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Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman Paperback – September 22, 2000
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[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)
--George Marcus, Professor of Anthropology, Rice University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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. :)
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had to read this for class - turned out to be one of the most interesting books I've read.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer