A World Full of Women / Edition 5

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A World Full of Women, 5/e

By: Martha Ward & Monica Edelstein

(Both of the University of New Orleans)

Basic Approach:

This revision of A World Full of Women will appeal to instructors and students in anthropology, or any discipline looking for an engaging, cross-cultural approach to the study of women. “Reading this book is like sitting down for an intellectually stimulating, yet thoroughly comfortable, chat with the authors,” according to one reviewer.

Author Martha Ward is an anthropologist who has taught undergraduates for more than 30 years, and designed the first official women's studies course in Louisiana. This book has been fueled by the explosion of research on women since the 1970s. Co-author Monica Edelstein adds a wealth of ethnographic experience, research, and activism with women of North Africa, the Middle East, and the United States, particularly immigrants, refugees, and healers.

Another reviewer describes this text as “one of the few books that analyzes cultures through a gender lens…the book tackles and successfully dismisses many cultural-sexist illusions . . .

Highlights of the New Edition:

  • New! Chapter 5, “Everyday Power: Women’s Agency, Authority, and Influence,” explores the diversity of women’s agency from Indonesia to West Africa to the United States-Mexico border. Students learn how women’s power is generated within matriarchal and patriarchal societies beyond domestic and political spheres.
  • Transnational experiences of migrant, immigrant, and refugee women from Japan, Palestine, Mexico, and India paint an intricate picture of power in Chapter 5.
  • Everyday Power” creates a tighter focus on women in contemporary human populations, replacing the chapter on primates. Creates a natural segue between chapters on marriage patterns and gender segregation, beginning with a discussion of single mothers and ending with Palestinian refugees.
  • Updated statistics on intimate partner violence and maternal mortality (Chapters 9 and 10) develop student critical thinking, empathy, and activism.
  • Updated annotations on suggested books to read, located in every chapter, emphasize availability, readability, and relevance.
  • Updated Glossary and Bibliography help maintain the currency of the text and give readers access to the latest research on anthropology of gender.
  • The authors present their own Hurricane Katrina experiences and add valuable insights into women’s roles in surviving disasters (Introduction).
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Editorial Reviews

A textbook for a elementary anthropology course introducing students to the role women play in many kinds of societies. Work and gender, love and culture, biocultural markers in women's lives, primates, and patterns of partnering are among the topics. Earlier editions appeared in 1996 and 1999. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205584550
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 3/12/2008
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 287
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents


Old Words and New Realities.

Where We’re Coming From.

Where to Begin and What Follows.

Speaking of Women.

Tender Trap or SuperWoman?

Code Switching.

Talking Troubles and Carrying Conversations.

Some Books That Changed Our Lives.

1. "What's for Dinner, Honey?":Work and Gender.

Work: The First Fact of Life.

"What's for Dinner?": Gender and Practical Economics.

Planting and Harvesting: The Next Revolution.

Off to Work We Go.

Value, Valued, and Valuable.

Interpreting Food, Work, and the Facts of Life.

A Few of the Many Books You May Want to Read.

2. Love and the Work of Culture.

More than Personal Lives.

The Personal Is Professional.

Sex and Temperament.

Situations on the Sepik.

Daughters of Sex and Temperament.

Beyond the Sepik.

Intimacy and the World Stage.

Conclusion: Their Last Great Work.

So Many Books: Where Can I Start?

3. Blood and Milk: Biocultural Markers in the Lives of Women.

Where Biology and Culture Meet in the Bodies of Women.

Desire and Control.

Comparative Childbirth.

Motherhood and Fetal Subjects.

Social Women in Biological Bodies: Some Conclusions.

Some Very Important Books to Read.

4. Patterns of Partnering from Romance to Resistance.

Varieties of Arrangements.

Love Marriages and Lavish Weddings.

Reading from Romance to Resistance.

5. Everyday Power: Women’s Agency, Authority, and Influence.

Rethinking Women’s Power

Migrants, Immigrants, and Refugees: Crossing the Boundaries of Domestic Power

Conclusions from One End of the Power Spectrum to the Other

Powerful Books to Read

6. A Two-Bodied World: Cultural Systems for Separating Females and Males.

Amazon: Women of the Forest and the Flutes.

Melanesia: Birth and Semen.

Islamic Middle East: Veiled Separations.

Conclusions: What Do Systems of Separation Mean?

Check Out These Books.

7. A Third Sex?: Gender as Alternative or Continuum.

Making Out and Making Up Sexes and Genders.

Crossing Over and Cross-Dressing.

Intersexed Children: A Case for Consideration.

When Boys Will Be Girls.

Two-Spirits in Native North America.

A Fourth Sex? Cross-Gendered Females.

Conclusions Beyond the Categories of Sex, Gender, and Desire.

Important Books Beyond the Natural Attitude.

8. Life's Lesions: Suffering and Healing.

Women's Wounds.

Paths to Authority.

Gendering Religions.

Healers and Healing.

Visiting Spirits.

Wombs and Wounds.

Liquid Life.

To Conclude.

A Field Full of Books to Read.

9. Who Owns Her Body? Challenges to Cultural Relativism.

Human Rights and Cultural Relativism.

The "Nature" of Violence.

A Worldwide Case: Wife Beating and Wife Battering.

Another Worldwide Case: International Sexual Services.

Case Study Number 1: Rape on a University Campus.

Case Study Number 2: Disappeared and Endangered Daughters.

Case Study Number 3: Genital Cutting.

Conclusions: Women's Rights and Critical Cultural Relativism.

Books to Empower Us.

10. Invisible Workers: Women as the Earth's Last Colony.

Characteristics of Women's Lives in the Last Colony.

International Strategies for Solving the Problem(s) of Women.

A Marxist-Feminist Thinks About Women and Work.

Women's Powers as the Roots of Grass.

Conclusions in the Post-Modern Manner.

Reading, Writing, and Resistance.


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