial theory, English as a world language, or food sovereignty - these are my jam (and I'm always excited to find others who share my niche - if somewhat depressing interests!)

katsiki

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2020, 07:28:17 PM »
Two books that I've enjoyed that look at economics and anthropology are "Economics and Morality: Anthropological Approaches", Katherine Browne and B. Lynne Milgram Eds., Altamira Press, 2009. and "Fast Food/Slow Food: The Cultural Economy of the Global Food System", Richard Wilk Ed., Altamira Press, 2006. Both are collections of scholarly essays, and so instead of culminating in an overarching point, they're a collection of snippets of loosely related research.

"Peasant Movements in Post-Colonial India: Dynamics of Mobilization and Identity" by Debal K. Singroy might be hard to find but was FASCINATING. I took a course on social movements by the author.

"Ethnic Conflict: A Global Perspective" by Stefan Wolff is a bit of a downer, but is a great primer to understanding many conflicts (Disclaimer - I read this many years ago along with a number of other books on the subject, so I'm not 100% which was the good one)


Let me know if you're interested in ethnic conflict, postcolonial theory, English as a world language, or food sovereignty - these are my jam (and I'm always excited to find others who share my niche - if somewhat depressing interests!)

I'm not the OP but I would be curious about "English as a world language".

Malcat

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2020, 06:00:29 AM »
If you're after anthropology the bad news is that there is a lot of bad pop anthropology written by people who don't especially understand anthropology. (What's up, Jared Diamond?) If you are okay with a bit more academic of a work Stone Age Economics by Marshall Sahlins is old and not especially readable, but revolutionary. If you're really thirsty for more, I might suggest a MOOC on your platform of choice (e.g. Coursera) from an actual anthropologist.

MMM recommended Economics Explained by Robert Heilbroner and Lester Thurow 7-8 years ago and I found that a very good introduction to economics. Some other books I would heartily recommend heartily that are economics-adjacent are Farm by Richard Rhodes, Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar, Open Borders by Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith, The Benefit and the Burden by Bruce Bartlett, When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein, The Big Short and Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, and American Steel by Richard Preston.

On evolution (tangentially) you may like the works of Robert Wright, who writes about behavioral/spiritual topics like meditation and the existence of God from an evolutionary psychology perspective. I read Why Buddhism Is True earlier this year (great book, terrible title).

I cannot support this enough.

I enjoyed Guns, Germs, and Steel, but I read everything with a heavy, heaping dose of cynicism. This includes academic texts, but goes a thousand fold for pop culture "educational" books.

If it's sold on Amazon and contains any degree of anthropology, science, or medicine, then I just expect it to be heavily coloured by whatever lens the author is looking through. That's doesn't necessarily invalidate them, it just keeps in perspective that the author has an angle.

Right now I'm slowly rereading all of Nassim Taleb's books. He certainly has an angle, but that's the real value of his work, that his agenda is so contrarian to what many of us academic types are indoctrinated with that it helps challenge a lot of my foundational intellectual beliefs, which I'm always down for.

Plus I find Taleb hilarious, and I share his fundamental mistrust of anyone who invokes neuroscience in their explanations of anything.

I like to read books back to back that contradict each other. I also like to read all of the criticisms of a book before I start it.

Sun Hat

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2020, 10:05:54 AM »


I'm not the OP but I would be curious about "English as a world language".

WooHoo!!!

"The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language" by Alstair Pennycook
There are a few issues with using English: in places that were colonized by England, English can be the only common language (such as in India and Nigeria) while not being native, which can hamper the development of an inward-looking postcolonial identity because the dominant literature, and thus cultural norms, continue to be imported from the former colonial power. Another issue is with the language itself: English imports words and phrases from other languages to adapt to new concepts (arguably a good thing), while still failing to adequately express the nuances or idioms found in local languages. This can dilute the transmission of cultural knowledge between generations, leading to cultural loss. I can't remember if this book also looks at how English can be adapted to local settings to use English words along with the syntax used in the more dominant local languages to better fit what people want to say (then you get into a cool debate as to whether or not this is still "correct" English). Pennycook also looks at how the export of English literature and culture was a formally adopted government strategy to build a fondness for Britain, helping everything from foreign policy to university recruitment.


To a lesser degree:

"Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process" by Ato Quason
Full disclosure: I'm unusually interested in Nigerian postcolonial literature for a white Canadian who has never been to Nigeria. Postcolonialism looks at the creation of identity distinct from the colonial power's, including placing value on both cultural elements adopted through colonialism as well as traditional knowledges. As it pertains to the English language, postcolonial authors like Quayson wrestle with wanting to write in their native tongues, wanting their writing to be accessible to their whole country's population, and the desire for an international audience. In this book, Quayson looks at literature as a politically symbolic act and particularly at how Shakespeare is studied by all former British colonies as being the pinnacle of literature, causing a normalization of British life, climate, and values, which can make colonials feel comparatively sub-par.


katsiki

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2020, 06:39:35 PM »


I'm not the OP but I would be curious about "English as a world language".

WooHoo!!!

