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DANCING SKELETONS BOOK

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Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa, 20th Anniversary Edition [ Katherine A. Dettwyler] on In summary, the book has two main advantages. First. Editorial Reviews. Review. "The chapters contain moving stories and precious vignettes on the Highlight, take notes, and search in the book; In this edition, page numbers are just like the physical edition; Length: pages; Format: Print . Dancing Skeletons book. Read 76 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. This personal account by a biocultural anthropologist illuminates.


Dancing Skeletons Book

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Jul 24, With nutritional anthropology at its core, Dancing Skeletons presents informal, engaging, and oftentimes dramatic stories from the field that. Katherine Dettwyler is an anthropologist who's been working and conducting research in Mali for decades, focusing on childhood nutrition. Dancing Skeletons: . With nutritional anthropology at its core, Dancing Skeletons presents informal, engaging, and oftentimes dramatic stories that relate the author's experiences.

Her use of both humor and tragedy had the effect of motivating me to finish the book or certainly move on to the next page in order to discover what happened next. Occasionally, however, the expectation wasn't fulfilled. Especially engaging was Dettwyler's use of dialog beginning on the very first page and continuing throughout the work. This had the effect of personalizing Dettwyler's experiences and providing the reader with brief bubbles of real-time activity that placed the reader in Mali as a non-participant observer.

Dettwyler's narratives between dialogs gave necessary information for the reader to understand the contexts of the dialog sections and to get the data she was trying to pass on, but the dialogs themselves brought Dettwyler's personal experiences to life with emotions of joy, amusement, tragedy, and frustration. Dettwyler's very first dialog section involved her evaluation of a severely malnourished child and it set the stage for what appeared to be a major theme of the book: that understanding cultural paradigms in Africa is essential when attempting to address its problems.

This malnourished child and the mother's inability to properly care for him posed the question: why is there a disparity in the diets and care of children versus adults.

As a parent I found it easy to empathize with Dettwyler's perspective in many of her contacts and interactions with children and her concerns for her own child, who accompanied her to Mali.

That Dettwyler chose to bring her daughter, Miranda, to Africa with her struck me initially as somewhat negligent, given the conditions Dettwyler described and the inherent risks that both would face with potential health problems alone. However, it was soon apparent that much of Dettwyler's perspective depended upon her own parenthood and, perhaps, the proximity of Miranda as she conducted her research.

And it was Miranda's brush with death having contracted malaria pp. The very title of the book refers to the children that Dettwyler watched dance in celebration for their village, which met the goals of a CARE project management team pp. The children were physical "skeletons" of malnourishment, dancing for the successes of their village in applying good health and hygiene practices, apparently oblivious to the problems they still faced with proper nutrition pp.

This is where she drives home one of her themes by pointing out that it isn't enough to simply address the medical and hygienic concerns of rural West Africa without actively working to resolve the problem of malnourishment among children. The latter endeavor could provide growing and developing children with the ability to avoid mortality from health problems like malaria and measles if their bodies were healthy and strong enough to fight the infections.

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The tragedy and seriousness of nutrition and health in rural West Africa is made very clear in Dettwyler's narrative and gives the reader insight into the true nature of the problems faced by the people there. Too often, statistics and headlines dominate Western knowledge of the plights of the developing world, but Dettwyler is able to objectify the problems and present them with a perspective that allows her readers to understand some of the associated cultural problems.

For instance, Dettwyler offers an anecdote of a lunch she shares with a Malian coworker who criticizes her insistence that Miranda eat some chicken rather than less nutritious millet as the other Dogo children ate: "In Dogo," he explained, "people believe that good food is wasted on children.

They don't appreciate its good taste or the way it makes you feel. Also, they haven't worked hard to produce the food.

They have their whole lives to work for good food for themselves, when they get older. Old people deserve the best food, because they're going to die soon.

How do you expect children to grow up to be functioning adults if they only get millet or rice to eat? They die from malnutrition, or from diseases such as measles that wouldn't kill a well-nourished child pp. This argument largely appeared to fall on the deaf ears of her Malian hosts, but the reader is able to begin understanding a new perspective to the problem of malnutrition when this anecdote is compared with an earlier one in which Dettwyler tries to convince a Malian woman who has a child with kwashiorkor, a protein deficiency, to provide a appropriate food for her daughter to improve her health.

