Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer


When French sociologist Lo¿c Wacquant signed up at a boxing gym in a black neighborhood of Chicago's South Side, he had never contemplated getting close to a ring, let alone climbing into it. Yet for three years he immersed himself among local fighters, amateur and professional. He learned the Sweet science of bruising, participating in all phases of the pugilist's strenuous preparation, from shadow-boxing drills to sparring to fighting in the Golden Gloves tournament. In this experimental ethnography of incandescent intensity, the scholar-turned-boxer supplies a model for a "carnal sociology" capable of capturing "the taste and ache of action." Body & Soul marries the analytic rigor of the sociologist with the stylistic grace of the novelist to offer a compelling portrait of a bodily craft and of life and labor in the black American ghetto, but also a fascinating tale of personal transformation and social transcendence. "Body & Soul is a gem, destined for a life of classics like Street Corner Society (though much fleshier and juicier and denser), studied over and over again as a pattern to follow, though defying the ability, imagination, and, indeed, humanity of the would-be followers. An act impossible to match. A poem in prose, a work of love and wisdom rolled into one: this is how ethnography should be written, were the ethnographers capable of writing like that." --Zygmunt Bauman, author of Liquid Modernity

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