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The Root of Roots

Or, How Afro-American Anthropology Got Its Start

by Richard Price and Sally Price

The field diaries kept by Melville and Frances Herskovits on their historic 1920s expeditions into the South American rainforest reveal their hopes for the research, their relations with natives, servants, and colonial officials, and ultimately their fear for their lives. This prickly pamphlet, illustrated with contemporary photos of the couple in the field, sheds light on the ways in which early twentieth-century ideas about race, gender, science, authenticity, and the nature of culture contributed to the initial conceptualization of the field we now call Afro-American Studies.

From the University of Chicago Press catalogue:
"Anthropological iconoclasts Richard and Sally Price have spent the last two decades not only creating an unparalled oeuvre of scholarship in several areas of anthropology but also unabashedly calling foul on any untenable or patronizing concepts of 'us' and 'them,' 'primitive' and 'modern,' that cross their path. For this pamphlet, they crack the yellowing diaries kept by Melville and Frances Herskovits on their famous 1920s expedition deep into the South American jungle, exposing–with their trademark combination of deadpan wit and theoretical rigor–the origins of the field that has come to be known as African diaspora studies."