Abstract: This is a continuation in print of the conversation between two famous anthropologists, Professors Fei Xiaotong and Edmund Leach. It compares their two callings, or senses of vocation, as anthropologists and puts each into their historical context. To this it adds consideration of Maurice Freedman, a British anthropologist of Chinese society. It praises Fei for his patriotic and critical anthropology; it praises Leach for his critical and committed anthropology, which frees the discipline from its functionalist limitations; it praises Freedman for his critical extension of the concept of the corporate lineage beyond functionalism and into history. With Fei, it criticizes the narrowness of much anthropological writing for purely academic readerships, but comes to the conclusion that at its best anthropology is an independent and open critical vocation.
Keywords: Fei Xiaotong, Edmund Leach, Maurice Freedman, patriotic anthropology, anthropology as a calling
Stephan Feuchtwang 王斯福 is an Emeritus Professor of the Department of Anthropology, and founding director of the China in Comparative Perspective Network (CCPN), London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He was President of the British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS). Based on his long term studies on popular religion and politics in mainland China and Taiwan he published work on charisma, place, temples and festivals, and civil society. He has been engaging comparative studies exploring the recognition of catastrophic loss, and civilisations and empires. He is author of After the Event: The Transmission of Grievous Loss in Germany, China and Taiwan (2011), and Popular Religion in China: The Imperial Metaphor (2001).
Cite this article
A practically minded person: Fei Xiaotong’s anthropological calling and Edmund Leach’s game
Journal of China in Comparative Perspective
Vol.1 Issue 2. 2015, p14-26