Women of the Forest

Women of the Forest

Women of the Forest

Women of the Forest

Synopsis

When it originally appeared, this groundbreaking ethnography was one of the first works to focus on gender in anthropology. The thirtieth anniversary edition of Women of the Forest reconfirms the book's importance for contemporary studies on gender and life in the Amazon. The book covers Yolanda and Robert Murphy's year of fieldwork among the Mundurucú people of Brazil in 1952. The Murphy's ethnographic analysis takes into account the historical, ecological, and cultural setting of the Mundurucú, including the mythology surrounding women, women's work and household life, marriage and child rearing, the effects of social change on the female role, sexual antagonism, and the means by which women compensate for their low social position.

The new foreword -- written collectively by renowned anthropologists who were all students of the Murphys -- is both a tribute to the Murphys and a critical reflection on the continued relevance of their work today.

Excerpt

Why mess with a classic? One colleague contacted for this project demurred for just that reason. Yet the appearance of a new printing of Women of the Forest, three decades after it first appeared, is an occasion worth marking, even celebrating. So, for better or worse, six students of Yolanda and Robert Murphy, all of whom have studied Amazonian peoples, take this moment to look back on (and up to) a work that shaped our own perspectives—and the discipline of anthropology. The Murphys are a tough act to precede, and reasonable advice to the reader might be to skip us and go right to them. But a masterpiece deserves to be acknowledged, and so we do.

Research on the Mundurucú was a joint project for the Murphys from the very start. Yolanda and Bob were a team in the field, although for years it was Bob who did the publishing. The reader . . .

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