Penn State

Jennifer L. Mittelstadt - associate professor of history and women's studies, Penn State University Park

Book Title: All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community

Author: Carol Stack

Book Description:

I read this classic of American ethnography when I assigned it in my first course at Penn State, A History of Poverty in America. Written in 1974 by feminist anthropologist, Carol Stack, it challenged the entire existing scholarship on poverty, not only in anthropology, but sociology, economics and other social sciences. Previous scholars had studied poverty as a product of the personal failings of individuals or the dysfunctional cultures of particular groups. Stack turned such notions on their heads, and through several years of participant observation, recorded the remarkable, resilient survival strategies of African American women living in poverty in the U.S. I chose this book because my students love it, and so do I. It is incisive, bold, revealing, convincing, and refreshing, even 35 years later. It is a model of engaged, committed scholarship.

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