Archive for the ‘Ethnic Studies’ Category

Masks: Faces of Culture

May 30, 2007

From the book’s foreword:

It is rare and exciting for a major art exhibition to be organized around so universal and appealing as masks. In an age when large retrospectives and carefully culled thematic presentations are abundant, we take great pride in presenting Masks: Faces of Culture. The individual masks selected for exhibition, and the themes of human existence they relate to, are as accessible to the youngest visitor as they are to the most sophisticated museum-goer.

That said, it is important to note that the driving forces behind this exhibition have been concerned not only with the expression–indeed facial expressions–of basic human themes, but also with a quality of visual aesthetics that exemplifies the highest culture of individual societies. The masks represented in these pages reveal some of the best craftmanship, artistry, creativity, and design that we could expect in any art form.

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Let Them Eat Precaution: How Politics is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture

April 26, 2007

How Politics is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture

From the book jacket:

The genetic revolution has offered more promise than substance, except in agriculture, where it has brought profound benefits to farmers and consumers for more than a decade. More nutritious food is now produced with less environmental costs because genetically modified crops require almost no pesticides. Vitamin-enhanced crops and foods are helping to reduce malnutrition in parts of the developing world, and a wave of biopharmaceuticals is being developed. Yet, for all its achievements and promise, agricultural biotechnology is under intense fire from and fanning fear of a “corporate takeover” of agriculture by biotech firms. Mired in a rancorous trade and cultural war between Europe and the United States and inflamed by a politicized media, this technology remains dramatically underutilized, with particularly tragic consequences for millions of starving people in Africa and other poverty-stricken regions.

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Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power

April 25, 2007

From the book jacket:
Chicken–both the bird and the food–has played multiple roles in the lives of African American women from the slavery era to the present. It has provided food and a source of income for their families, shaped a distinctive culture, and helped women define and exert themselves in racist and hostile environments. Psyche A. Williams-Forson examines the complexity of black women’s legacies using food as a form of cultural work. While acknowledging the negative interpretations of black culture associated with chicken imagery, Williams-Forson focuses her analysis on the ways black women have forged their own self-definitions and relationships to the “gospel bird.”Exploring material ranging from personal interviews to the comedy of Chris Rock, from commercial advertisements to the art of Kara Walker, and from cookbooks to literature, Williams-Forson considers how black women arrive at degrees of self-definition and self-reliance using certain foods. She demonstrates how they defy conventional representations of blackness in relationship to these foods and exercise influence through food preparation and distribution.

Understanding these phenomena clarifies how present interpretations of blacks and chicken are rooted in a past that is fraught with both racism and agency. The traditions and practices of feminism, Williams-Forson argues, are inherent in the foods women prepare and serve.

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Ethnomathematics: A Multicultural View of Mathematical Ideas

April 24, 2007

A ‘snippet’ from the book’s introduction:

Let us take a step toward a global, multicultural view of mathematics. To do this, we will introduce the idea of mathematical ideas of people who have generally been excluded from discussions of mathematics. The people are those who live in traditional or small-scale cultures; that is, they are, by and large, the indigenous people of the places that were “discovered” by Europeans.

The study of the mathematical ideas of traditional peoples is part of a new endeavor called ethnomathematics. Mathematicians and others are usually skeptical of newly coined fields, wondering if they have any substance. To answer this justifiable concern, we begin with quite specific mathematical ideas as they are expressed and embedded in some traditional cultures. Some of the peoples whose ideas are included are the Inuit, Navajo, and Iroquois of North America; the Incas of South America; the Malekula Warlpiri, Maori, and Caroline Islanders of Oceania; and the Tshokwe, Bushoong, and Kpelle of Africa. Only afterward will you find a discussion of the scope and implications of ethnomathematics and how it relates to other areas of inquiry.

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The Souls of Black Folk

April 9, 2007

Book Description
Published in 1903, W E. B. Du Bois’s revolutionary collection of essays changed our perception of the African American experience. The text of this Norton Critical Edition is that of the first hook edition, which has been annotated. “Contexts” reprints an intriguing collection of political and biographical documents related to The Souls of Black Folk, sure to stimulate classroom discussion. In addition, the editors have included the eighteen thought-provoking photographs that accompanied Du Bois’s 1901 article “The Negro As He Really Is.” “Criticism” includes wide-ranging contemporary and recent assessments of The Souls of Black Folk by William James, John Spencer Bassett, John Daniels, Dickson P. Bruce, Jr., Robert Gooding-Williams, David Levering Lewis, Nellie McKay, Susan Mizruchi, Arnold Rampersad, Eric Sundquist, and Shamoon Zamir. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

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Facing the Mirror: Older Women and Beauty Shop Culture

April 3, 2007

Book Description

This innovative, ethnographic study of a neighborhood beauty salon investigates how customers constitute a lively, affirming community of peers during their weekly visits. Beauty Shop Culture gives voice to older women, who, in a sexist and ageist society, are frequently devalued and rendered invisible. These older, mostly Jewish women articulate their experiences of bodily self-presentation, femininity, aging and caring pertaining to their lives within and outside Julie’s International Salon. This books explores the socio-moral significance of these experiences which reveals as much about society as about older women themselves. Women’s narratives expose structures of power, inequality, and resistance in the ways women perceive reality, make choices and live in their worlds.

