Anthropology off the Shelf: Anthropologists on Writing
March 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
- First of its kind volume in anthropology in which prominent anthropologists and 3 respected professionals outside the discipline follow the tradition of the “writers on writing” genre to reflect on all aspects of the writing process
- Contributors are high-profile in anthropology and many have a strong presence outside the field, in popular culture
- Unique in its format: short essays, revealing and straightforward in content and writing style
Notes on Contributors.
Foreword (Cheryl Mwaria).
1. Introduction: The Writer in the Anthropologist (Maria D. Vesperi and Alisse Waterston).
Part I: Conceptions.
2. Speaking Truth to Power with Books (Howard Zinn).
3. Remember When Writing Was Fun? Why Academics Should Go On a Low Syllable, Active Voice Diet (Karen Brodkin).
4. The Bard (Carolyn Nordstrom)
5. Saggin' and Braggin' (Lee D. Baker).
6. Stories for Readers: A Few Observations from Outside the Academy (Andrew Barnes).
Part II: Creations.
7. Writing Poverty, Drawing Readers: Stories in Love, Sorrow and Rage (Alisse Waterston).
8. Write‑ous Indignation: Black Girls, Dilemmas of Cultural Domination and the Struggle to Speak the Skin We Are In (Signithia Fordham).
9. Writing Truth to Power: Racism as Statecraft (Arthur K. Spears).
10. Remembering Octavia (Sharon Ball).
11. Believing in Anthropology as Literature (Ruth Behar).
Part III: Receptions.
12. Walking in Zora's Shoes or "Seek[ing] Out de Inside Meanin' of Words": The Intersections of Anthropology, Ethnography, Identity, and Writing (Irma McClaurin).
13. Off the Shelf and Into Oblivion? (Catherine Kingfisher).
14. "Don't Use Your Data as a Pillow" (S. Eben Kirksey).
15. The Trope of the Pith Helmet: America's Anthropology, Anthropology's America (Micaela di Leonardo).
16. The Book that Wrote Me (Roger Sanjek).
17. Fighting Words (Paul Farmer).
18. Taking Chances (Maria D. Vesperi).
Maria D. Vesperi is Professor of Anthropology at New College of Florida and a trustee of the Poynter Institute. Author of City of Green Benches: Growing Old in a New Downtown (1986), she is currently completing a book on the relationship between ethnographic narrative and narrative journalism and developing a 150-year social history of a utopian community turned company town.
• Contributors are high-profile in anthropology and many have a strong presence outside the field, in popular culture
• Unique in its format: short essays, revealing and straightforward in content and writing style
“The essays are both provocative and provoking, compelling and edgy. Whether this thrust in anthropology or in academia in general will continue, books like this are required to keep the intellectual energy within the academy vital and engaged. Indispensible reading across disciplines. Summing Up: Essential.” (CHOICE, October 2009) "This wonderful collection of essays explores an essential question: how do we tell an untold story? The answers will inspire any anthropologist-writer with the nerve to take a shot."
–David Kushner, author of Levittown and Masters of Doom
"This book should be on many of our must read lists! Its
provocative contents should inspire anthropologists and other
social scientists to think more courageously about what it can
mean—both for us and our potentially expanded and diversified
audiences—if more of us “come out” asserting
identities as writers. This collection makes a compelling
argument that anthropological writing needn't be confined to
conventional "academese," which seriously limits our public reach
and social impact."
–Faye V. Harrison, Professor of Anthropology and Director of African American Studies, University of Florida, Author of Outsider Within: Reworking Anthropology in the Global Age
"Turning research into stories that matter to all of us is an
art scholars too rarely aspire to, let alone master. The
anthropologists in this collection tell the tale of that
challenge with inspiring passion, showing in the telling what
gifted writers they have become."
–Trevor Brown, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University Bloomington
"It's inspiring to see behind the curtain of anthropologists,
some of the world's most influential storytellers, read of their
insecurities, passion, and a sense of mission one essayist says is
the human responsibility "to creatively offer something to the
–Keith Woods, Dean, The Poynter Institute