Browse Results For:
A Concise Introduction
There seems to be no end to our fascination with the Amish, a religious minority that has both placed itself outside the mainstream of American culture and flourished within it. Yet most people know very little about the nuanced relationship the Amish have with society or their own communities.
Drawing on more than twenty years of fieldwork and collaborative research, Steven M. Nolt’s The Amish: A Concise Introduction is a compact but richly detailed portrait of Amish life. In fewer than 150 pages, readers will come away with a clear understanding of the complexities of these simple people. Writing in engaging and accessible language, Nolt explains how the Amish at once operate within modern America and stand very much apart from the world. Arguing that Amish life is shaped equally by internal and external social, political, and economic contexts, Nolt explores Amish identity as emerging from a complex cultural negotiation with modernity. He takes on much-hyped topics such as Rumspringa and reveals the distinctive Amish approach to technology. He also explains how Amish principles stand in contrast to contemporary American values, including rational efficiency, large-scale organization, and Western notions of individuality.
Authoritative, informative, and illustrated, this guide provides a vivid introduction to a way of life many find fascinating but few truly understand.
Diversity and Change in the World's Largest Amish Community
Holmes County, Ohio, is home to the largest and most diverse Amish community in the world. Yet, surprisingly, it remains relatively unknown compared to its famous cousin in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell conducted seven years of fieldwork, including interviews with over 200 residents, to understand the dynamism that drives social change and schism within the settlement, where Amish enterprises and nonfarming employment have prospered. The authors contend that the Holmes County Amish are experiencing an unprecedented and complex process of change as their increasing entanglement with the non-Amish market causes them to rethink their religious convictions, family practices, educational choices, occupational shifts, and health care options. The authors challenge the popular image of the Amish as a homogeneous, static, insulated society, showing how the Amish balance tensions between individual needs and community values. They find that self-made millionaires work alongside struggling dairy farmers; successful female entrepreneurs live next door to stay-at-home mothers; and teenagers both embrace and reject the coming-of-age ritual, rumspringa. An Amish Paradox captures the complexity and creativity of the Holmes County Amish, dispelling the image of the Amish as a vestige of a bygone era and showing how they reinterpret tradition as modernity encroaches on their distinct way of life.
In this American Book Award-winning autobiography, Shirley Geok-lin Lim recalls her girlhood as part of a Chinese family in war-torn Malaysia, and her later life in the United States, where she moves from alienation as a dislocated Asian woman to a new sense of identity as an Asian-American woman. Lim's memoir explores colonialism, Chinese/Malaysian relations, and race relations in the US, as well as the intricacies of the academic life.
A Mother, Her Daughter, and their Stories
“Thirty-seven years ago, I vowed to write a truthful book about raising a deaf child.” Rebecca Willman Gernon followed through on her promise with her deaf daughter Amy Willman in this extraordinary new narrative. Many stories have been told about a parent’s struggle to help her deaf child succeed in a mostly hearing world. Amy Signs marks a signature departure in that both Rebecca and Amy relate their perspectives on their journey together. When she learns of 11-month-old Amy’s deafness in 1969, Rebecca fully expresses her anguish, and traces all of the difficulties she endured in trying to find the right educational environment for Amy. The sacrifices of the rest of her family weighed heavily on her, also. When she resolved to place four-year-old Amy in Nebraska’s residential school for deaf students, the emotional toll seemed too much to bear. Amy’s view acts as the perfect counterpoint. Interwoven with her mother’s story, Amy’s account confirms that signing served her best. She summarizes life in boarding school as “laughter and homesickness.” She laughed with all of her deaf friends, though felt homesick at times. Amy thanks her mother for the gift of sign, asserting that a mainstream education would never have led her to earn a master’s degree and later teach ASL at the University of Nebraska. Amy Signs is a positive albeit cautionary tale for parents of deaf children today whose only choice is a mainstreamed education.
From 1868 through 1939, anarchists' migrations from Spain to Argentina and back again created a transnational ideology and influenced the movement's growth in each country. James A. Baer follows the lives, careers, and travels of Diego Abad de Santillán, Manuel Villar, and other migrating anarchists to highlight the ideological and interpersonal relationships that defined a vital era in anarchist history. Drawing on extensive interviews with Abad de Santillán, José Grunfeld, and Jacobo Maguid, along with unusual access to anarchist records and networks, Baer uncovers the ways anarchist migrants in pursuit of jobs and political goals formed a critical nucleus of militants, binding the two countries in an ideological relationship that profoundly affected the history of both. He also considers the impact of reverse migration and discusses political decisions that had a hitherto unknown influence on the course of the Spanish Civil War. Personal in perspective and transnational in scope, Anarchist Immigrants in Spain and Argentina offers an enlightening history of a movement and an era.
