Our guns, our selves

Archaeologists spend a lot of time analyzing weapons of our prehistoric past. Cultural anthropologists are more likely to study bananas, cars and wedding dress style. Commodity studies in cultural anthropology rarely address weapons.

No doubt one reason is that they are hard to study — people are less likely to want to share stories about their weapons than their cars or favorite food. A few brave anthropologists have ventured into gun studies. A few others provide contextual insights into U.S. culture and links to the love of guns among so many people.

Here are some recent sources (most are not publicly accessible, with my apologies) by anthropologists:

Journal articles from my AnthroPlus search via my university library:

  • Anderson, Leon, and Jimmy D. Taylor. 2010. Standing Out while Fitting In: Serious Leisure Identities and Aligning Actions among Skydivers and Gun Collectors. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 39(1):34-59.
  • Crist, Thomas A. 2006. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Bioarchaeology and the Modern Gun Culture Debate. Historical Archaeology 40(3):109-130.
  • Davidson, James M. 2008. Identity and Violent Death: Contextualizing Lethal Gun Violence within the African American Community of Dallas, TX (1900-1907). Journal of Social Archaeology 8(3):320-354.
  • Ibhawoh, Bonny. 2002. Stronger than the Maxim Gun: Law, Human Rights and British Colonial Hegemony in Nigeria. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 72(1):55-83.
  • Johnson, Colin. 1982. Eastern India: The Plight of Ethnic Minorities – “He Who Lays Down His Gun Lays Down His Freedom”. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. Newsletter.no.31-32: 90-99.
  • Kümpel, Noëlle F., E. J. Milner-Gulland, J. Marcus Rowcliffe, and Guy Cowlishaw. 2008. Impact of Gun-Hunting on Diurnal Primates in Continental Equatorial Guinea. International Journal of Primatology 29(4):1065-1082.
  • MacMillan, Douglas C., and Kirsty Leitch. 2008. Conservation with a Gun: Understanding Landowner Attitudes to Deer Hunting in the Scottish Highlands. Human Ecology 36(4):473-484.
  • McCaskie, T. C. 2008. Gun Culture in Kumasi. Africa: Journal of the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures 78(3):433-454.
  • Stretesky, Paul B., and Mark R. Pogrebin. 2007. Gang-Related Gun Violence: Socialization, Identity, and Self. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 36(1):85-114.
  • Sutton, David, and Peter Wogan. 2003. The Gun, the Pen, and the Cannoli: Orality and Writing in the Godfather, Part I. Anthropology and Humanism 28(2):155-167.

Anthro books about gun culture cross-culturally:

  • Springwood, Charles F., ed. 2007. Open Fire: Understanding Global Gun Cultures. Berg.

Anthro books about “American culture” esp “white culture”:

  • Hartigan Jr., John. 2005. Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Riley-Smith, Tristam. 2010. The Cracked Bell: America and the Afflictions of Liberty. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. [see index for several references to guns, gun laws].

2 thoughts on “Our guns, our selves

  1. JP

    Hi – I’m interested to know more about the “AnthroPlus” search–I’m unfamiliar with it, and a web search does not bring up anything too useful.



  2. Hi,
    AnthroPlus is a searchable database of anthro and related journal articles. It’s probably available only to people who have access to their college/ university/other library.
    The best alternative is to go to Google Scholar and use search terms such as: guns anthropology.
    All the best,


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