in The Power of the Between

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780226775340
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226775364 | DOI:

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  • Social and Cultural Anthropology


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This chapter presents the author's thoughts about memoirs. Writing a memoir is something that many anthropologists may want to pursue at some point in their careers. Memoir is important because as a genre, it can extend substantially the readership for things ethnographic. However, the memoir is also a very tricky enterprise. In far too many cases, the author is so focused on recounting, sometimes in excruciating detail, the intricacies of her or his life that the text can become a tedious exercise in solipsism. Illness narratives are among the most popular memoirs. Many of these works have merit, for they connect the experience of the author to thousands of people in relatively similar circumstances. The greatest strength of these memoirs is their penchant for storytelling. Their great weakness is a paucity of insight.

Keywords: writing; memoirs; anthropologists; illness narratives; storytelling

Chapter.  1881 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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