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Arjun Appadurai

(b. 1949)

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Indian-born, US-based cultural anthropologist and co-founder of the important postcolonial theory journal Public Culture. Born and educated in Mumbai, Appadurai moved to the US in 1967, completing a BA at Brandeis, followed by a PhD at the University of Chicago. He now works at The New School, New York. In 1988 he edited a collection of essays entitled The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, which set out to chart (on a global scale) the creation and regulation of and variation in taste, asking why one kind of thing is valued in one place and not another and just as importantly at one time and not another. His introductory essay to this collection is a landmark in the field of cultural anthropology. Perhaps his most important work, at least from the perspective of critical theory, is Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (1996), which offers a fivefold theory of global cultural flows, or scapes, that taken together comprise the contemporary social imaginary. His most recent work, Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (2006), has concentrated on affect, particularly anger.

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