Body and Emotion: The Aesthetics of Illness and Healing in the Nepal Himalayas / Edition 1

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Overview

Shelter Blues
Sanity and Selfhood Among the Homeless
Robert R. Desjarlais

Winner of the 1999 Victor Turner Prize of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology

"Beautifully crafted, powerfully illustrated with conversation, theoretically important, and almost unique as an ethnography."--Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University

Desjarlais shows us not anonymous faces of the homeless but real people.

While it is estimated that 25 percent or more of America's homeless are mentally ill, their lives are largely unknown to us. What must life be like for those who, in addition to living on the street, hear voices, suffer paranoid delusions, or have trouble thinking clearly or talking to others.

Shelter Blues is an innovative portrait of people residing in Boston's Station Street Shelter. It examines the everyday lives of more than 40 homeless men and women, both white and African-American, ranging in age from early 20s to mid-60s. Based on a sixteen-month study, it draws readers into the personal worlds of these individuals and, by addressing the intimacies of homelessness, illness, and abjection, picks up where most scholarship and journalism stops.

Robert Desjarlais works against the grain of media representations of homelessness by showing us not anonymous stereotypes but individuals. He draws on conversations as well as observations, talking with and listening to shelter residents to understand how they relate to their environment, to one another, and to those entrusted with their care. His book considers their lives in terms of a complex range of forces and helps us comprehend the linkages between culture, illness, personhood, and political agency on the margins of contemporary American society.

Shelter Blues is unlike anything else ever written about homelessness. It challenges social scientists and mental health professionals to rethink their approaches to human subjectivity and helps us all to better understand one of the most pressing problems of our time.

Robert Desjarlais teaches anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College and is the author of Body and Emotion: The Aesthetics of Illness and Healing in the Nepal Himalayas, also published by Penn.

Contemporary Ethnography
1997 | 320 pages | 6 x 9 | 7 illus
ISBN 978-0-8122-1622-6 | Paper | $27.50s | £18.00
World Rights | Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology

Short copy:

"Beautifully crafted, powerfully illustrated with conversation, theoretically important, and almost unique as an ethnography."--Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This remarkable book is an extraordinarily sensitive study of the cultural sensibility of illness and healing among Yolmo Sherpas in Nepal. It is a beautifully crafted volume, one of the finest cultural accounts of the interconnection between social categories and bodily experience that I have read."—Arthur Kleinman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812214345
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/1992
  • Series: Contemporary Ethnography
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,450,341
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Desjarlais teaches anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College and is the author of Shelter Blues: Sanity and Selfhood Among the Homeless, also published by Penn.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on Transcription
Pt. 1 Loss
1 Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads 3
2 Body, Speech, Mind 36
3 An Aesthetics of Experience 63
4 Pain Clings to the Body 90
5 Soul Loss 135
Pt. 2 Healing
6 The Art of Knowing 159
7 Metamorphoses 185
8 A Calling of Souls 198
9 Departures 223
10 Afterwords 244
Notes 255
Glossary of Terms 277
References 281
Index 297
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