Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shameless Relative Promotion

When my brother was dating the brainy and beautiful woman who soon became my sister-in-law (he courted her with words like "privileging," "marginalized," and "hermenuetics"), he told us she was an ethnographer. "Huh?" I responded cogently.

Oh, if only she had already published Shane, the Lone Ethnographer! If she had, I would have known that ethnographers study groups of people who share a common culture, be they Trobriand Islanders or corporate wage slaves. But this is more than a textbook; it's a funny, informative graphic novel. (Can something be a graphic novel if it's nonfiction? Oh well; it's a graphic textbook.) This book proves that Sally is not just a rising academic star, but a talented writer and graphic artist.

Shane is a graduate student with a research project, a vivid imagination, and a penchant for Westerns. Guided by the shade of Ruth Benedict, among others, Shane learns how to develop and carry out her ethnography project with verve and humor. Seriously, you haven't lived until you've been lectured on theoretical stances by a talking armadillo or had cultural relativism summed up in the following exchange:

Conquistador: Primitives! You haven't even discovered pants!
Maya: Dude, it's 102 degrees and 97% humidity. You're the one wearing a metal suit.

I also love the animals that lurk in the corners of the frame, offering their comments on the text. Moo!

(I only have one complaint: in a book that references Westerns by the score, featuring a heroine named Shane, there's not one allusion to this movie.)

I'm glad to say that the book is an academic blockbuster and is already in its third printing, contributing literally tens of dollars to the family coffers! If you're at all curious about ethnography, or you just like learning stuff as long as it's presented well, get Shane, the Lone Ethnographer and contribute a dime to my darling niece's college fund.

1 comment:

Sally said...

WOW! As far as I know this is the first and only blog that _Shane_ has appeared on. Thanks for the good PR. Readers of Museofire know that to have earned a good review here is to have arrived, indeed. THANKS AGAIN!