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Comment: Shared Knowledge is a not for profit public charity! Check us out on facebook. We provide funding for educational programs in Richmond, Virginia. PLEASE READ FULL DESCRIPTION -USED GOOD- This book has been read and may show wear to the cover and or pages. There may be some dog-eared pages. In some cases the internal pages may contain highlighting/margin notes/underlining or any combination of these markings. The binding will be secure in all cases. This is a good reading and studying copy and has been verified that all pages are legible and intact. If the book contained a CD it is not guaranteed to still be included. Your purchase directly supports our scholarship program as well as our partner charities. All items are packed and shipped from the Amazon warehouse. Thanks so much for your purchase!
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Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (September 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674004329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674004320
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

When I reread Nisa, as I have done regularly in teaching over the years, I experience its originality, poignancy, and excitement afresh each time. Few books that were so influential in changing the look and feel of ethnography for entire generations of anthropologists have held up so well. It is a classic, with currency and continuing possibility. (George Marcus, Professor of Anthropology, Rice University)

[A] scrupulous, sad, exciting book. (New York Times)

We have a remarkable anthropologist to thank for an absorbing account. (New York Review of Books)

Both Nisa and Shostak are unusual people, and their collaboration has resulted in an unparalleled account of !Kung life from a personal rather than social or ecological perspective. Even more important, their work results in a revelation of the universality of women's experiences and feelings despite vast differences in culture and society. Nisa helps us know what it means to be !Kung, to be a woman, and finally, to be human. (Choice)

Nisa is a humbling and inspiring book. (Tim Jeal Wall Street Journal 2012-09-08)

Review

When I reread Nisa, as I have done regularly in teaching over the years, I experience its originality, poignancy, and excitement afresh each time. Few books that were so influential in changing the look and feel of ethnography for entire generations of anthropologists have held up so well. It is a classic, with currency and continuing possibility.
--George Marcus, Professor of Anthropology, Rice University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 34 customer reviews
It was a very interesting book.
Kimm Lemond
The majority of the book is told through Nisa's words which are translated into English with as much accuracy possible by Shostak.
Ben Anders
The reader can still learn a great deal about the life of the !Kung and maybe something about the way our ancestors lived.
Svetoslav Tassev

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Ben Anders on January 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
Majorie Shostak's account of her anthropology trip to Africa's Kalahari Desert examining the rituals, lifestyles and existence of the !Kung tribe is not to be read like an expanded version of a National Geographic article. It is written with academic rigor and precise examination of a !Kung woman Nisa. The majority of the book is told through Nisa's words which are translated into English with as much accuracy possible by Shostak. Shostak prefaces each chapter with a more general description of the events of Nisa's life which follow. The !Kung have such a different life style than Westerners, so naturally the story telling methods Nisa uses are a little unfamiliar. There is much more repetition of certain phrases and ideas that some of us might find excessive. If one can get past this they will soon see what an expert Nisa actually is. Also it is a tribute to Shostak that she didn't slice up the narrative to make it more accessible for Westerners.

The book in begun with an extensive introduction, about 40 pages. Although at first this might feel over detailed and cumbersome, it is a necessity to read it before jumping into Nisa's narrative because some of the actions taken might seem unfathomable without a better understanding of !Kung life. For instance, when Nisa describes stealing and hoarding food for herself as a child, we might feel she is extremely selfish. But after reading the introduction we understand that in !Kung life there is virtually no private property. Imagine being a young child and having nothing of "your own." I think we all would have stolen to some extent. Also during the time the book was written there was a struggle within the anthropology communities as to whether these "field work" expeditions we're even worth taking.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By R. Byrd on December 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
You don't have to be an anthropology student to find this book approachable. With Nisa's straight-forward monologues about her life, you could probably finish this book in a day, curled up on a blanket under a tree. That's how I plan to read the sequel.
This book is full of gossip and stories, basically bridging gaps between that of Nisa's world and my own. She's an outsider's insider: just weird enough to be out on the fringes of the !Kung and thus accessible to Shostak. But that becomes a problem later on the book -- Nisa's peers have warned the author that Nisa lies, but it's not until Nisa tells a rather impressive story about herself that Shostak begins to dismiss her as unreliable.
Which makes me think that the only reason Shostak published the book is that she'd spent too much time on Nisa not to. And that's why I'm not giving Shostak's work a full five stars -- I liked Nisa a heck of a lot more than I liked Shostak based on this work.
Is Nisa a liar? Or is the problem that she tells truths that others don't want to face? Whatever your opinion, I think you'll find this book a good read whether or not you have an anthropological background. I still have a copy. :)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
The author's method of giving an anthropologist's perspective on a particular topic followed by Nisa's stories relating to the same topic was a wonderful balance of the scientific and the personal. I enjoyed this book immensely and it made me think deeply of how different are culture is from our roots as hunter-gatherers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Vincent D. Pisano on March 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Marjorie Shostak offers readers an interesting and insightful account of her relationship with a member of the !Kung San people of the Kalahari Desert during the early 1970s, a woman known by the pseudonym "Nisa," in her seminal work Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. The book is a coupling of both Shostak's ethnographic insight and Nisa's life history told in her own words, along with some very interesting photos taken by the author. Shostak admittedly runs into barriers that she must cross, particularly as to whether or not she can trust Nisa, who the rest of the tribe regards as a liar, but really, much can be seen in the lies that people choose to tell as well as the truths. Either way, Nisa's stories are compelling and give the reader a great window into their hunter-gatherer society and the dynamics that make it work. It reveals techniques of tribal socialization and ethic reasoning, the importance of intimacy, as well as offering a model (however debatable it may be) for the ways in which the status of women is compromised by changing demographics.

Nisa's life history account reveals many instances in which can be seen a socialization process that is meant to turn her into a more productive and adaptive person in society. These instances can especially be seen in Nisa's childhood. The !Kung place a high value on sharing in their culture, and Nisa's early tendencies to selfishly covet and hoard food for herself was counterproductive to this ideal. Nisa's mother dealt with her daughter's stealing firmly, often hitting her and screaming such things like, "Nisa, stop stealing! Are you the only one who wants to eat klaru? Now, let me take what's left and cook them for all of us to eat. Did you really think you were the only one who was going to eat them all?
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