Danc­ing Skele­tons: Life and Death in West Africa

Down to Earth - - REVIEW - By Kather­ine A Det­twyler Wave­land Press, Inc./ $21.95

THIS PER­SONAL ac­count by a bio­cul­tural an­thro­pol­o­gist brings in dra­matic sto­ries from West Africa in­volv­ing sober­ing as­pects of field­work among mal­nour­ished chil­dren. With nu­tri­tional anthropology at its core, Danc­ing Skele­tons presents en­gag­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that the au­thor had while re­search­ing on in­fant feed­ing and health in Mali. Det­twyler ex­plores eth­no­cen­trism, cul­ture shock, pop­u­la­tion con­trol, fe­male cir­cum­ci­sion, breast­feed­ing, child care and women's roles in pa­tri­lin­eal so­ci­eties. Read­ers will both laugh and cry as she strug­gles to rec­on­cile her role as an ob­jec­tive ethno­g­ra­pher, sub­jec­tive friend and mother in the field.

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