Anthropology off the Shelf. Anthropologists on Writing

  • ID: 2245962
  • Book
  • 230 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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InAnthropology off the Shelf, leading anthropologists reflect on the craft of writing and the passions that fuel their desire to write books. At the core is a critical analysis of the ways in which anthropologists routinely frame, illustrate and contextualize new ideas about culture, and whether their methods facilitate or hinder engagement with the well–informed general reader. The eighteen contributors reveal their inspirations, their concerns about the writing process, their narrative strategies and their imagined audiences, as well as their habits and how they motivate people to read what they write. Each author reflects on the successes and failures of their strategic choices in writing and communicating anthropological subjects in the public sphere.

The reader will find rich but rarely tapped insights into the essential components and commitments of writing public anthropology, and how these writers steer through the difficult issues of racism, sexism, real and imagined critics, and ethical quandaries.

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Notes on Contributors.

Foreword (Cheryl Mwaria).

1. Introduction: The Writer in the Anthropologist (Maria D. Vesperi and Alisse Waterston).

Part I: Conceptions.

2. Speaking Truth to Power with Books (Howard Zinn).

3. Remember When Writing Was Fun? Why Academics Should Go On a Low Syllable, Active Voice Diet (Karen Brodkin).

4. The Bard (Carolyn Nordstrom).

5. Saggin′ and Braggin′ (Lee D. Baker).

6. Stories for Readers: A Few Observations from Outside the Academy (Andrew Barnes).

Part II: Creations.

7. Writing Poverty, Drawing Readers: Stories in Love, Sorrow and Rage (Alisse Waterston).

8. Write‑ous Indignation: Black Girls, Dilemmas of Cultural Domination and the Struggle to Speak the Skin We Are In (Signithia Fordham).

9. Writing Truth to Power: Racism as Statecraft (Arthur K. Spears).

10. Remembering Octavia (Sharon Ball).

11. Believing in Anthropology as Literature (Ruth Behar).

Part III: Receptions.

12. Walking in Zora′s Shoes or "Seek[ing] Out de Inside Meanin′ of Words": The Intersections of Anthropology, Ethnography, Identity, and Writing (Irma McClaurin).

13. Off the Shelf and Into Oblivion? (Catherine Kingfisher).

14. "Don′t Use Your Data as a Pillow" (S. Eben Kirksey).

15. The Trope of the Pith Helmet: America′s Anthropology, Anthropology′s America (Micaela di Leonardo).

16. The Book that Wrote Me (Roger Sanjek).

17. Fighting Words (Paul Farmer).

18. Taking Chances (Maria D. Vesperi).


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“The essays are both provocative and provoking, compelling and edgy. Whether this thrust in anthropology or in academia in general will continue, books like this are required to keep the intellectual energy within the academy vital and engaged. Indispensible reading across disciplines. Summing Up: Essential.” (CHOICE, October 2009)

"This wonderful collection of essays explores an essential question:  how do we tell an untold story? The answers will inspire any anthropologist–writer with the nerve to take a shot."
–David Kushner, author of Levittown and Masters of Doom

"This book should be on many of our must read lists! Its provocative contents should inspire anthropologists and other social scientists to think more courageously about what it can mean—both for us and our potentially expanded and diversified audiences—if more of us “come out” asserting identities as writers. This collection makes a compelling argument that anthropological writing needn′t be confined to conventional "academese," which seriously limits our public reach and social impact."
–Faye V. Harrison, Professor of Anthropology and Director of African American Studies, University of Florida, Author of Outsider Within: Reworking Anthropology in the Global Age

"Turning research into stories that matter to all of us is an art scholars too rarely aspire to, let alone master. The anthropologists in this collection tell the tale of that challenge with inspiring passion, showing in the telling what gifted writers they have become."
–Trevor Brown, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University Bloomington

"It′s inspiring to see behind the curtain of anthropologists, some of the world′s most influential storytellers, read of their insecurities, passion, and a sense of mission one essayist says is the human responsibility "to creatively offer something to the world.""
–Keith Woods, Dean, The Poynter Institute

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