Conceived partly in homage to the diversity of This Bridge Called Our Backs
and partly in umbrage at the mostly male musings on anthropology in Writing Culture
, this rewarding collection redefines anthropology through feminist and multicultural eyes. At its heart is the "poetics and politics" of ethnography, an uneasy marriage of art and science that attempts to distill the essence of another person's culture.
Editor Ruth Behar, who wrote in depth about her comadre Esmeralda (and more fleetingly of her own father's rage) in Translated Woman, contributes a wrenching piece on the betrayal implicit in marking down another person's life. "Foolish, foolish is the anthropologist who mixes up the field with her life," she mourns. Other essays consider such issues as how gender and racism play out in anthropology, how women in the field undermine themselves, and what women bring to the odd dance between narrator and observer. In a light essay that contrasts cultures, Lila Abu-Lighod, who researched the lives of Bedouin women, speaks of their pity for her childless state. While they assume she is "searching for children" unsuccessfully, she assumes their infertility remedies are wondrous fodder for field notes. --Francesca Coltrera
From the Inside Flap
"A rich collection that I will use in teaching graduates and undergraduates about the weave of ethnography, narrative, the women's movement, and feminism. Crafted by an impressive range of scholars, the essays are empirically rich and theoretically cogent. But most important, they engage the complexities of multicultural, feminist, and multinational ethnographies and the stories that matter to politics, scholarship, and lives. With an ear for the tones of race and gender, this book answers the political, generic, and theoretical challenge of Writing Culture with layered essays that rewrite an important range of cultural conversations."Donna Haraway, author of Professor, History of Consciousness Board, UCSC
"Since the advent of the 'post-modern' in ethnography, we have been much in need of a marvelous volume such as this, placing 'woman' at the center of the debate. Women Writing Culture will prove as stimulating for our time as its great predecessor, Women, Culture and Society was for the 1970s."Jose E. Limon, University of Texas
"A groundbreaking bookprovocative, illuminating, imaginativeand it is a pleasure to read. A trenchant yet always generous feminist critique of the masculinist bias in the theoretical canon of anthropological texts, it expansively and imaginatively maps the future directions of a feminist anthropology. In moving and courageous acts of reconstruction, the writers in this volume boldly cross disciplinary and generic lines, reading fiction as anthropology, writing theater as ethnography, getting personal, radically reconceiving the relationship of self and other and, thereby, the field itself. Feminist scholars of all disciplines will find here enabling textual and conceptual strategies as well as memorable voices and powerful stories."Marianne Hirsch, Dartmouth College, author of The Mother-Daughter Plot