Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Alma Gottlieb  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born:

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Alma Gottlieb Professor of Anthropology, African Studies, LAS Global Studies, European Union Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies, at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Alma Gottlieb is a cultural anthropologist. She earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in anthropology and French (1975), and her MA (1978) and PhD (1983) in cultural anthropology from the University of Virginia. Along with her authored works, she is also the editor of [http://www.amazon.com/Restless-Anthropologist-New-Fieldsites-Visions/dp/0226304906/ref=la_B000APN5SY_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423849044&sr=1-5 ''The Restless Anthropologist: New Fieldsites, New Visions''] (2012) and co-editor of [http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Magic-Anthropology-Thomas-Buckley/dp/0520063503/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423848398&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+magic%2C+alma ''Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation''] (with Thomas Buckley, 1988 - winner of the Most Enduring Edited Collection Award/Council for the Anthropology of Reproduction in 2002), [http://www.amazon.com/World-Babies-Imagined-Childcare-Societies/dp/0521664756/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 ''A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies''] (with Judy S. DeLoache, 2000). Since 1983, Gottlieb has taught anthropology, women's studies, and African studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; she has also been a visiting professor and researcher at Princeton University, Brown University, the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (Lisbon), the National University of Côte d'Ivoire (Abidjan), Lewis and Clark College (Portland), and elsewhere. Her major field research has been among the Beng people of Côte d'Ivoire and, more recently, among Cape Verdeans with Jewish heritage (on and off the islands). A past president of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, her research has been funded by the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and other agencies.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa
ISBN: 0226305066

University of Chicago Press. 1994

This suspenseful and moving memoir of Africa recounts the experiences of Alma Gottlieb, an anthropologist, and Philip Graham, a fiction writer, as they lived in two remote villages in the rain forest of Cote d'Ivoire. With an unusual coupling of first-person narratives, their alternate voices tell a story imbued with sweeping narrative power, humility, and gentle humor. Parallel Worlds is a unique look at Africa, anthropological fieldwork, and the artistic process.

"A remarkable look at a remote society [and] an engaging memoir that testifies to a loving partnership . . . compelling."—James Idema, Chicago Tribune

Under the Kapok Tree: Identity and Difference in Beng Thought
ISBN: 0226305074

University of Chicago Press. 1996

In this companion volume to Parallel Worlds, Alma Gottlieb
explores ideology and social practices among the Beng people of Côte
d'Ivoire. Employing symbolic and postmodern perspectives, she highlights
the dynamically paired notions of identity and difference, symbolized by
the kapok tree planted at the center of every Beng village.

"This book merits a number of readings. . . . An experiment in
ethnography that future projects might well emulate." —Clarke K. Speed,
American Anthropologist

"[An] evocative, rich ethnography. . . . Gottlieb does anthropology a
real service." —Misty L. Bastian, American Ethnologist

"Richly detailed. . . . This book offers a nuanced descriptive analysis
which commands authority." —Elizabeth Tonkin, Man

"Exemplary. . . . Gottlieb's observations on identity and difference are
not confined to rituals or other special occasions

rather she shows
that these principles emerge with equal force during daily social life."
—Monni Adams, Journal of African Religion

"[An] excellent study." —John McCall, Journal of Folklore
Research

The Afterlife Is Where We Come From: The Culture of Infancy in West Africa
ISBN: 0226305023

University of Chicago Press. 2004

When a new baby arrives among the Beng people of West Africa, they see it not as being born, but as being reincarnated after a rich life in a previous world. Far from being a tabula rasa, a Beng infant is thought to begin its life filled with spiritual knowledge. How do these beliefs affect the way the Beng rear their children?

In this unique and engaging ethnography of babies, Alma Gottlieb explores how religious ideology affects every aspect of Beng childrearing practices—from bathing infants to protecting them from disease to teaching them how to crawl and walk—and how widespread poverty limits these practices. A mother of two, Gottlieb includes moving discussions of how her experiences among the Beng changed the way she saw her own parenting. Throughout the book she also draws telling comparisons between Beng and Euro-American parenting, bringing home just how deeply culture matters to the way we all rear our children.

All parents and anyone interested in the place of culture in the lives of infants, and vice versa, will enjoy The Afterlife Is Where We Come From.

"This wonderfully reflective text should provide the impetus for formulating research possibilities about infancy and toddlerhood for this century." — Caren J. Frost, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“Alma Gottlieb’s careful and thought-provoking account of infancy sheds spectacular light upon a much neglected topic. . . . [It] makes a strong case for the central place of babies in anthropological accounts of religion.

Gottlieb’s remarkably rich account, delivered after a long and reflective period of gestation, deserves a wide audience across a range of disciplines.”—Anthony Simpson, Critique of Anthropology

Braided Worlds
ISBN: 0226305287

University of Chicago Press. 2012

In a compelling mix of literary narrative and ethnography, anthropologist Alma Gottlieb and writer Philip Graham continue the long journey of cultural engagement with the Beng people of Côte d’Ivoire that they first recounted in their award-winning memoir Parallel Worlds. Their commitment over the span of several decades has lent them a rare insight. Braiding their own stories with those of the villagers of Asagbé and Kosangbé, Gottlieb and Graham take turns recounting a host of unexpected dramas with these West African villages, prompting serious questions about the fraught nature of cultural contact.

Through events such as a religious leader’s declaration that the authors’ six-year-old son, Nathaniel, is the reincarnation of a revered ancestor, or Graham’s late father being accepted into the Beng afterlife, or the increasing, sometimes dangerous madness of a villager, the authors are forced to reconcile their anthropological and literary gaze with the deepest parts of their personal lives. Along with these intimate dramas, they follow the Beng from times of peace through the times of tragedy that led to Côte d’Ivoire’s recent civil conflicts. From these and many other interweaving narratives—and with the combined strengths of an anthropologist and a literary writer—Braided Worlds examines the impact of postcolonialism, race, and global inequity at the same time that it chronicles a living, breathing village community where two very different worlds meet.


Awards

-- Victor Turner Award/Society for Humanistic Anthropology for ''Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa'' in 1996