Alex's Reviews > The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart

The Vulnerable Observer by Ruth Behar
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's review
Feb 11, 2008

did not like it
Read in January, 2006

The man who recommended this book to me is one of the smartest men I've ever met. He did so, I believe, in knowing that it would teach me how not to write. I wouldn't be entirely against reflexive ethnography if I didn't feel it becomes as biased as it often does.

Behar needs to learn the definition of "ethnography" and turn the focus off of herself and onto her subjects. Instead of making a common thread throughout the book of how she struggled to get her tenure as a minority, why not talk about something I'd like to learn more about, such as the Mexican death rituals she briefly mentions? And for the record, Behar - it is overhwhelmingly ethnocentric and in poor taste to express how disgusted you were by the rituals that are so "vastly different" from the ones you grew up with, without putting the rituals in context. What exactly are you doing as an anthropologist, anyways?

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