richard price & sally price

Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003

Mel and Fann, Suriname 1929

Melville Herskovits with Saramaka artifacts, 1928

The Root of Roots:
Or, How Afro-American Anthropology Got Its Start

by Richard Price and Sally Price

Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press /​ University of Chicago Press, 2003.
ISBN: 0-9728196-2-2 Paper $10.00 /​ £7.00

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."

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Selected Books:

French-language reimagining of Enigma Variations, published with the Espresso Book Machine
Winner of the 2012 Best Book Award of the American Political Science Association in the field of Human Rights and the 2012 Senior Book Prize of the American Ethnological Society. "An extraordinary work, actively written and exceptionally thought-provoking, Rainforest Warriors will be a classic." Donald Brenneis, UC Santa Cruz
"A delicious combination of art, anthropology, and politics"--Lucy R. Lippard. "A fascinating, entertaining, and troubling book"--Journal of Anthropological Research. "A complex story of passion, intrigue, and power"--Journal of Surrealism and the Americas. "A crackling good story"--Museum.
Winner of the 2008 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, the 2009 Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Memorial Award for Caribbean Scholarship, and the 2009 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. . . . "An astonishing performance ... as lucid and cordial as the best contemporary fiction.”--George Lamming
A lavishly-illustrated art book
A French-language original, printed in full color.
"A tour-de-force ... a true marriage of anthropology and art history." --Fred Myers, New York University
"A witty, but scholarly, indictment of the whole primitive art business." --Newsweek
"A superb calaloo of a book ... that explores the underlying insanity of the colonial experience." --George Lamming
"A true gem... The promise of literary ethnography is fulfilled: to educate and, just as a lark, to entertain." --African Arts
"Sensitive and honest, First-Time is required reading for all who seek to learn something new through first-hand, long-term research with non-western intellectuals" --Ethnohistory
"A splendid effort to recover the past." --New York Review of Books
"A splendid anthology, skillfully edited and introduced." --Eugene D. Genovese
"An innovative analysis of the creativity of African-Americans under the extreme constraints of slavery." --Rebecca Scott
"Conceived with sophistication but presented with simplicity and clarity" --Choice
"A brilliantly crafted experiment in postmodern narration --J. Jorge Klor de Alva, president, University of Phoenix
As seas dry up, books speak out loud, and elephants assume human form, we are present at a whole sequence of world-shaping happenings such as the invention of sex, the discovery of drums,and the arrival of death among humans.
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