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Her new essay, clearly intended to be an update of its predecessor, displays many of the same qualities of breadth of range and skill in synthesis, and is equally effective in giving voice to widely shared concerns and attitudes in the discipline.

Similar arguments are now being made independently by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, the British social theorist Anthony Giddens and others in what is certainly the most ambitious set of attempts to formulate a general theory of social process since the work of Talcott Parsons and his colleagues in the 1950's.

Research is what happens in universities (although by no means exclusively so), and takes its place alongside teaching and administration, and various forms of ‘service’.

That economy in itself is increasingly complex, and contested – the Academy as we know only too well is riven with contradiction and paranoia, marked as it is by hothouse mixes of performativity and intensification.

Research is what counts, however – or so we are told, repeatedly.

But are we indeed confident that we know what research is, or what is named thus? Are there other terms that might be mobilised here, which might better serve us in our various undertakings in this regard?

The theory put forward in The Origin is based largely upon the pioneering research of the nineteenth-century anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan.

Sherry Ortner’s (1984) paper on “Theory in anthropology since the sixties” was an extraordinarily skillful, timely, and influential synthesis of what a range of anthropologists and others were thinking at the time, and it set a theoretical agenda for many within the discipline for years to come.

The arguments of ''Islands of History'' are developed through analyses of events in Polynesian history, the most dramatic of which is the killing of Captain James Cook on the shore of a Hawaiian island in 1779.

Chapter Four (a good place to start) is a powerful and moving essay demonstrating the extent to which the killing of Captain Cook represented at one level a playing out of a Polynesian cultural scenario with its own organization and its own momentum.

At the same time, structure (or culture) is historical; that is, it is not a set of transcendental and virtually immutable forms, but a historically generated and socially changeable system.

THE general point of ''Islands of History'' is that historical process - social and cultural continuity as well as social and cultural change - is ''structural'': it is organized in terms of cultural programs.

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