This term my Introduction to Anthropology students are reading The Price of Stones: Building a School for my Village, by T. Jackson Kaguri. (He’s coming to speak in Alma next week, if you want to come to his lectures!). This book resonated with me as a teaching tool for several reasons:
1) I wanted students to learn about a particular culture in close detail
2) I wanted the book to be accessible to freshman students from all majors
3) I wanted them to read something recently published
4) I wanted them to read about a contemporary community
5) I wanted them to read a book about a different culture written BY a member of that community.
6) The Alma College Mission is “to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully, and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations.” I wanted to include a book that gave students a model for how to do work that benefits the community.
The Price of Stones met all of these requirements for me. Right now, each student is taking notes on a different anthropological topic as they read the book (such as food preparation, medicine/health care, marriage practices, etc…). At the end of the month, they will all upload their notes to the course blog, and each student will use the compiled notes to write their own ethnographic essay, with a research question they have selected. It seems to be going well.
But now I need a new book for next term! I love this book, but I am sure there are other great works out there which I don’t know about. Do you have any suggestions? One of the great aspects of this book, for my anthropology class, was that Mr. Kaguri describes his village in vivid detail. This allowed my students to view it as a data set, not just a book about building a school. I am thinking of looking for a book about someone doing some sort of health care project or working on women’s issues, but I’m open to ideas. If you have read a book that you think would work well for my class, please let me know!