The Vulnerable Observer
Eloquently interweaving ethnography and memoir, award-winning anthropologist Ruth Behar offers a new theory and practice for humanistic anthropology. She proposes an anthropology that is lived and written in a personal voice. She does so in the hope that it will lead us toward greater depth of understanding and feeling, not…
Why read it?
2 authors picked The Vulnerable Observer as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
The Vulnerable Observer is a classic work in anthropology in which the author underscores the emotional impact of being a research anthropologist.
Behar’s wonderfully crafted stories evoke the wisdom of others and demonstrate why it is important for anthropologists to describe the emotional impact of social being in the world. It is an important text for understanding the emotional contours of the human condition.
Ruth Behar is an academic, but this deeply personal book is nothing like your typical academic treatise. It’s part memoir, part essay collection, part manifesto for a more ethical – and more honest – way of recording the world and your own interactions with it. What Behar calls for is the “vulnerable observation” of the title: a recognition of the way your own personal and cultural baggage colours your way of seeing, and of the way that you, the writer, are always part of the story. What this leads to is the realisation that objectivity is not just unattainable, but…
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