The woman's response is to ask for medicine in spite of Dettwyler's insistence that food is the cure p.

Dettwyler rightly compares and contrasts Western nutritional expectations to that of developing West Africa, and notes that what is considered to be understood in Western cultures like America, that children need balanced meals, is something that we take for granted and something that needs to be taught in developing nations. Publisher: Waveland Press, Long Grove, IL Year: On average, about 17 children out of under the age of 7 dies in the world each year El-Ghannam because of malnutrition, homicide, wars, drowning, car accidents, what have you -a sobering statistic for any loving parent.

In West Africa, however, that number becomes children out of ! For a parent, this figure isn't just sobering, it's staggering to consider and it's the highest child mortality rate in the world.

Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa

In the West African nation of Mali alone, the risks to children include not only the same risks as the rest of the world: accidents, cancers, homicides, etc. Also in Bamako, in , nearly half of all children were infected with schstosomiasis Clerq et al and in rural Mali, the rate was as over half of the children between years of age in some areas Traore et al Schistosomiasis is a tropical parasite, abundant in Africa, and transmitted to humans after being hosted in larval form by freshwater snails Morgan et al The parasite leaves the snail and enters a human host wading in the water by burrowing into the skin of feet and legs.

Schistosomes affect about million people worldwide and the eggs produced by the worms that grow in the blood vessels of the host are passed to the bladder and intestines and can cause blood in urine and stool CDC Dettwyler is faced with each of these health problems and more as she narrates her experiences in observing their cause and effect.

Most of these experiences are from the perspective of an outside observer; some are of one who has an empathic interest in the people she considers friends; but at least one brings home a parent's worst fear: the fear of losing a child.

ISBN 13: 9781478607588

As an ethnography, Dancing Skeletons was not what I expected. Dettwyler's literary style was refreshing in light of other ethnographies I've had the pleasure or even misfortune to read. Her use of both humor and tragedy had the effect of motivating me to finish the book or certainly move on to the next page in order to discover what happened next.

Occasionally, however, the expectation wasn't fulfilled.

Especially engaging was Dettwyler's use of dialog beginning on the very first page and continuing throughout the work. This had the effect of personalizing Dettwyler's experiences and providing the reader with brief bubbles of real-time activity that placed the reader in Mali as a non-participant observer. Dettwyler's narratives between dialogs gave necessary information for the reader to understand the contexts of the dialog sections and to get the data she was trying to pass on, but the dialogs themselves brought Dettwyler's personal experiences to life with emotions of joy, amusement, tragedy, and frustration.

Dettwyler's very first dialog section involved her evaluation of a severely malnourished child and it set the stage for what appeared to be a major theme of the book: that understanding cultural paradigms in Africa is essential when attempting to address its problems.

This malnourished child and the mother's inability to properly care for him posed the question: why is there a disparity in the diets and care of children versus adults.

As a parent I found it easy to empathize with Dettwyler's perspective in many of her contacts and interactions with children and her concerns for her own child, who accompanied her to Mali. That Dettwyler chose to bring her daughter, Miranda, to Africa with her struck me initially as somewhat negligent, given the conditions Dettwyler described and the inherent risks that both would face with potential health problems alone. However, it was soon apparent that much of Dettwyler's perspective depended upon her own parenthood and, perhaps, the proximity of Miranda as she conducted her research.

And it was Miranda's brush with death having contracted malaria pp. The very title of the book refers to the children that Dettwyler watched dance in celebration for their village, which met the goals of a CARE project management team pp. The children were physical "skeletons" of malnourishment, dancing for the successes of their village in applying good health and hygiene practices, apparently oblivious to the problems they still faced with proper nutrition pp.

This is where she drives home one of her themes by pointing out that it isn't enough to simply address the medical and hygienic concerns of rural West Africa without actively working to resolve the problem of malnourishment among children.

The latter endeavor could provide growing and developing children with the ability to avoid mortality from health problems like malaria and measles if their bodies were healthy and strong enough to fight the infections.Other editions. I really enjoyed the end of the story; she saw so much pain and devastation.

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Mar 21, Meaghan rated it really liked it Shelves: Preview — Dancing Skeletons by Katherine A. In fact, she was constantly falling into her white-American mindset, shedding the formal anthropological robes she should have been wearing. I hadn't researched Africa before reading this book and I couldn't put it down.