16 February 2012

Post 480: Holding Our Worlds Together

Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of the Community by Brenda J. Child. ISBN: 9780670023240 (eGalley - published February 16, 2012).

One of the best things about reading/researching history is the discovery of stories. Child has done an excellent job of including brief stories about the people she's written about. They make her narrative more lively, and give a more accurate picture of who the Ojibwe people were and are rather than a collection of facts or traits they all happen to share with each other.

Somehow stories make people more real to us than facts and figures. While we may know on a theoretical level that war is hell, it's different to hear the body count and know what weapons were used than to hear a personal account of a solider who has lost a leg to gangrene and seen most of his platoon die. Facts and figures are good at telling us the scope and scale of history, but do not work as well to impart the meaning of that history. That's one of the things I appreciated about my Antioch education, and particularly about my academic advisor. Whenever I took a class with her, I could be sure that she would include a good mix of facts and some additional readings or assignments so we could really get the feel of period we were studying.

One of the projects she assigned was an oral history. Since I took multiple classes with her, I actually had this assignment a couple of times. Each time I learned that people are greatly affected by the laws and expectations of their times. The first interview I did was of my philosophy professor, who told me many stories of his wild and crazy behavior in the 60s(?). Meanwhile, I did another interview of a woman who told me about the trouble she and other women faced in procuring birth control and/or abortions and how they felt about it. To this day I believe in the importance of these stories to capture and impart what the cold facts can't. What most of you don't realize is that your stories are and will be just as important as the ones we've already heard, so share them.

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: eGalley provided by Netgalley. Review held until after publication date by request of publisher.

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