Nancy Scheper-Hughes, one of the nation's foremost anthropologists, will be the featured writer for the Berkeley Writers at Work series Monday, Feb. 2, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Toll Room of Alumni House. She will read from her works, be interviewed about her writing process and answer questions from the audience.
Scheper-Hughes received both her BA and PhD from Berkeley and has written extensively and lectured throughout the world on topics from "AIDS and Human Rights in Cuba" and "Popular Justice and Human Rights in a South African Squatter Camp" to "Maternal Thinking and the Policies of War."
She has been invited to speak or teach at universities in Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Israel, Hong Kong and France.
Scheper-Hughes writes on a variety of subjects: gender and reproduction; violence and everyday life; the practice of anthropology; and deviance, madness and social control.
Her book "Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland" (1979) won the Margaret Mead Award from the Society for Applied Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association.
Reactions in the village of "Ballybran" to the book were more mixed. One Irish countryman said, "Yerra, she should be shot!"
In addition to a heavy schedule of scholarly writing, she has always maintained a parallel commitment to writing for the public in such venues as Natural History Magazine, a fairly regular stream of articles for the British magazine The New Internationalist and editorials in the L.A. Times and the New York Times on subjects ranging from the cultural politics of international adoption to the assassination of Brazil's street kids and the increasing commercialization of human organs and living donors in transplant surgery.
In "Death without Weeping: the Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil," (1992), Scheper-Hughes examines how extreme poverty and hunger in northeast Brazil have created a culture in which mothers not only do not mourn the death of sickly babies, but in fact have developed behaviors that hasten the death of those children. Commonweal magazine called this a "searing treatment of how social and economic injustice has created forces that deprive mothers of what would seem to be the most basic of human rights, the right to grieve for their dead babies." Library Journal said, "What makes the book as exciting to read as a good novel is (Scheper-Hughes') long-term interaction with a group of people that she clearly loves and the complete lack of the sense of the 'other' that is so often found in anthropological writing."
"Death without Weeping" won several book awards and prizes (including one in Italy and one in the United Kingdom) and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Book of Non-Fiction (1993).
The Berkeley Writers at Work series provides a forum for campus writers to discuss all aspects of their writing, from gathering material and crafting the framework to creating a mood, editing and revising.
The series is sponsored by College Writing Programs, with support from the dean of undergraduate education. It is free and open to the public; no reservations are needed.
For information, contact the College Writing Programs, 642-5570, or email Steve Tollefson, firstname.lastname@example.org.