“Richard and Sally Price’s elegiac account of their time living among the Saamakas of Suriname in the 1960s is wholly engrossing, and of the very highest narrative quality. I can see, smell, and feel everything they describe. The Prices have never been fresher or more readable as literature.”
--George E. Marcus
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The Republic of Suriname, in northeastern South America, contains the highest proportion of rainforest within its national territory, and the most forest per person, of any country in the world. During the 1990s, its government began awarding extensive logging and mining concessions to multinational companies. Saramaka Maroons, the descendants of self-liberated African slaves who had lived in that rainforest for more than 300 years, resisted, bringing their complaints to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
In 2007, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights delivered a landmark judgment in their favor. This book tells the gripping story of how Saramakas harnessed international human rights law to win control of their own piece of the Amazonian forest and guarantee their cultural survival.
“Paris Primitive is a delicious combination of art, anthropology, and politics, as well as an intricate dissection of French alliances and institutions. Along the way, in this well-written and fast-paced narrative, Sally Price also illuminates the ethics of acquisition and display and the battle between aesthetics and ethnography. What a tale! Everyone involved in cultural representation should read this book.”
--Lucy R. Lippard, author of Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America
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.
Thirty-five years into his research with Saramakas, Richard Price meets Tooy, a priest-philosopher-healer who soon takes him through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. Moving between the canefields of Martinique, where slave-era spirits haunt a hardware emporium, to the criminal court of Cayenne, where a rape trial is underway, and on to the ritual sacrifice of cocks and goats, the book carries readers into that hallucinatory realm located somewhere between Castañeda's Teachings of Don Juan and Taussig's My Cocaine Museum.
“Scholarship at its very best.” --Paul Stoller, author of Money Has No Smell
Romare Bearden (1911-1988), the great American artist, spent much of the last two decades of his life on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. For Bearden, the experience was vital. "Art will go where energy is," he often said. "I find a great deal of energy in the Caribbean. ... It’s like a volcano there; there’s something underneath that still smolders." The Prices reassess Bearden's Caribbean experience, exploring its influence on his imagery of Harlem and rural North Carolina, and relocating it at the very center of his artistic legacy.
This generously-sized book presents more than 100 full-color Bearden paintings, as well as numerous photos of Bearden in the Caribbean.
The 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 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.
Lavishly illustrated, this groundbreaking study presents the arts of the Maroons — descendants of rebel slaves who wrested their freedom from Dutch plantation owners in South America in the 18th century and established independent societies in the tropical rainforest.
"A major contribution to our understanding of the cultural systems of the African Diaspora."
--Colin Palmer, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York
From art criticism and travel journalism to Fellini films and fashion ads, Sally Price explores the cultural assumptions that cling to popular perceptions of art in non-Westernized societies around the world.
"Primitive Art in Civilized Places rattled glass cases throughout the art world with its bracing attack on the myth of the connoisseur as a genius whose inborn eye instantly -- and reliably -- distinguishes masterpiece from kitsch, the authentic from the forged."
In a stunning combination of scholarship and storytelling, Richard Price draws on long-term ethnography, archival documents, old love letters, cinema and street theater, and Caribbean fiction and poetry to explore how one generation's powerful historical metaphors could so quickly become the next generation's trivial pursuit, how memories of oppression, inequality, and struggle could so easily become replaced by nostalgia, complicity, and celebration.
"A wonderfully readable fusion of anthropology and memoir about culture, colonialism, and madness in the Caribbean."
--Lucy R. Lippard
In a steamy colonial city, an eccentric Frenchman offers for sale an extraordinary collection of primitive art. The two anthropologists called in to appraise the pieces for the national museum quickly find themselves in a world where the boundaries of authenticity and deception blur in the tropical heat.
"A fabulous and unique artifact, an art-historical whodunit told with great flair, intelligence, and sensitivity."
--Wall Street Journal
A classic of historical anthropology, Richard Price's First-Time traces the shape of historical thought among peoples who had previously been denied any history at all. Its unique style of presentation preserves the integrity of both its oral and documentary sources, uniting them in a profound meditation on the roles of history and memory.
