Our History

Our Prickly Past

In 1993, in Cambridge, England, the anthropologists Keith Hart and Anna Grimshaw started a small press called Prickly Pear. Inspired by the eighteenth-century figure of the pamphleteer, their goal was nothing less than to revitalize a stagnant academy. Together, they published a series of ten pamphlets by a range of authors—young, old, unknown, and famous—on a range of topics in anthropology, the history of science, and ethnographic film. "We emulate the passionate amateurs of history who circulated new and radical ideas to as wide an audience as possible," they said. "And we hope in the process to reinvent anthropology as a means of engaging with society." In 1998, Mark Harris and Matthew Engelke took over the press, expanding its operations in the world market and adding a select few titles to its list. Today, Prickly Pear still has an active program for publishing in the United Kingdom under Mark Harris and the people at Critique of Anthropology.

Prickly Paradigm is a new incarnation of Prickly Pear, brought to you by some of the people who played a role in the first press. With a distribution network supported by the University of Chicago Press, Prickly Paradigm is committed to the unconventional, in anthropology, critical theory, philosophy, politics, and more.