Saturday, January 12, 2008

Review: Nigel Barley's 'The Innocent Anthropologist'

my review from

"If you've ever suffered through an anthropology course, you know that "suffering" is the proper word. Anthropology should be totally, completely fascinating -- it's the study of human cultures, for heaven's sake -- but it's often a dry-as-dust class for college students.

This book is not dry. In fact, it's probably the only anthropology book that can bring the reader to tears of laughter.

Which is not to say that the book is a comedy. It's not. The book is a sympathetic and interesting take on the writer's study of the Dowayo people. But the Dowayo people -- like any other ethnic group or people -- have quirks that the people themselves cannot see. Nigel Barley lives among the Dowayo and documents their lives, tells how he does anthropology, and manages to do so in a way that makes the book one I sometimes pick up, open at random, and enjoy."

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