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Reflections on Cambridge

Alan Macfarlane
Distributed by Berghahn Books on Behalf of Social Science Press, Delhi

224 pages, 12 illus.

ISBN  978-8-18735-850-3 $29.95/£21.00 Pb Published (September 2009)



Click here to read Alan Macfarlane's OpEd for the History News Network

“I much enjoyed the Cambridge book - full of wisdom, warmth and great stories, a kind of manifesto for the liberal arts as well as a song of love for a place.”   ·  Michael Chaplin, Screenwriter and Playwright

“I have been reading and enjoying the book on Cambridge. As always with Alan Macfarlane’s work, it is whimsical, elegant, informative, scholarly, cosmopolitan and also gentle and friendly in its tone. Greatly enjoyable and very useful to those who don't know much about the intricacies of life at Cambridge.”  ·  Srijana Das, Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge

“Alan Macfarlane's Reflections on Cambridge is at once an intimate memoir and a practical guidebook. It offers the insights of a seasoned anthropologist about an ancient university as complex as any remote society, opening up the world of Cambridge institutions to readers everywhere in clear, engaging prose. As a newcomer to Cambridge, I found Macfarlane's book an invaluable resource.”  ·  Sara Shneiderman, Research Fellow, St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge


The traditions and creativity of Cambridge University have survived 800 years. In celebration, this first-ever combined historical and anthropological account explores the culture, the customs, the colleges and the politics of the revered institution. Having taught there for nearly forty years, the author sets forth a personal but also dispassionate attempt to understand how this ancient university developed and changed and how it continues to influence those who pass through it. This book delves into the history and architecture as well as the charm and the ghosts of Cambridge; it is for anyone who studies, teaches, visits, or is intrigued by this great intellectual centre.

Alan Macfarlane trained as a historian at Oxford from where he holds an M.A. and D.Phil. He also holds an M.Phil and Ph.D. from the University of London in anthropology. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of King’s College, Cambridge and is Emeritus Professor of Anthropological Science at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of seventeen published books on history and anthropology.

Subject: Educational Studies General History
Area: Europe

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List of Illustrations


Chapter 1. Strange Survival
Chapter 2. The Changing Same


Chapter 3. Charm and Ghosts
Chapter 4. Culture
Chapter 5. The Culture of Politics
Chapter 6. Rhytms


Chapter 7. Customs
Chapter 8. Colleges
Chapter 9. Community
Chapter 10. Associations


Chapter 11. Education
Chapter 12. Creativity
Chapter 13. Discovery

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