In a compelling mix of literary narrative and ethnography, anthropologist Alma Gottlieb and writer Philip Graham continue the long journey of cultural engagement with the Beng people of Cote d'Ivoire that they first recounted in their award-winning memoir Parallel Worlds. Their commitment over the span of several decades has lent them a rare insight. Braiding their own stories with those of the villagers of Asagbe and Kosangbe, Gottlieb and Graham take turns recounting a host of unexpected dramas with these West African villages, prompting serious questions about the fraught nature of cultural contact. Through events such as a religious leader's declaration that the authors' six-year-old son, Nathaniel, is the reincarnation of a revered ancestor, or Graham's late father being accepted into the Beng afterlife, or the increasing, sometimes dangerous madness of a villager, the authors are forced to reconcile their anthropological and literary gaze with the deepest parts of their personal lives. Along with these intimate dramas, they follow the Beng from times of peace through the times of tragedy that led to Cote d'Ivoire's recent civil conflicts.
From these and many other interweaving narratives - and with the combined strengths of an anthropologist and a literary writer - "Braided Worlds" examines the impact of postcolonialism, race, and global inequity at the same time that it chronicles a living, breathing village community where two very different worlds meet.
Alma Gottlieb is professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of The Restless Anthropologist, The Afterlife Is Where We Come From, and Under the Kapok Tree, all published by the University of Chicago Press. Philip Graham is professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and also teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Moon, Come to Earth, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Together they are the authors of Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa.
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- ID: 9780226305288
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