Book Review Essay Sample For Dancing Skeletons Image

Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa3.78 · Rating details ·  946 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews

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 feedThis 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....more

Paperback, 172 pages

Published January 1st 1994 by Waveland Press (first published July 1993)

"The chapters contain moving stories and precious vignettes on the relationships established between the anthropologist, her assistants, and Malian households. They recount frustrations, arguments, humorous conversations, and offer penetrating accounts of local views on death, disease, well-being, and social proprieties. In summary, the book has two main advantages. First, it engages the reader because it is well written. Second, it offers a broad scope for discussion of academic and practical issues." --Journal of Biosocial Sciences

"The ongoing critique of ethnography has, happily, changed the genre, and today real people walk the pages of the best ethnographies. Dettwyler's Dancing Skeletonsis surely one of the best. The text emerges as an extended meditation on applied fieldwork as a gradual melding of people and meaning. No student will leave this ethnography without both objective data and better subjective awareness of the 'is-ness' of suffering. None will go away gushing over the romance of fieldwork; yet, many will be attracted to the humanity of the applied research process." --American Journal of Human Biology

"... a gem of a book on anthropological fieldwork.... This is a very personal journey that Dettwyler tells us about. Almost every page shows her interacting with her subjects, primarily interviewing mothers about infant feeding and child health, measuring children's growth, and gaining entrance to rural village society. The author never launches into abstract theories or generalizations, but lets the informants speak for themselves." --Academic Library Book Review

"The ongoing critique of ethnography has, happily, changed the genre, and today real people walk the pages of the best ethnographies. Dettwyler's Dancing Skeletonsis surely one of the best. The text emerges as an extended meditation on applied fieldwork as a gradual melding of people and meaning. No student will leave this ethnography without both objective data and better subjective awareness of the 'is-ness' of suffering. None will go away gushing over the romance of fieldwork; yet, many will be attracted to the humanity of the applied research process." --American Journal of Human Biology

"... a gem of a book on anthropological fieldwork.... This is a very personal journey that Dettwyler tells us about. Almost every page shows her interacting with her subjects, primarily interviewing mothers about infant feeding and child health, measuring children's growth, and gaining entrance to rural village society. The author never launches into abstract theories or generalizations, but lets the informants speak for themselves." --Academic Library Book Review

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