It’s like the Bourne Supremacy, but without Matt Damon.
I was recently emailing back and forth to one of my colleagues in my department about how to put together the reading lists for grad students taking their comps (or quals or whatever you want to call it). There was a bit of confusion at one point about whether we were talking about Roland Barthes or Frederik Barth. This then led to a discussion of their relative merits and we ended up hitting upon a solution to the arduous process of having students compose their reading lists and then have one professor insist Foucault ought be on it, another insist that Foucault not be allowed but V. Gordon Childe is a must, and so forth: Simply make the Complete Works of Frederik Barth the single mandatory reading list for all graduate students.
Of course this was supposed to be funny, but the more I thought about it the more sense it made. Think of the range of ethnography that you’d get: Afghanistan, Bali, Papua New Guinea, Europe. And while Barth’s intellectual trajectory is not incoherent, he has managed to embrace several different moments in anthropological theory. And he’s a clear writer.
So there you have it: The Barth Solution — try it today!