CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY: A CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVE, Third Edition is a sophisticated synthesis of social and cultural anthropology. Keesing was concerned with the political and ethical implications of anthropological fieldwork and was sensitive to the global conditions of inequality caused by the spread of capitalist relations of production. Thus, his book is more "political" than other introductory texts in the field. Keesing was also committed to the belief that students should not merely memorize terms and theories, but should also be challenged to ponder the deep questions raised by human diversity.
Roger Keesing's untimely death in 1992 necessitated that a co-author execute his planned revision. Dr. Andrew Strathern was chosen because, like Keesing, his training is in the British social anthropological tradition, his fieldwork has concentrated on the Pacific, and his recent teaching experience has acquainted him with American cultural anthropology. In this revision, Dr. Strathern preserved Keesing's vision, arguments, and the ethnographies presented as illustrations of Keesing's theories, while also examining each sentence to determine whether its assertions needed to be updated, modified, or abandoned. Small changes made in this way incorporated a larger aim of updating and recasting the book to better fit and reflect a world 20 years since publication of the first edition.