Co-Parenting with the Foster Care System
One night after midnight social workers brought a baby girl to the author's home, and her life as a foster mother began. A social worker herself, Gerstenzang discovered that raising Cecilia, deespite all the personal joys, would be a complex and frustrating process of "co-parenting" with the foster care system in New York City. Foster parents are in great demand, but they are not necessarily treated well. We follow the author through the home visits, the Early Intervention evaluation, the WIC program that (with much bureaucratic hassle) provides free formula and cereal, and the mandatory parenting training sessions. She comments, "When Michael and I became foster parents, we learned how stigmatizing, demoralizing, and just plain inconvenient and time-consuming being part of the 'unentitled' population can be. With the exception of Early Intervention, we often felt that the programs were more concerned with regulating our behavior than with providing services."
Regular meetings with the birth family were also part of the process. Not only were they awkward for all concerned, but each visit involved a commute of several hours. One social worker admitted that she preferred a foster parent who didn't work because that person could more easily comply with the time-consuming regulations. Sarah and her husband Michael also agonize over complying with special regulations about hiring babysitters or traveling ("anytime we left New York State we needed to ask the agency's permission, which in turn had to get the signed consent from the birth mother").
Central to Another Mother is the issue of transracial placement. Sarah remembers, "That first day the contrast between my pale skin and Cecilia's brown skin seemed glaring. Not only did I feel that I had someone else's child, I felt that I had a child from another culture. Would I owe someone an explanation?" (Gerstenzang is recalling the 1972 opposition of the National Association of Black Social Workers.) Her account is full of anecdotes and reflections about race: acceptance and prejudice from others; the feelings of her two children about having a sibling of a different race; and culture keeping, beginning with skin and hair care.
Virtual Migration in Indian Call Centers
What happens over time to Indians who spend their working hours answering phone calls from Americans—and acting like Americans themselves? To find out, the authors of Answer the Call conducted long-term interviews with forty-five agents, trainers, managers, and CEOs at call centers in Bangalore and Mumbai from 2003 to 2012. For nine or ten hours every day, workers in call centers are not quite in India or America but rather in a state of “virtual migration.” Encouraged to steep themselves in American culture from afar, over time the agents come to internalize and indeed perform Americanness for Americans—and for each other.
Call center agents “migrate” through time and through the virtual spaces generated by voice and information sharing. Drawing from their rich interviews, the authors show that the virtual migration agents undergo has no geographically distant point of arrival, yet their perception of moving is not merely abstract. Over the duration of the job, agents’ sense of place and time changes: agents migrate but still remain, leaving them somewhere in between—between India and America, experience and imagination, class mobility and consumption, tradition and modernity, here and there, then and now, past and future.
However tangible and elastic their virtual mobility might seem in these relatively lucrative jobs, it is also suspended within the confines of the very boundaries they migrate across. Having engaged with these vivid and often poignant interviews, readers will never again be indifferent to an Indian agent’s greeting at the other end of a toll-free call: “Hello, my name is Roxanne. How may I help you?”
New Perspectives on Work and Its Absence
Anthropologies of Unemployment offers accessible, theoretically innovative, and ethnographically rich examinations of unemployment in rural and urban regions across North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The diversity of case studies demonstrates that unemployment is a pressing global phenomenon that sheds light on the uneven consequences of free-market ideologies and policies. Economic, social, and cultural marginalization is common in the lives of the unemployed, but their experience and interpretation are shaped by local and national cultural particularities. In exploring those differences, the contributors to this volume employ recent theoretical innovations and engage with some of the more salient topics in contemporary anthropology, such as globalization, migration, youth cultures, bureaucracy, class, gender, and race.
Taken together, the chapters reveal that there is something new about unemployment today. It is not a temporary occurrence, but a chronic condition. In adjusting to persistent, longstanding unemployment, people and groups create new understandings of unemployment as well as of work and employment; they improvise new forms of sociality, morality, and personhood. Ethnographic studies such as those found in Anthropologies of Unemployment are crucial if we are to understand the broader forms, meanings, and significance of pervasive economic insecurity and discover the emergence of new social and cultural possibilities.
Josh Fisher, High Point University
David Karjanen, University of Minnesota
Ann E. Kingsolver, University of Kentucky
Jong Bum Kwon, Webster University
Carrie M. Lane, California State University, Fullerton
Caitrin Lynch, Olin College
Daniel Mains, University of Oklahoma
John P. Murphy, Gettysburg College
Mariano D. Perelman, University of Buenos Aires
Frances Abrahamer Rothstein, Montclair State University
Claudia Strauss, Pitzer College