AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF EVERYDAY LIFE: An Autobiography by Edward T. Hall


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Of his life, anthropologist Hall (coauthor, Hidden Differences, 1987; The Dance of Life, 1982, etc.) says here, ""In the perspective of the years I can see that mine has been an unusual life--in fact, a remarkable one, endowed with luminosity."" Hall, born in 1914, focuses in these appealing memoirs on his childhood through early midlife, tracing a personal evolution of ideas and ""self."" He recalls many details of a past that ranges from his too-few years with his parents as the eldest of a brood of siblings, to his growing up among strangers at boarding schools in New Mexico, to time spent living with American Indians, serving in the US Army, and working in academia (Univ. of Denver and Bennington, where his ""best friend"" was Erich Fromm) and the federal government. His reminiscences wander a bit, and it's sometimes unclear why he's relating a particular anecdote--but, in a way, Hall's narrative mirrors the random quality of ""everyday life"" and the unexpected ways in which an inquisitive mind stumbles on insight, learns, and grows. Of particular interest are the glimpses he provides into the formation of a cultural anthropologist, and how he developed his pathbreaking ideas on nonverbal communication. The title pays homage to Freud--and, finally, Hall concludes that the ""anthropology of everyday life"" is akin to the therapeutic process: that, upon examination, our daily lives reveal ""the vast world of unconscious culture in its relation to the unconscious self."" An engaging, even charming, intellectual biography.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Doubleday