Cultural anthropology

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Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone)
 
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In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
One of the most widely used ethnographies published in the last twenty
years, this Margaret Mead Award winner has been used as required reading
at more than 600 colleges and universities. This personal account by a
biocultural anthropologist illuminates not-soon-forgotten messages
involving the sobering aspects of fieldwork among malnourished children
in West Africa. With nutritional anthropology at its core, Dancing
Skeletons presents informal, engaging, and oftentimes dramatic stories
that relate the author’s experiences conducting research on infant
feeding and health in Mali. Through fascinating vignettes and honest,
vivid descriptions, Dettwyler explores such diverse topics as
ethnocentrism, culture shock, population control, breastfeeding, child
care, the meaning of disability and child death in different cultures,
female circumcision, women’s roles in patrilineal societies, the dangers
of fieldwork, and facing emotionally draining realities. Readers will
laugh and cry as they meet the author’s friends and informants, follow
her through a series of encounters with both peri-urban and rural
Bambara culture, and struggle with her as she attempts to reconcile her
very different roles as objective ethnographer, subjective friend, and
mother in the field. The 20th Anniversary Edition includes a 13-page
“Q&A with the Author” in which Dettwyler responds to typical
questions she has received individually from students who have been
assigned Dancing Skeletons as well as audience questions at lectures on
various campuses. The new 23-page “Update on Mali, 2013” chapter is a
factual update about economic and health conditions in Mali as well as a
brief summary of the recent political unrest.
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