Reed-Danahay, Deborah 1954-
Reed-Danahay, Deborah 1954-
Born 1954. Education: Brandeis University, Ph.D., 1986.
Cultural anthropologist and writer. State University of New York at Buffalo, professor, 2008—. Held previous positions at the University of Texas at Arlington and Buffalo State College.
Education and Identity in Rural France: The Politics of Schooling, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) Auto/ethnography: Rewriting the Self and the Social, Berg (New York, NY), 1997.
Locating Bourdieu, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2005.
Contributor of book chapters, articles, and encyclopedia entries.
Deborah Reed-Danahay is a cultural anthropologist who has taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo since 2008. Her primary research interests include sociocultural theory, anthropology and education, political anthropology, and ethnography and personal narrative (autoethnography). In addition to contributing to books, encyclopedias, and academic journals, she is the author of two books: Education and Identity in Rural France: The Politics of Schooling, published in 1996, and Locating Bourdieu, published in 2005. She is also the editor of the book Auto/ethnography: Rewriting the Self and the Social.
Education and Identity in Rural France is based on fieldwork Reed-Danahay conducted over a few years in the 1980s on a primary school in a small village in the Auvergne region of central France. This study attempts to demonstrate how farm families and their children challenge and incorporate cultural and class values of the French school system. Her "aim is to ‘decenter’ the school, typically the key focus of studies in the anthropology of education. Her emphasis on families presents a view of schooling from outside the institution as well as an actor-oriented approach to social relations," as Vera Mark put it in a review for the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Mark later added, "An important strength of the book is its engagement with a variety of disciplines and themes, which include the anthropology of education, social stratification in education, French and European ethnography, social history, social identity and studies of childhood. Reed-Danahay thus brings together a wide range of sources, including French ones less well known to an English-language public." H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online reviewer Hervi Varenne noted that "this book is most interesting at several levels. First, it is a contribution to the ethnography of France and particularly to the ethnography of the French educational system, about which we still know very little from this point of view. Second, and more important, it is a contribution to the general cultural anthropology of what used to be called ‘modern’ or ‘complex’ societies and, eventually, to general anthropological theory…. There is nothing ground-breaking here, and some of the limitations of the analysis may derive from the conservative nature of her techniques. Still, this is mainstream cultural anthropology at its best."
Auto/ethnography is a collection of essays, including one by Reed-Danahay, that explore the concept of autoethnography, which is the study of the awareness of the self within a culture. It is related to ethnography, a research method that uses participant observation and interviews in order to gain a deeper understanding of a group's culture. "The term itself is not stable. As exemplified in this collection of essays, it covers a variety of distinct, though related, issues…. The essays demonstrate these issues in various ways and with various degrees of success," related Paul Atkinson in a review of the book for the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. "The essays collected here have considerable intrinsic interest. Reed-Danahay's editorial essay makes rather more of them and constructs a stronger argument than do any of the individual authors," Atkinson further asserted.
Locating Bourdieu is an account of the work of Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist and writer known for his outspoken political views and public engagement. Bourdieu is shown in the book "as a marginal man, born in a village in southwestern France but catapulted via a thoroughly elitist education system to Paris and the prestigious Chair of Sociology at the College de France," as Peter Collins put it in his review of the book for the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Collins felt that "her serious engagement with Bourdieu's work, the quality of her prose, the careful way in which she explores the many subtle connections between the work and the life, and the authoritative way in which she deftly handles the enormous breadth of Bourdieu's writings all contribute to the excellence of this book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Anthropologist, June 1, 1997, Donna E. Muncey, review of Education and Identity in Rural France: The Politics of Schooling, p. 432.
American Journal of Sociology, September 1, 1998, George E. Marcus, review of Auto/ethnography: Rewriting the Self and the Social, p. 582.
Anthropological Quarterly, July 1, 1998, Alexandra Jaffe, review of Education and Identity in Rural France, p. 158.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October 1, 1996, review of Education and Identity in Rural France, p. 324.
Contemporary Sociology, July 1, 2003, Laird Boswell, review of Education and Identity in Rural France, p. 513.
Journal of Modern History, September 1, 1999, Linda L. Clark, review of Education and Identity in Rural France, p. 720.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March 1, 1997, Vera Mark, review of Education and Identity in Rural France, p. 201; March 1, 1999, Paul Atkinson, review of Auto/ethnography, p. 152; March 1, 2006, Peter Collins, review of Locating Bourdieu, p. 266.
Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 1998, review of Auto/ethnography, p. 64; May 1, 2005, review of Locating Bourdieu, p. 142.
Social Anthropology, February 1, 1999, Laura Rival, review of Education and Identity in Rural France, p. 97.
Times Educational Supplement, May 10, 1996, review of Education and Identity in Rural France, p. 7.
Buffalo State College Web site,http://www.buffalostate.edu/ (August 16, 2008), author profile.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (July 1, 1996), Hervi Varenne, review of Education and Identity in Rural France; July 1, 2005, Allen F. Roberts, review of Locating Bourdieu.