The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology that Breaks Your Heart

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Beacon Press, 1996 - Social Science - 195 pages
In classical anthropology, subjects of study are seen as vulnerable while their observers are instructed to remain detached and objective. Yet with the emergence during the last decade of a group of anthropologists with recognizable connections to the cultures in which they work, the lines between participant and observer, insider and outsider are no longer so easily drawn. In The Vulnerable Observer, the award-winning anthropologist Ruth Behar offers a new theory and practice for this humanistic anthropology. No longer looking over others' shoulders, she becomes one of the subjects of study as she reflects upon the observer as well as the observed. Eloquently interweaving ethnography and memoir, Ruth Behar reflects on fieldwork in Spain, Cuba, and the United States through her personal stories of loss as a young Cuban Jewish immigrant. Beginning with a poignant essay exploring the refuge she found in her fieldwork as her grandfather died, she proposes an anthropology that is lived and written in a personal voice in the hope that it will lead us toward greater depth of understanding and feeling for those about whom we write.

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User Review  - JypsyJBook - LibraryThing

I only got a chance to read a couple of the essays in this book before I had to return it to the library, but I loved the overall premise. Behar's first-person anthropological essays are perfect for ... Read full review

THE VULNERABLE OBSERVER: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart

User Review  - Kirkus

These readable, insightful essays are linked by the tension between the traditional academic view of anthropology as objective science and accomplished anthropologist Behar's (Univ. of Michigan ... Read full review


The Vulnerable Observer
Death and Memory From Santa Maria del Monte to Miami Beach
My Mexican Friend Marta Who Lives across the Border from Me in Detroit
The Girl in the Cast
Going to Cuba Writing Ethnography of Diaspora Return and Despair
Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart

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About the author (1996)

Ruth Behar-ethnographer, essayist, editor, and poet-is professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She gained national prominence with her book Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's Story. Her honors include a MacArthur Fellows Award and a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship.

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