This article addresses how theory has shaped the author's choice of research topic and analysis as she takes her readers on a journey to Ghana, Kenya, North America, and Saint Lucia. Coming from the position of a reformed materialist feminist moving toward cultural materialism, the author examines how theory helped her empirical work or contributed to problems; she determines whether theory has helped her to see what scholars otherwise have ignored, or caused her to overlook aspects of the data that still need analysis. This relationship provides a pragmatism and flexibility useful for making historical analysis reflect its grass roots in the data. Thus, the author uses the term "materialist" in two senses, both in the tradition of (in her case, revisionist) Marxist economic analysis and in the sense of a close connection to the data, the "materials." The author's odyssey through many geographical and theoretical locations forced by the data has led to her attempt to syncretize approaches in developing the concept of cultural materialism. Cultural materialism involves imbricating culture with economy in ways that illuminate both.


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pp. 167-180
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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