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Kuppinger is co-editor of 6th edition of urban anthropology reader

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – A Monmouth College professor has taken over some of the editorial duties of the oldest reader in her field.

Anthropology professor Petra Kuppinger is co-editor of the sixth edition of Urban Life: Readings in Urban Anthropology (Waveland Press 2018). First published in 1980, Urban Life is the oldest urban anthropology reader of its kind.

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. The reader attempts to answer such questions as “What are their lives like in very different global and globalizing cities?” and “How can urban anthropologists study and understand the diverse and complex experiences of urban dwellers all over the globe?”

One of the publication’s original editors, George Gmelch, asked Kuppinger three years ago if she would join him in editing the collection’s sixth edition.

“I was extremely honored and also moved that one of the very respected elders in the field of urban anthropology would approach me and hand over significant aspects of the future of this collection to me,” said Kuppinger. “I humbly and happily accepted the challenge.”

Kuppinger got to work updating the reader by removing a third of the fifth edition’s content and replacing it with new chapters, two of which she wrote herself, and another that she co-wrote.

“I ended up restructuring part of the collection, taking out chapters and adding 12 new chapters,” said Kuppinger. “I also rewrote or wrote all the introductory pieces to the various sections of the book.”

The book is organized into six parts: urban fieldwork; communities; urban structure, inequality and survival; immigrants, migrants and refugees; changing cities; and current topics in urban anthropology.

Kuppinger’s chapters appear in the book’s current topics section: “Waste and Garbage in the City: A Case Study from Cairo, Egypt” and “Preaching, Place-Making, Community-Building and Gardening: Lived Religion in a German City.” Kuppinger also co-authored the chapter on Guatemala City.

Wrote reviewer Devin Heyward of Saint Peter’s University: “The book covers a broad range of topics – both classics and more contemporary pieces. It really provides students with a thoughtful and insightful lens.”

“I have been using this reader since the second edition,” wrote reviewer Anthony Andrews of New College of Florida. “The manner in which you drop and add new materials in each edition conveys current and new directions of the field. Excellent reader.”

Kuppinger joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2000 after earning a doctorate from the New School for Social Research in New York City.