"The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language" by Alstair Pennycook
There are a few issues with using English: in places that were colonized by England, English can be the only common language (such as in India and Nigeria) while not being native, which can hamper the development of an inward-looking postcolonial identity because the dominant literature, and thus cultural norms, continue to be imported from the former colonial power. Another issue is with the language itself: English imports words and phrases from other languages to adapt to new concepts (arguably a good thing), while still failing to adequately express the nuances or idioms found in local languages. This can dilute the transmission of cultural knowledge between generations, leading to cultural loss. I can't remember if this book also looks at how English can be adapted to local settings to use English words along with the syntax used in the more dominant local languages to better fit what people want to say (then you get into a cool debate as to whether or not this is still "correct" English). Pennycook also looks at how the export of English literature and culture was a formally adopted government strategy to build a fondness for Britain, helping everything from foreign policy to university recruitment.


To a lesser degree:

"Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process" by Ato Quason
Full disclosure: I'm unusually interested in Nigerian postcolonial literature for a white Canadian who has never been to Nigeria. Postcolonialism looks at the creation of identity distinct from the colonial power's, including placing value on both cultural elements adopted through colonialism as well as traditional knowledges. As it pertains to the English language, postcolonial authors like Quayson wrestle with wanting to write in their native tongues, wanting their writing to be accessible to their whole country's population, and the desire for an international audience. In this book, Quayson looks at literature as a politically symbolic act and particularly at how Shakespeare is studied by all former British colonies as being the pinnacle of literature, causing a normalization of British life, climate, and values, which can make colonials feel comparatively sub-par.

Thanks @Sun Hat !!

slackmax

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2021, 03:30:26 PM »
I downloaded, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson that has some awesome reviews. Will follow up with my thoughts once finished.

All the books I mentioned above I found excellent and would recommend (unless you’re an expert on the topic and want incredibly focused details in lieu of a broader picture, that seems to be the only complaints by some readers).

I just finished it. 400 pages!  It took me 6 months, reading it off and on. I went page by page, whenever I felt like it.

This book was NEVER dull (for me). I must be a natural history nerd or something.

The interesting thing about Bryson is that he shows the many different and possibly conflicting ideas of great minds over the ages. There was lots of animosity among contemporary scientists, and he tells us all about it.

Just a very interesting book.  Origin of the universe.  Geological upheavals of the earth over ages.   Even Human Evolution!  And much more.

I recommend it, if you are into these things.   

Edubb20

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2021, 09:04:40 AM »
Bullshit Jobs is a fantastic book and treads ground in both cultural anthropology and economics.

stoaX

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2021, 06:02:22 AM »
I downloaded, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson that has some awesome reviews. Will follow up with my thoughts once finished.

All the books I mentioned above I found excellent and would recommend (unless you’re an expert on the topic and want incredibly focused details in lieu of a broader picture, that seems to be the only complaints by some readers).

I just finished it. 400 pages!  It took me 6 months, reading it off and on. I went page by page, whenever I felt like it.

This book was NEVER dull (for me). I must be a natural history nerd or something.

The interesting thing about Bryson is that he shows the many different and possibly conflicting ideas of great minds over the ages. There was lots of animosity among contemporary scientists, and he tells us all about it.

Just a very interesting book.  Origin of the universe.  Geological upheavals of the earth over ages.   Even Human Evolution!  And much more.

I recommend it, if you are into these things.

Agreed.  I've read it twice and will probably do so again.

NorCal

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2021, 07:17:20 AM »
Economics is a tough one, although I deliberately separate it from finance.  The category of "popular" economics books either focus on Behavioral Economics or are political works that try to use economic math to prove their point.

Behavioral Economics is interesting, but it can be summed up as "people don't always behave the way mathematical models say they should".  While this can be interesting, it's not very enlightening unless you have some grounding in the economic models they're criticizing.

The political books are useful if you want more confirmation bias in your life, or if you want to sound smarter in your arguments.  But they don't actually help you understand economics. 

I have heard good things about Economics Explained, but I haven't read it myself.  I had several good graduate level economics textbooks many years ago, but I imagine that's not what you're looking for.

Mr.Money-Curtain

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Re: Anthropology and Economics Book Suggestions
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2022, 08:57:04 AM »
At one time, Dr. Harari had a course on Coursera based on the Sapiens book, but that course in gone now (I was fortunate enough to take it in 2014). However, the lectures have been uploaded to YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/ uk.edubirdie =PLfc2WtGuVPdmhYaQjd449k-YeY71fiaFp) and can do law essay writing, highly recommend them.
Thank you, very useful, it's as addictive as a TV series. Now subscribed to the channel.
I also want to share my experience of reading "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S. Clayson, because I think the nature of the presentation is quite similar.
In The Richest Man in Babylon, recipes for saving yourself from a "skinny" wallet can be called the foundation of financial literacy. The purpose of the book: to offer those who are willing to learn how to save capital, save it, and make it work for profit.
The first copies of the work earned their success instantly, as the book broadcast the basics of financial freedom, was the foundation of financial literacy and at the same time was available to everyone!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 03:44:05 AM by Mr.Money-Curtain »