The Vulnerable Observer

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The Vulnerable Observer
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1996)
Edith Turner has written about The Vulnerable Observer: “Ruth Behar is famed for her fieldwork writing, and fieldwork writing is after all at the heart of anthropology. . . . As a supporter of the anthropology of experience, I would truly recommend that fieldworkers lend their own experience to the process of enriching and dynamizing the fieldwork material itself. . . . The Vulnerable Observer is an imperfect, vulnerable book; it would be poor-spirited to deal with it piecemeal. . . . Those who read it with sympathy will find unique nourishment, things of surprising value that are needed to feed the new anthropology.” (American Anthropologist, December, 1997.)


Endorsements of The Vulnerable Observer:

“A story that engages the emotions. Making the past visible, she preserves it against oblivion.” – The Washington Post Book World

“As ‘a woman of the border’…. [Behar] infuses her vision with insight, candor and compassion.” The New York Times Book Review

Behar has convinced me that ethnographic empathy will produce an anthropology that has greater meaning than the distanced and detached academic anthropology of the past.” – The Boston Globe

“Behar’s collection of essays assesses the impact of emotion and experience on the process of research and writing, and on the relationship between the observer and the observed…. Intensely moving.” – Choice

“[Her] insistent looking back is what makes Ruth Behar’s vision of anthropology so compelling. Memories do not vanish; they recede and leave traces. The anthropologist who makes herself vulnerable to these indications makes the world a more intelligible and hopeful place.” The Jerusalem Report

Reviews of The Vulnerable Observer:

9/11/96, Publishers Weekly
11/21/96, “Observer author knows of Cuba, diaspora,Miami Herald, by Elinor J. Brecher
1/1/97, Booklist
1/5/97, Boston Sunday Globe
1/6/97, Choice
1/97, Library Journal
1/27/97, “Anthropologist writes from the heart,” by Anne Valentine Martino, Ann Arbor News, Connection, B1-B2
1/28/97, University Record, University of Michigan
1/31/97, Chronicle of Higher Education, Nota Bene: A16
2/24/97, “Anthropologist finds own soul,” by Karl Leif Bates, Detroit News, Discovery, E1
3/21/97, “U-Michigan’s Award-winning Scholar Publishes New Book, Hispanic Outlook
3/23/97, New York Times Book Review, by Diane Cole
4/8/97, “U-M scientist adds a personal touch to her work,” Lansing State Journal, Today, 1D-3D, by Shelia Schimpf
4/11/97, “Ruth Behar on Exploring Identity,” Baltimore Jewish Times, vol. 234, no. 6.
5/1/97, “Letting It Get To You: Cuban-born anthropologist Ruth Behar lives and works in a diaspora within a diaspora,” by Judith Bolton-Fasman, Jerusalem Report, 48-49.
12/97, American Anthropologist, by Edith Turner.
5/98, Women’s Review of Books, by Linda Niemann
11/98, Contemporary Sociology, by Marjorie DeVault