This second edition includes a new preface by the author, discussing the book's impact and recounting the continuing struggles of the Saramaka people.
Winner of the American Historical Association's
Albert J. Beveridge Award, the Gordon K. Lewis
Award for Caribbean Scholarship, and the J. I. Staley Prize in Anthropology.
"Richard Price is arguably the best anthropological historian at work today. Superlatives ought not be used lightly, but Alabi's World, considered as an experimental sequel to the audacious First-Time, forces them."
--Shepard Krech III
"The melding of history and anthropology has seldom appeared so fruitful."
Now in its 3rd edition.
The first systematic study of the communities formed by escaped slaves in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. The volume includes eyewitness accounts written by escaped slaves and their pursuers, as well as modern historical and anthropological studies of the maroon experience.
"As rich and informative a collection as one could wish, and one made useful by a fine introduction."
(by Sidney W. Mintz and Richard Price)
In this provocative study exploring the cultural ties between Africans and African Americans, the authors argue that there was no single culture that enslaved Africans transported intact to the Americas. They suggest rather that enslaved Africans from many different societies began to forge out of common understandings and shared crises a new culture with distinct institutions, religious beliefs, and kinship roles even during the nightmare of the Middle Passage.
"A classic. The most cogent and detailed attempt to think through what acculturation of Africans in the Americas was like."
--Albert J. Raboteau, author of Slave Religion
Winner of the Alice and Edith Hamilton Prize in Women's Studies
Co-Wives and Calabashes draws on a rich variety of resources -- from bawdy popular songs to dusty museum artifacts, from animated gossip sessions to comprehensive social statistics -- to reveal the complex ways in which notions of gender, patterns of marriage, and the cultural definition of art are interrelated.
"One of the best ethnographies of women's lives in print."
--Jane F. Collier, author of From Duty to Desire
A postmodern romp through the rain forest, Equatoria is both travelogue and cultural critique. Charged with acquiring objects for a new museum, the Prices kept a log of their day-to-day adventures and misadventures, constantly confronting their ambivalence about the act of collecting, the very possibility of exhibiting cultures, and the future of anthropology.
"The latest in a series of volumes by the Prices that is proving to be the most interesting and most sustained body of experimental work in anthropology."
Joining Saramakas in the South American rain forest for two tale-telling wakes, we witness mischievous Anasi the Spider matching wits with lecherous devils, the scrawny little kid rescuing his nubile sisters in distress, and the bitchy white princess being tamed by the one-sided boy.
Narrative, song, dance, and social interaction merge in these two evenings of multimedia entertainment, bearing witness to an Afro-American cultural tradition that remains alive and vibrant, constantly renewed but always reflecting its links with the past.
John Gabriel Stedman's Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam AND Stedman's Surinam: Life in an Eighteenth-Century Slave Society
When John Gabriel Stedman's Narrative was first published in 1796 -- a bowdlerized edition "full of lies and nonsense" -- Stedman claimed to have burned two thousand copies. It nevertheless became an immediate popular success. The Prices' acclaimed critical edition is based on Stedman's original handwritten manuscript, which offers a portrait at considerable variance with the 1796 classic. The unexpurgated text constitutes one of the richest and most evocative accounts ever written of a flourishing slave society.
"A superbly edited critical edition of the book Stedman actually wrote."
--David Brion Davis, New York Review of Books
The experience of Suriname Maroons brought to dance on the Washington Mall for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, set in the context of earlier cultural exhibitions such as world's fairs and colonial expositions.
(edited by Sidney W. Mintz and Sally Price)
Intended to provide some of the essential facts underlying the unity and diversity of Caribbean societies and to contribute to an understanding of the region's increasing importance in the modern world. An accessible introduction to the history, culture, and politics of the Caribbean by authorities on the region -- original essays on "race," languages, music, sugar, peasantries, and the contemporary scene.
Out-of-print or hard-to-find books