What are genres good for?

Divisions, demarcations and classifications in structural and cognitive anthropology, on the example of music culture

  • Bojan Žikić Department of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
cognitive anthropology, anthropological structuralism, genre, music


Levi-Strauss’s theoretical-methodological "legatee" – anthropological structuralism was one of the most important theoretical frameworks used in cognitive anthropology. Since it was sometimes too abstract for ‘practical’ minds, trained in British-American empirical traditions, Levi-Strauss thought was mediated through the works of British structural-functionalist, particularly those of Mary Douglas and Edmund Leach, who established its premises as a kind of contextualised particularism of the unquestioned universalism. Ideas about the way in which human cultural mind functions, is one of the corner stones of cognitive anthropology, which cognitive anthropology shares with structural anthropology, and from which cognitive anthropology actually inherits what it shares with structural anthropology – this sounds properly structural – that is: an interest in the processes of division, demarcation and classification in a sense of cultural management of a perceived surrounding reality. An example for such analysis, that I use in this paper, is music, or more precisely music culture, an expression that I use in order to imply that the affinity to a type of music, or musical genre should be understood in a sense of a particular cultural way of thinking and acting.


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How to Cite
Žikić, Bojan. 2009. “What Are Genres Good For?”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 4 (2), 219-40. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v4i2.12.

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