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KPU Faculty Picks for Diving into the Disciplines

Death: A Graveside Companion

The book provides a good overview of a wide variety of perspectives and approaches to the study of death from historical, scientific, cultural, artistic and symbolic perspectives. The book is centered around a wide variety of interesting themes and is very well-illustrated to keep the reader informed and entertained. In fact, the visuals are an important part of the learning process of the reader.

~ Ken Stark, Anthropology

Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject

A wonderful example of how contemporary ethnography can recast some of the most 'treasured' aspects of our own society, from liberalism and feminism to agency and selfhood.  Mahmood's work with Egyptian women in the piety movement in Cairo helps focus on how deeply held values, embodied virtues and ethics are central to the shaping of public ideas about religion, society and politics in the modern Muslim world. This book makes us question so-called universals and draw connections between political ideals and the historical trajectories they emerge from.

~ Elliot Montpellier, Anthropology

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American city

It's on Times' "ten best nonfiction books of the decade", a Pulitzer prize winner, and one of sociology's best. It's about social justice issues (homelessness, poverty, and racial and gender inequality) presented not as activism but through the most balanced and sober analysis possible. It's methodologically superb: a firsthand ethnography backed by an enormous amount of data and quantitative studies (all in footnotes as not to deter the casual reader). The best part: it reads like a novel, and it follows stories as gripping as any fictional drama...However, the people whose stories you follow are real, as is their heartbreak. Don't let the fact that it's about American society deter you; the systemic issues of socioeconomic inequality and racism discussed by the author are general enough for Canadians to learn from.

~ Mariana Gatzeva, Sociology

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

This book is great because it gives hope for a better world. It shows how oppression works and how we can overcome it through engaging in interactions that lead to a critical reading of the reality. Paulo Freire's approach is transdisciplinary and his insights are particularly useful for Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Communication, and Educational Studies.

~ Fabricio Telo, Sociology

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

It's a fascinating look into how people behave around others. The book "presents an analysis of the structures of social encounters from the perspective of the dramatic performance... [It] shows us exactly how people use such "fixed prose" as houses, clothes, and job situations; how they combine in teams resembling secret societies; and how they adopt discrepant roles and communicate out of character. Professor Goffman takes us backstage too, into the regions where people both prepare their images and relax from them; and he demonstrates in painful detail what can happen when a performance falls flat."

~ Mariana Gatzeva, Sociology

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This book is an absolute page-turner. It will change everything you think about how society works: what it means to be human is at the heart of this book. This book changed my life. It also enriched my insights I have as a sociologist. It is an incredible book based on a true story. The truth is that nearly everyone on the planet owes some aspect of their health to Henrietta Lacks, a poor black American woman who died in the deep Jim Crow south.

~ Rebecca Yoshizawa, Sociology

Signal and Noise

A great work of media anthropology focussed on the everyday experiences of Nigerians with media technologies and infrastructures. This is a wonderfully rich and deep study of media history that links the impacts of colonialism to Islamic traditions of mediation and postcolonial politics. It ethnographically charts culturally mediated encounters with film, radio and the infrastructure that the state has used in modernising and nationalist projects.

~ Elliot Montpellier, Anthropology


Burial Mounds in Europe and Japan

The book provides a good overview of the different kinds of burial mounds that exist in Europe and Japan, and their architectural features and range of artifact and burial remains that have been uncovered. The work also provides a nice example of the different kinds of methodological and theoretical approaches used by various scholars on the subject. Of particular importance, is the fact that many of the articles are written by Japanese archaeologists from their own perspectives, highlighting the different approaches used by non-Western archaeologists in the study of burial mounds from a global perspective.

~ Ken Stark, Anthopology