Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dancing Skeletons Review

In Dancing Skeletons, Katherine A. Dettwyler presents her own interesting perspectives on her anthropological studies. Her story is told in a stream-of-consciousness format, with a single narrative often expanding or side-tracking into other anecdotes, or flashbacks to earlier events. Along the way, the reader is treated to insights into the life of the people of Mali, through Dettwyler’s eyes as she gathers data for her research. Her insights into Mali life are often entertaining as well as informative.
My favorite portions would have to be Dettwyler’s jokes. Specifically, I enjoy her analysis of Mali humor. Her ability to surprise the native speakers around her with her fluency always brought a smile to my face. Her descriptions of looks of astonishment from the people around her as she would launch into the local language were particularly entertaining to me, as I’ve seen that look before when in another country. I loved, in particular, the concept of familiar insulting. The local tradition of insulting close relatives is one that rang true with me, but I loved the tradition of traded insults between two particular families and the common insults shared between them.

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