Sunday, June 19, 2011

About A Singular Woman

For Father's Day, I treated myself (ha ha) to a copy of Janny Scott's A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother.

It might tell you a bit about the frame of mind I am in, as I am rewriting sections of my own book manuscript, but it strikes me (yet again) that a book as well done as this requires not just the talent and skill of the author, but the conditions (i.e., having time and means, thus liberty) to do the job right!

I am about a third of the way into the book, but I peeked ahead at the upcoming chapters b/c I confess that I am curious about S. Ann Dunham as an anthropologist. She died so young, but for most of her adult life, Dunham worked and lived as an anthropologist. I think Scott might have set out to describe who Dunham was, or at least might have been, to have us understand who Obama is, or might be, but it turns out that Dunham's work and life (in development) was significant in its own right. So, that it seems unfair to think about her only as a mother.

Among the "lessons" that I keep repeating in the courses that I teach, I like to tell students that a difference between other disciplines and anthropology is that in other disciplines, you expect to find the answer is this or that, but in anthropology, you start from having to understand the answer is this and that.

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