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Contrary to the negative assessments of the social order that have become prevalent in the media since 9/11, this wide-ranging collection of essays, mostly by social anthropologists, focuses instead on the enormous social creativity being invested as collective identities are reconfigured. Using fieldwork findings drawn from Africa, Asia, and Europe, special emphasis is placed on the reformulation of ethnic and gender relationships and identities in the cultural, social, political, and religious realms of public life. Under what circumstances does trust arise, paving the way for friendship, collegiality, knowledge creation, national unity, or emergence of leadership? How is social life constructed as a collective endeavor? Does the means towards sociability become its end? And what can be said about the agency and collegiality of women? The inspiration for examining these conundrums is the work and persona of Shirley Ardener, to whom the volume is dedicated.