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Darkness in El Dorado

April 2, 2007

From the book jacket:

Hidden in the impenetrable jungles and highlands of Venezula and Brazil, the Yanomami were first encountered in the 1960s by anthropologists who described them as the most savage and warlike of any tribe alive. Their brutal wars and sexual competition spawned countless films and books, including a million-copy bestseller, Napoleon Chagnon’s The Fierce People. Now, in a landmark account based on a decade of research, Patrick Tierney reveals the grim consequences of ambition and exploitation.

Drawing on new evidence that confronts the anthropological and scientific establishment, Darkness in El Dorado has set off a furious debate in the academic world, prompted an investigation into its charges, and changed forever the discipline of anthropology.

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Coping with Poverty

March 30, 2007

From the book jacket:

Conservatives often condemn the poor, particularly African-Americans, for having children out of wedlock, joblessness, dropping out of school, or tolerating crime. Liberals counter that, with more economic opportunity, the poor differ little from the nonpoor in these areas. In answer to both, Coping with Poverty points to the survival strategies of the poor and their multiple roles as parents, neighbors, relatives, and workers. Their attempts to balance multiple obligations occur within a context of limited information, social support, and resources. Their decisions may not always be the wisest, but they “make sense” in context.

Contributors use qualitative research methods to explore the influence of community, workplace, and family upon strategies for dealing with poverty. Promising young scholars delve into poor black inner-city neighborhoods and suburbs and middle-income black urban communities, exploring experiences at all stages of life, including high-school students, young parents, employed older men, and unemployed mothers. Two chapters discuss the role of qualitative research in poverty studies, specifically examining how this research can be used to improve policymaking.

The volume’s contribution is in the diversity of experiences it highlights and in how the general themes it illustrates are similar across different age/gender groups. The book also suggests an approach to policymaking that seeks to incorporate the experiences and the needs of the poor themselves, in the hope of creating more successful and more relevant poverty policy. It is especially useful for undergraduate and graduate courses in sociology, public policy, urban studies, and African-American Studies, as its scope makes it the basic reader of qualitative studies of poverty. Sheldon Danziger is Director of the Poverty Research and Tranining Center and Professor of Social Work and Public Policy, University of Michigan. Ann Chih Lin is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Michigan.

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Arc of Justice : A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

March 27, 2007

From the book jacket:

In 1925, Detroit was a smoky swirl of jazz and speakeasies, assembly lines and fistfights. The advent of automobiles had brought workers from around the globe to compete for manufacturing jobs, and tensions often flared with the KKK in ascendance and violence rising. Ossian Sweet, a proud Negro doctor-grandson of a slave-had made the long climb from the ghetto to a home of his own in a previously all-white neighborhood. Yet just after his arrival, a mob gathered outside his house suddenly, shots rang out: Sweet, or one of his defenders, had accidentally killed one of the whites threatening their lives and homes.

And so it began-a chain of events that brought America’s greatest attorney, Clarence Darrow, into the fray and transformed Sweet into a controversial symbol of equality. Historian Kevin Boyle weaves the police investigation and courtroom drama of Sweet’s murder trial into an unforgettable tapestry of narrative history that documents the volatile America of the 1920s and movingly re-creates the Sweet family’s journey from slavery through the Great Migration to the middle class. Ossian Sweet’s story, so richly and poignantly captured here, is an epic tale of one man trapped by the battles of his era’s changing times.

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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers

March 26, 2007

From the book jacket:
Hunting and gathering is humanity’s first and most successful adaptation, occupying fully 90 per cent of human history. Until 12,000 years ago all humanity lived this way. Surprisingly, in an increasingly urbanized and technological world dozens of hunting and gathering societies have persisted and thrive on five continents. Case studies of over fifty of the world’s hunting and gathering peoples, written by leading experts, tell a story of resilience in the face of change, of ancient ways now combined with the trappings of modernity. Divided into seven world regions, each section includes a regional introduction and an archaeological overview. Thematic essays discuss prehistory, social life, gender, music and art, health, religion and indigenous knowledge. The final section surveys the complex histories of hunter-gatherers’ encounters with colonialism and the State, and their ongoing struggles for dignity and human rights as part of the worldwide movement of indigenous peoples.

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